• May 27, 2019

    I attended a concert in which two splendidly trained musicians played cello concerti by Beethoven and Grieg. It was enlightening to experience the difference in the compositions.

    The Beethoven communicated extraordinary order. What do I mean by order? There was a delightful balance between the two instruments, a dialogue in which one unfolded and revealed the other, coherence in the melody lines, evolution of the theme and reprise where it was needed. The concerto unveiled the intimate connection between order and beauty. In classical Indian philosophy, this is sattva (goodness, constructiveness, harmony).

    By order I do not mean the squared off, static nature of modern office buildings but rather the dynamic balancing and rebalancing of the elements which characterize living systems and real creative endeavour. Beauty requires order but not all order is beautiful.

    The Grieg composition was emotional and incoherent. Ideas were begun and abandoned without development. The two instruments were at odds with each other. The pace was feverish and every line seemed to end in higher volume. In Sanskrit, it would be categorized as tamas (darkness, destructive, chaotic).

    Perhaps this is a commentary on the possible range of the human condition?

    Do I give too much importance to emotion, by which I tend to mean passion? This rarely amounts to feeling; more often it reflects an intensity of sensation. The ‘higher emotions’ of clarity, order and beauty are perhaps too subtle to attract and hold my attention yet these are the ones most open to possible discovery and transformation. To apprehend these qualities, I must have order in myself. For this, certain music may be helpful.

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  • April 17, 2015

    Last night we inquired into the nature of clarity. I would like to pursue this further.

    Do you have a question?

    Yes, what is the relationship between clarity and attention?

    Can you summarize what we found in our exploration of clarity?

    I think the main point is that clarity is seeing distinctly, seeing the uniqueness of each thing, not confusing them, where confusion is the inaccurate merging of things that are not the same.  Also not projecting our prejudices and limitations on what is seen. Clarity is objective and spacious in nature. It has neither agreement nor disagreement, it is neutral.

    Good. What happens when attention enters your experience? By this I mean voluntary attention, attention in which there is participation? Can you do this now, not theoretically.

    I do not see how to begin.

    When I voluntarize attention, it is experienced as a substantial fact. It has weight and energy because it is first of all an engagement with something. Attention is the instantaneous creation of a bridge connecting you to the object of attention. Many particulars are magically transferred over this bridge in both directions. You absorb something of what is attended to, more so if the observer is eliminated. Does clarity have this quality of engagement?


    It does not. Clarity is a state of perception in which everything is left as it is, just so. The nature of each thing is revealed, whether it is a physical object, a thought or sensation, a feeling, a space in which these phenomena occur. There is no wish to change the arrangement, no preference for any of the objects of experience. But attention does change what it attends. Attention selects and holds. It engages. It establishes a relationship. It has a quality of action. Perhaps we could say that attention is perception with will, which provides the focus and the force which is sensed in attention.

    What does it mean to volutarize attention?

    To voluntarize something is to engage in it fully, body, mind and heart. It’s an agreement to participate which removes the action from the mechanical realm and places it in the conscious realm. All activity is a function of will but mostly it falls into the mechanical where it is not connected to its source. When we voluntarize, we connect to real will whose source, whose initial impulse, is always love.

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