There are two basic settings of the attention. In one of them, my thinking steps between attention and the object of attention. I act as if my attention depends upon thinking to direct it and keep it in place. This is head-brain attention. This form of attention is weak and easily diverted because it is funnelled through the thinker who is notoriously unreliable. Thinking flickers with associations, prejudices and habitual reactions which interrupt attention, causing it to be unstable and often involuntary.
Head-brain attention is a dance between thinking and attending. The thinking apparatus steals some of the available attention to provide energy for considering itself, its aims, its analysis, its evaluation of its experience and other preoccupations.
The second attention, which we call being-attention, is impartial and self-willed. Nothing stands between this attention and its object. This attention locks in and establishes a relationship with its object, acting as a kind of bridge uniting viewer and viewed, hearer and heard. The master of attention has learned that this attention is not his, but rather a universal property accessible to sentient beings. She has learned that this attention can be beckoned or invoked to perform a particular task but the task is then fully entrusted to the attention. Thought follows attention rather than the other way around.
Let’s say I wish to attend to a beautifully shaped cup. I place attention on the cup. I then removes itself…. the thinker, the observer…so that there is, moment to moment, a direct engagement of attention with cup. My eyes and mind are filled with cup. In first attention, I am in here looking at something out there. There is separation which limits knowing. In second attention, inside and outside are one movement, one taste, more knowing.