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TCMC 1 July 2010, Part III – On Attention



Automated transcription

So let's look at at What honor earth is my? And what is concentration? Because I I know everybody I was fine concentration is. Right? But do we all know the same thing by it? And do we understand why on earth is necessary to have... Or so do your concentration in order to be successful and canvas in this path of awakening clinic? How concentration contributes what is its contribution to your personal transformation to a higher state of consciousness to a higher state b? And what is mindfulness for?

I know that's gonna up before and they will continue to come up. What what does this worried that we translate his mic that's really mean and what is it referring to. So I think that'd be really good places. Sorry right now. Tonight So let's start... Well, it's let the concentration to start with. What what gets concentrated when you wisconsin concentration? Attention? Attach? Direct brain. It's the right brain? Well be what say that. Yeah. Try to tell me why. Well, the not brain to me as I think about it it is the part of our brain that is always thinking and processing and data collecting and data output and all.

Whereas the right brain operates on its scoring and they're really different in image starting near different low. So it it it's it it's it's it's global. But not global and distraction, but global its ability to absorb and be very present. Artists when they're deeply into an artistic endeavor, a large part in the right brain. I really like that. Well, I would have said that in medication that What we're looking for is getting it to that place where we're able to fully utilize both sides of our brain.

And the different aspects in line that each is associated with. That's why I woulda it check. Rather than just attributing it to the right brain because When we developed concentration, where we're gets leading us towards a very interesting phenomenon that I think it's best described as unification of mine. Coming together of the mind. So that it works And in a very different way then we that usually does. Namely it works it's in a state of internal cooperation and and c parents. And it's not dominated by any one particular mental process.

But all mental processes are directed towards the same goal or at least are contributing towards the same goal at the same time. So and this this unification of why I I think. It's telling us that we we've won all the parts of our mind working together. Just So hasn't mainly use what. But the reason it may seem that way is that a lot of times it seems like we're only using one part of our mind, which is more analytical and verbal and was busy thinking all the time. And so we may experience the longing to have the other aspects of our of our mine consciousness or fully developed.

And so we need be more aware of what's not... Was not present most of the high and our daily activities or what the world doesn't draw out of us, and we may experience the longing for that missing part. But I don't think it's because we wanna have that instead of this, it's rather we wanna have the whole thing. But back your concentration, attention, okay. We're concentrating something. And attention, I think that's a very reasonable thing. To come to mind as the first thing. So it's worth looking at attention, what do we need by attention?

It it definitely has a focus and we focus our attention. We pay attention, We direct attention, we lose the text you know, and just as as an analogy or metaphor for attention, is in a lot of ways, it's like it's it's like a beam of light. Right? So whatever your attention is on that is what you are most clearly aware of. Most fully conscious suck. Is that right? Yeah. As a matter of Fact, that's almost what we've mean by attention is we are paying attention to x means that we are most clearly aware in this moment of x.

And then if we shift the attention to why, then we become most clearly aware of why and we're no longer as clearly aware of x who were before. So this focus. It's it's this attention is... Somehow this thing that can be directed in different places or can be occupied by different things at different times. I I mean the the one metaphor is is as though it's a beam of light. That can be shown on one thing and then another that another. But another metaphor would be that attention is is our lo and things move in and out of it.

And both seem to work as both seem to be more appropriate sometimes than others. But would you not agree that the most important characteristic of attention is our conscious awareness of its content. That's what makes it attention. Right? So attention is really a word that refers to this focusing of conscious awareness. And so we say we are concentrating even in the most ordinary everyday speech, when we say to we're concentrating on something, does it not imply that we are paying attention to it and a very consistent way.

Right? So we say we're gonna develop concentration in meditation. What is it they were developing? We're developing the ability to to have some intentional control over what oc this focus of cautious awareness. Ability to keep the attention on something that we've showed for a period of time. And it's interesting. It would you agree with me up to this point? That have we described the issue is is is there any sense in which you feel like, maybe we had adequately expressed what we mean when we're...

We say we're concentrating on sun on something and and we're cultivating. Concentration terms that ability to make the intention make the focus of attention be what we've chosen it to be anti sustain there. Yes. I thought before you were including something and now, I'm not sure if you're including it or not, that kind of frances where you are... I don't i don't you how way to set it, but if think like the fact, it wouldn't remain where you're not Any one thing. But just the style happens you know sound and as sensation happens you know sensation your this staying with the that of experience.

And including that hundred? No Well, you tell me what what I hear you're referring to. I know look exactly the practice practitioner name. But This this is where extension seems to to move. So I've got my attention on one thing, and then if something else comes along, like a sound. And not just any old sound because there's always sounds. You know, just never total silence. But a sound comes along that for one reason or another draws my attention my attention leaves this object and goes to that.

And then there may be a thought and my attention leaves that the the sound especially is not ongoing sound. And goes to the thought. So this is this what I mean by the attention Blue from plain to thing to thing. So When we talk about concentration We're talking about. Well, i'll just ask you. Does it feel like when you might lose from one thing to another to another according to whatever is most attractive to it. That that deserves to be called concentration. Yes. You say yes. And I look at experiences where I have...

I don't know if I the blue but we had said I feel very concentrated. Yes. Okay. Well, I would agree with the two answers I heard. Didn't no. Then yes. They're both right. Because This is what our attention does normally all all the time without any training. Is it loose from thing anything to say? It just... That's that's what happens all day well. Right? If you're trying to do this and your attention goes over there and you followed it back and attention goes over there and all of that, you know, or if you're not trying to focus your attention if you're not trying to concentrate particular task.

Your attention just goes here and then it gets as it goes there and it moves my association or it's drawn by something that that arises with present some. That is ordinary behavior of the mine. There's was absolutely no concentration at that at all. None. Got it. Okay. But that doesn't be that then the the the logical conclusion from that isn't that Only if the concentration is fixed on only if the attention has fixed off one thing move, can we call it concentration? Okay. And this kind of leaps a help.

They're there each you've developed your mind to the point that you can't. Stay fully on one thing. If you choose to, then you can't allow your mind to move. And you will have the experience of being totally concentrated while you allow your mind to move from one thing to. And very different than the age. Thing. But it already pre something different about the mind whose attention is moving, then he normally experience and daily life. And that's so good. That must there must be the essence of concentration.

Hidden in that. And if we wanna really understand concentration, what we need by concentration, we'll have to see how it is As much present when the mine is again the safety that you described, as it is when the mine is remaining fixed on something. And when we can see clearly what that is, it should also be obvious to us. How that is different from what is ordinarily happening all day every day. Right? So good. So we we have good... You know, we we can think about this now and get a little bit closer to it maybe what the sse.

So of this concentration thing is that we're trying to find out about. Now And actually what you raised is something that has been the source of a vast amount of confusion. Which has led people to believe that they can do like you described without first developing concentration. And in my experience and then experience every pet that I ever or work with. It is absolutely impossible. You have to first have concentration before you have that experience she talked about even though a mine moves from altered object to object.

There's a feeling Of been totally focused. And the difference? The difference is... Let me see if I can capture it and and if you'll agree with me. From your experience. The know we're talking about same The difference is ordinarily the movement, the spontaneous movement of attention what it occurs on our daily life. Is that it chases that for something or it's drawn to something and it latches onto it. And it's kind of stuck on it no matter what else is coming up. Up to a certain point. And then whatever it's stuck on will either lose its appeal or something more interesting or come law.

And then it'll jump over to that. But if something else more interesting comes along, you'll hardly touch on this before it bounces over to the next day. And so attention is more just kind skit and a bell, looking and getting stuck. So it's alternating between sitting around and getting stuck. Our attention. You know, the picture that I have and My mind, is this this was thing that we call the attention that is being yank to cool one direction. Another Life what's interesting what's fascinating what seems important.

And It's totally at diversity of what concept. And then when something comes up, it is really interesting or important or or are enticing or threatening name or something like that. The mind stuck my and the attention is is stuck there yet. What's holding it, Let's go. That's a ordinary rate. And what... But instead, what the experience that you're talking about. The one that I would say is concentration is that the mind dose is something and it's fully air, one hundred percent with it. Nothing pulling it anywhere else.

Until something else comes up and and there is... It has a deliberate message here. I which Now this goes to other aspects of it, you're aware. You've never aware just one thing You're always in aware of several thing. Something will come up. And it will be something deliberate and intentional about acknowledging that that sound is the next thing that attention going to go to. And then ip methodically and deliberately goes and strikes on that thing and absorbs it fully and grasped, but before it goes to the next thing.

It's not. It's not like a loose billiard ball running around bouncing saying the same and quote, but but it has stability to it. And where wherever it arrives, it arrived fully. And while it's there, it may only be a split second, but one its area is totally there. Now when it moves, it it moves smoothly clearly to next thing. That's side. Name can. Does that sound like big experience you're talking about? Yeah. It's... Yeah is certainly this lack of stuck if thing veil being big yep. And there's it's like there's no voting of it.

You know, there's no... No voting about... It's not like, oh, i'm glad with this. So I don't want to kill that. Yeah. It's like... Oh, let's pay attention to this, now. No. No. No. No. There's yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Good. That's wonderful... That's city obligation of mine that I talked about. Instead of all different parts of your mind? If you think about it, unification of mind is where your line's not being pulled in all these different directions. Your your attention not being pulled in all these different directions by different parts of your mind that have a different agent agendas.

And different priorities. And that's what allows you to be fully with something and and also not respect for it. So comes back to the unification of my i. I think it does come back that. Now it's very interesting that in the buddhist teachings on meditation and on the subject. That they clearly define the first thing that he want are develop in your meditation practice is Tucker and Richard. Which means directed and sustained attention. And I'll apologize to you in advance because you're gonna read the most stupid interpretations are it all over the place.

Now that it means investigation thinking and con kinds of things like that. It means it's it's it's it's about exactly what we're talking about. And and it is that We have the ability to direct our attention and we do it all the time. It's in innate ability. We can equipped with the capacity to intentionally direct our attention. What? Most of the time, most every day, we do not intentionally direct our attention. Right? Our attention is yank this way and that, it goes here chases after that What's after that keep girl or that cute eye goes to this where some thought.

You know, it's just... There is no intention behind the directing of attention. But you can direct attention. Anytime you have to And when you started out in great school, you started to learn that if you didn't develop a certain capacity direct to your attention. You never did out of second grade because the teacher and the system expected you to be able to pay you attention long enough to get certain? Test. So we have the ability. We had there is a mental function that we have that is capable of intentionally director detection, but it is under underdeveloped.

And so is directed attention. It's cultivating the ability to intentionally direct your attention. And this what you do when you meditate. Right? And that's why when you're cultivating directed detection, it doesn't matter how many times you're attention goes off the meditation object, because the important thing you're doing is intentionally directing it back. And if it never went away, you'd never have an opportunity to practice redirect it. Right? So but our times you redirect your attention, It's like a muscle.

You're making the directed attention muscle stronger. If you look at the other thing about the way your retention behaves in your daily life. It does get sucked on thanks. But in general, no matter what you pay attention to, Your attention goes it... Stays are a certain period of time, and then Something happens, and it's cut loose. And they leave going to whatever is our else who's already awareness that looks more interesting or more fun. Or else, it will just start asking about looking for anything that can find that might be more interesting and more fun.

Than what your attention was resting out before. Is that about what you find? In your day life all the time? So this when you are trying to accomplish task and you direct your attention to something? You know, then? And here I am directing my attention to this this cup of water. And it's no problem up to a certain point. And then suddenly, something shifts and not my intention, it's like Alicia has been taken off. It's free good. And I look at that. And I say, okay. So we got this other little Widget it in our mind, whose job is to...

When you directed your attention to something or when on this? Its job is to decide what where to set the attention free go look for something else for interesting. So we could call that the the attention sustaining function. So we're born with that. We works all the time. But we see that... And and we see that it it can be put under intentional control. We cannot only direct our attention to something, but we could sustain our attention on it, but up to it only response to our attention up to a certain point.

It's not too well trained. It's there we use it. We can use it, but we could train it better. It could respond just just like directed attention. Sustained detention could be more responsive to intention. And through training, it does become more responsive to intention. So When I look at the Buddhist teachings on meditation, as They say meditation begins with. It begins with directed and sustained attention. And I looked at my experience white and daily life and the experience of my months in meditation.

I said, Oh yeah. Oh course. This so part of my mind that directs the attention it can do that under intentional control and could sustain the attention. It can do that under international control. Now all I have to do is to make it stronger is just to exercise it until that constant And the result of that is that those moments of consciousness didn't make up your life. You can now influence that. So let's talk about them little bit. Well, first of all, what do you think of the idea that your in life is made up of conscious experiences.

The series of conscious experience happening over time. Is is exactly what your wife is? Good for you. By health can be? Answer yet. Starts here. And what afternoon they go. There's these gaps where we fall asleep or maybe were put out through anesthesia or something like that. By what con experience follows after another, that's what makes up on life. Now the content of any given conscious experience is what it's what you're paying attention to? Is that not true? Have you ever... Walk down the same street or walked into the same room in two very different modes.

And one time, you see oh that interesting? How isn't that beautiful always that mice. Oh isn't that lovely. Oh doesn't that feel good. Or doesn't that sound? It's exactly the same place in a different. You know oh, that's thirty. Somebody should do sync. Bad. Bad. Feels terrible. Right? What's the difference? You are you paying attention to the same things? No. So that's a pretty clear illustration. But quality, of your life of your very existence is directly related to what we pay attention to.

Not to mention all of the other things. You know, if you ride a bicycle signal down the street with some things that you pay attention to would result you. Being at a hospital whereas other things get attention to result in you getting to your destination in one piece and and feeling good happy. What you pay attention to is extremely important in terms of what you are on the quality of your life. Adam this brings us to consciousness. If you're paying attention. Your conscious is what we pay attention to it.

Right? Can you be conscious of everything once? Have you to tried that? Okay. Can I just back up just for a minute? Sure. Yeah. Oh. So you're walking down the street one day, and everything's hun dory. Then you're walking down the same street, pretty much looking at the same things and everything is pretty funky. It seems to me if I understood what you was saying, I may not. That There are so many factors influence how we're looking at the street. What we're thinking about how we're thinking about it as we are chemical soup.

And we have memories that get triggered And maybe when we were walking down the street, you know, there was a dog full tic. Mh. And we feel really, really horrible for that dog and it triggers a whole series of internal responses, conscious and unconscious. So I don't know. I'm just throwing that out because it seems like that that what we think about and how we think about it is very complex. Has a lot of subtle and isn't determined necessarily by are conscious directed attention. Well. Yes. And that's true.

It is very complex and it's influenced by many things. That's kind of getting ahead. I'm just making a really simple point. The that street is what you pay attention to. On any given occasion or is that a room. It is consists of the things that you pay attention to. And there's many things there but you don't pay attention. So so your your reality is directly dependent upon or do he pay attention to. You know, you don't experience a street. You experience those things that you attend to while you happen to be in that location.

And the street is going to be different, Totally different. There's an infinite number of streets however that it could be the same place with all the same things there is an infinite number of them depending on which combination of things happened to enter into your attention during a period of time that you there. That... That's that's why point, not sort going beyond that. Just just that much of it. K. Mh. It's the the same street, but paid attention to different things. All. That's right. Yeah.

That's right. Just as you... The street as you experience, it will then entirely what we happen to pay attention to. And keep in mind too that you can walk down the entire street with your mind, i'll caught up and thoughts with this that. And that street didn't even exist. So that's she's the trade attention to it. So... But what's important about attention is that what you're cautiously aware of is what you're paying attachment to. And so back to this question. And didn't you give a moment, Can you be aware of everything?

We even in the act of imagining that there might be a kind of being that can, we are acknowledging that we can. And that's that's really important thing. And that's that's why there's an infinite number of possible ways that we can experience the street because the only way The only thing way they could be reduced to a single way of experiencing the street is we get experiencing absolutely everything that was there to be experience. And far as I know, that's not possible for us to do. So So What's important is what what we pay attention to.

So so what are the implications of that? That One implication is that if you can cultivate directed and sustained attention so that it is under your voluntary control, you automatically instantaneously, it if it could happen instantaneously. But if it could if you could suddenly be in full control of how your retention your mind directs and sustained attention. You would have enormous control over the kind of reality that you found yourself had. And remembered, you're not just attending of things outside of yourself, you're attending to all the stuff that's in your mind as well.

So your your reality is what you are consciously aware of. You can't be consciously aware. Of everything that you could potentially be consciously aware. So therefore, it is selected. So concentration back to the question of what his concentration concentration is How we call it intentional stability. And here I'm using there's stability to mean that It's not being pulled here in their willy nilly. But there's an element of stability about where it goes, and there's also stability about how long stays.

The concentration can be seen as attached stability. Oh was it eight thirty already? Okay. Okay. So I'll wrap up. What I wanted to move one two though from here. On... There's there's two things that I want to move on to. I'll maybe leave it for the next time we talk, but just to give you an idea where I'd like to go with this. Is what is this consciousness stuff anyway? And we have to say word awareness. And do they both mean the same thing or could we use that arthur? Aren't different aspects to what we're talking about, but it would be convenient to have more than one turn to apply to.

What is consciousness. And what is its role And what is its relationship to? And the other thing, The other way I want to go with this, hey is closely related to that, and that's it has to be with what mike well that's it. Why does it need to be mindful fault? What is my full awareness? What is fully conscious to where? And how does that fit in with the whole process of meditation and how we make sense about? Because that... That's... you know, if if concentration is one, of the taxes and enlightenment, Actually the term and poly some.

Odd. And it means gathering together. And it's usually translated as concentration. But if you look at an a, it means gathering together. And of course, if we look at the word concentration in English that we translated into. Call means with saturation means moving towards the center means it's it has the same root. So it's interesting that we have a word in Poly and San, whose root is the gathering together. And which is used to refer to what we train our minds to do when we attribute predict in terms of achieving this stability.

And the word in English, concentration that we mean the same thing by also made with century or gathering towards the center. So or gathering towards one place. So both both of these words have have similar deep technological meetings. Concentration that somebody samadhi are gathering together of what? Of conscious awareness under control. Directed and sustained attachment. Oh okay. Next week. I'll check there two weeks for I can see. How you like this style of teach before we go home. You had. Question tell you already I'm like...

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