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Movement of attention

Hi John,

The part that is least clear to me is what you say about attention. You say that eventually the intelligence will develop that will help discern where to place one's attention, and not much else. I think you also say that eventually attention will come to rest upon a fixed place - purportedly this is 'Me'.

Well, I find that both points cause confusion. I am 100% sure that my daily experience consists of wondering where my attention belongs (especially when Im not busy attending to day to day activities). I find myself oscillating between being sure that attention belongs on the experience it moved away from, to being sure that it belongs on the experience it moved towards. So this is an infinite loop of sorts. As for the attention being at rest part, i haven't the faintest idea what you mean.

Is it possible that you could expand further on this and clarify what you mean?

Thanks.

Bear in mind the act of looking is not magic, and it does not automatically make everything right in an instant. The act of looking merely destroys the underlying, hidden cause of the problem, which is the psychological disease that we call "the fear of life." Here's an explanation of the fear of life:

http://www.justonelook.org/texts/the-fear-of-life.html

The diseased psychological mechanisms that developed from a context of fear and distrust of life are the cause of our experience of misery, hatred of self and others, dissatisfaction with life, yearning for fulfillment, and the entire fog of sickliness that characterizes life for most of us, most of the time.

Once you have done the act of looking, the mind will gradually clear itself whether you do anything or not, but if you decline to work with your power to control your wandering attention the road will be much longer, much harder, and much more miserable. It will, in fact, feel much as you have described here.

You will never have a useful understanding of the value of training yourself to gain authority over your attention without practicing the exercise of Focused Attention that we describe here:

http://www.justonelook.org/texts/focused-attention.html

You can also make good use of your attention by reading the postings in my blog (http://www.justonelook.og/natural/), and attending the webinars we offer on the last Saturday of every month:

http://www.justonelook.org/events/online/webinar.html

There are many more resources freely available on the JustOneLook website that can be of good use for you. Spend some time exploring them.

Long story short, it's entirely up to you how long and miserable, or relatively brief and deeply rewarding, your recovery from the fear of life will be.

And please, never hesitate to ask for help as you have done here.

John

Hi John,

Thanks for writing back.

So how will I know if the movement of my attention is coming from a place of sanity versus not? Or is the quality of attention different in the sense that it is not wandering...

Do you feel that such understanding is not useful?

When you choose deliberately where you will put your attention, as is always the case in the exercise of focused attention, you are automatically attending from a place of sanity no matter what you choose to look at. It is the exercise of your authority over attention that is sane, and that which will help determine whether the object of your attention is worthwhile.

In the beginning you will find it hard even to put your attention fully on the breath, much less hold it there for any time or determine whether it is a worthwhile object. If you add any requirement to the exercise other than that it be the experience of breath passing across your nostril, it will cause nothing but confusion and hardship over and above the difficulty of holding attention anywhere on purpose.

If you were lifting weights, it would never occur to you to wonder whether you should have a deep understanding of the true nature of the variously elongated cells capable of contracting when stimulated before starting, would you? That would be entirely beside the point in the same way that worrying about the nature of what you attend to is beside the point of the exercise.

Consider this exercise to be more like lifting weights than anything special.

You may not be completely sane yet, but you are on your way, and this exercise will hasten the healing of your mind more than anything else that I know.

Have you read the material I asked you to read? If not, please do so before you try again.

John

P.S. Most important: don't worry so much. Although you can learn to do this better, you cannot do it wrong. Everything will work out.

Keep in touch.

"You cannot do it wrong. Everything will work out."

John Sherman

It is the exercise of your authority over attention that is sane, and that which will help determine whether the object of your attention is worthwhile.

Thanks John, this changed the game for me.

On the one hand this is John's report about the looking..."Bear in mind the act of looking is not magic, and it does not automatically make everything right in an instant". However, John also reports from that moment on..."the mind will gradually clear itself whether you do anything or not". Why--because after a while, is there any problem with being me? After looking,. the problem of me has no foundation. And this more than anything else--simply being me--is the lasting residual amongst the all the wonderful and horrible thoughts that may continue. So if you are me now why all this care or noticing of this so called turbulent recovery period. One thing about being me is that it gives the dignity of being you. You are not a phantom or an illusion. You are real. You are just not fearful anymore. Yes, after just one look at me, even the doubts about the clarity of your thoughts is really you AND not remotely fear based. Really the spell is broken despite continued rumination to the contrary. Whether you are familiar or not with this thought--it is ok to breathe no matter what you are thinking.

 

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