• December 12, 2021

    In prayer, or when I meditate, my mind wanders incessantly and I have to keep bringing it back.

    This is the human experience. The ordinary mind is continuously turning over with mostly meaningless content. I’m not aware of it during the day because my activities and body sensations are dominant. Ordinary life is grounding. When I am tired or sleeping, the ongoing mental content becomes more evident. It’s a kind of ongoing ‘subvocalization’ or commentary often entirely disconnected from my life. I call it the ‘backdrop’. It’s a whole fantasy dream world exposed when I become inactive.

    This backdrop can be exposed in meditation or prayer.

    The first remedy is always to place attention on sensation. Voluntary attention cuts the backdrop’s power cord.

    But there is more. We are three part beings…body, psyche (thought and emotion) and presence. The psyche is in disorder so I cannot remain in the present. I am therefore vulnerable to being drawn into the backdrop. Entering the present with voluntary attention on sensation is a partial remedy. A further remedy is to encounter my timeless identity, the true ‘I’ that is found through the doorway of presence, where I meet myself as I always was. My original face before time began.

    Prayer can enable you to meet your real self. The One who is remembered in prayer enables me to remember myself. I am called to my true identity, as I was created in the beginning. When this happens, you won’t be satisfied to live in the unstable, inexhaustible churning of the psyche. You will sense that something is missing.

    Is this what it means to be present?

    It fulfills presence. I can ask to be present in the present and dis-identify from my personality. That’s stepping up to the threshold. Someone or something calls me through to the other side where I am who I always was. I am re-membered. It may make you uncomfortable to think of this someone as God but this greater presence needs no name.

    How do I know if I am having the experience of my original face?

    This is hard to express in words but I’ll try. There is a deep feeling of familiarity with myself that is wordless and timeless…a feeling that is direct, not mediated or derived from something else. The state recognizes itself. There is a sensation as if my face is shining. And there is a sense of being seen, as if I am facing in the right direction for an intimate meeting with an honored guest. There is nothing grim or forced. It’s a feeling of perfect security as if I have come home.

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  • October 18, 2021

    Q. What do you do when you get lost in thinking and you are no longer observing?

    A. I find my sensations. Attention on sensation brings me into the present and that’s the antidote to obsessive thinking. Sensing can mean listening, looking, touching…any sensing will do.

    Q. Can I set some sort of alarm to remind me to sense.

    A. You can try but any such alarm just becomes another soon-ignored external trigger. For me, lost in thought has its own sense of being disembodied, weightless, not located anywhere. When I catch site of that, I suddenly enter myself and the physical place where I am. Coming to myself is a spontaneous event triggered by noticing I am lost and disconnected. Years of observing my automatic functioning have made it possible for me to see it in operation. This falls under the general heading of using sleep to wake up. I think that’s when it becomes possible to change.

    Now, being lost in thought is generally not as innocuous as it sounds. As the thinking apparatus turns over in its habitual rounds, there are also sensations that support those thoughts. Thought and sensation travel together, reinforcing each other and reducing attention to a thin whisper. Attention is enslaved. The habitual rounds of emotional conditioning are energy drains. The small amounts of higher energy available to me are lost.

    Perhaps you think that observation of self is so you can describe your behavior precisely and objectively? There is a benefit to this but it is secondary. Attention itself slowly releases the emotional conditioning held in the body. Attention itself is a catalyst for transformation.

    Suppose I have the sensation of anger. From past observing, I know how anger tends to unfold in me. I know the kind of thinking that this unfolding train of sensation attracts and supports. When I see all this, can my attention withhold and contain the expressions of anger…the words, the gestures…without judgment or justification? If anger can’t continue its habitual movement through the nervous system and the thinking apparatus, it may give up its energy for other uses, like being conscious. This is transformative. It requires an active impartial attention.

    The aim of observing self is to enter an attention space where everything is there in the presence of attention, where inside and outside me are all together in the attention space. How is this achieved? An observer separates and divides a space between observer and observed. In an attention space, attention is the observer and everything is held in its embrace. This is a very deep form of release. I cease to be a bully to myself and my environment. You did know, did you not, that I am my biggest bully, moment by moment, shoulding and coulding and woulding, not seeing what is really there.

    When we don’t have an observer, presence steps into the emptiness, and there is the will to be in attention space where all things are possible.

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  • September 22, 2021

    Q: Why put such emphasis on observation of self? It doesn’t change anything.

    A: It doesn’t change anything quickly but impartial observation of self is the best way I know to change myself and my relationship to life. We are tied up in knots. Strands of habit wired into the muscles, constantly repeated mechanical reactions and fixed self-images prevent insight, limit capacity and drain our higher energies, making it impossible to do the work of a real human being.

    We are heavily programmed and we must de-program so we can see and feel clearly. This does not mean changing the program. De-programming cannot be accomplished by the one who is programmed. So I delegate the task to attention.

    Analysis doesn’t untie the knots unless it triggers impartial attention. So, aim for impartial attention by observing self objectively…physical expressions of self. You will be dealing with the past because all the unresolved problems of the past are with you presently, whether you think about them or not, and they are expressed in the behavior you observe.


    Q: You seem to suggest that attention is a kind of conditioning eraser.

    A: Yes, it’s like that. Habits of behavior and thought are patterns of neurons in the nervous system. The linked patterns are held together with subtle energy we call sensitive energy, the energy of sensation. Patterns can be slowly dissolved by application of a higher energy which clears the energy field. That higher energy is attention. To work, it must be impartial. Why? Impartial attention means attention that is not channeled through, or directed by, the thinker who pretends to inhabit my headbrain. Headbrain attention is too weak to erase my conditioning. I must learn to trust the work to attention.

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  • September 17, 2021

    It is easy to think and talk about work on self but very difficult to do it consistently. The secret is to use the difficulties of doing work to work more often.

    Do you know how to observe yourself? At first you will observe yourself with judgment or justification. This is good, this is bad, this is why. These reactions block further observation of self.

    Perhaps you try to stop judgment or justification. Does this help you to observe more? No? So, alternatively, observe the judgment and justification. Do not allow the judge/justifier to become the observer; make them the observed. They are primarily body sensations, are they not?, followed by strings or loops of thought which trigger more sensations.

    Sensations do not need commentary. They exist in the nervous system and can be sensed there. Accept the sensations and track them. As the thought loops arise, taking you towards discursive thinking, take refuge in the sensations. Don’t leave sensing for thinking. This is something you can learn to do. It’s simply a re-placement of attention.

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  • January 31, 2020

    The most important tool for work on self is attention. Without access to attention, there is no work.

    Perhaps you think you can develop your attention, that you can have more attention if you make efforts. There are qualities that can be developed over time with effort but, in my experience, attention is not one of them.

    The secret to accessing more attention is to observe and understand inattention. This is yet another example of the via negativa. The problem is that the ‘me’ that would practice attention is itself the source of inattention…the source of distraction. Attention itself is not a property of the ordinary world and it is not something that can be manipulated by the elements of this world for more than a few moments. Instead, can I observe my tendency to be distracted?

    Attention is a natural function of the universe by which it establishes connections with itself. Attention is the very life of the universe, the means for knowing itself in its particulars. This will not make sense to you until it is part of your experience.

    One thing I can do to enhance my access to attention is to clean up the vestiges of past attention. I leave behind me a trail of connections which are held by attention…things promised but not completed, unnecessary worries, possessiveness about things like a car, a wallet, a future meeting and so on. Can I lift attention from these small fixations when it is not needed there? Is this something I ‘do’ or is this simply allowing attention to call itself back from the places where it has been left and is no longer needed or where it is not needed now?

    Let’s call this ‘retrieval’. Can I retrieve misplaced attention? Can I invoke attention and then allow it to call to itself the scattered bits of itself that are not needed where they are? Obviously, this does not include removing attention where it is properly placed on people, things and tasks you are committed to.

    Invocation of attention is a potent tool. Attention can attend to itself. In fact, only attention can attend to itself; everything else is too slow.

    The secret? Learn how to summon attention and learn how to submit to it. Presence is your reward.

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  • December 10, 2019

    Every human being bends the universe. The fabric of the earth is formed into a sentient being capable of movement, thought and feeling. Such extraordinary order is created, the product of high intelligence and energies which run counter to the law of entropy. Resources are commandeered for our sustenance.

    Each of us is a vortex summoning attention and drawing the attention of others, initiating their thoughts and reactions. We create small universes of things that matter…relationships, special items, daily activities, places to be…that give shape to our lives. This little universe is manifest in our physical form and its habits but it also exists in the invisible world where certain habits of thought and emotion arise.

    In this world, every human being has sovereign power to bend the universe. The very act of living does so. The power derives from access to the non-physical attributes of will and attention. Why assume that this power is entirely dependent on the physical body? Why assume that the invisible dimensions of you and me do not continue?

    Our lives are not our own

    from womb to tomb we are bound to others, past and present.

    The consequences of our individual lives ripple throughout eternity

    and by each crime and every kindness

    we birth our future.

    (Cloud Atlas)

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