My unconscious, involuntary attention holds me in time and space. This mechanism makes it possible for me to continue in my ordinary life. As an analogy, this form of attention is like a laser reading the data implanted in a DVD. My life is displayed in a predictable form…even if the events seem to surprise me, my reactions do not.
When Ouspensky and others talk about eternal recurrence, this is what I think is meant.
There are two clear signs that involuntary attention is operating. Time is sequential, one moment flowing into another without a stop. And space is dead, just something to be filled up with things but otherwise empty, a negative.
Can it be otherwise?
Can there be stillness? I find that there cannot be stillness if I try to stop the flow of time. The river continues to flow and I am swept along in it. To be still requires that I access another dimension of time. What makes this possible? Voluntary attention. Why? Because its nature is not in passing time…its nature is immediate and therefore timeless.
Can there be spaciousness? Voluntary attention is spaciousness. I enter attention-space where what was empty is alive and full of ‘substance’, not of a physical nature but real nonetheless.
There is probably nothing more important than reclaiming voluntary attention and then allowing it to perform according to its laws, without interference. This is a moment-to-moment undertaking requiring that ‘I’ participate with subtle skill, not as the subject-center who sees, but as the one who is seen and responds.
When I try to voluntarize my attention, I find that I cannot control it.
To voluntarize is not to control. The secret is to participate in attention, like a dance partner. The secret of the secret is that attention is not yours, it’s a gift from the universe, a quality of space itself. When I think of it as mine, I reduce it to myself.