A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The fulcrum of attention

     The last few days, like many days, have been rocky.  My husband planted a rose bush a few inches from a brick wall and this triggered some discussion.  My teenage daughter seemed withdrawn and thoughts arose in my mind that caused turmoil. There are hundreds of lay-offs at the institution I work at due to downsizing, and I may lose my job.  You know the drill, from the mundane stressors to occasional intense angst that seems to come out of nowhere and have no cause,  life rolls on.  And beyond the tiny and sometimes larger travails of this individual life, there is the massive suffering and also joys of billions of people and animals on this planet.

      This morning I read a stunning essay on 'Sailor' Bob Adamson's website.  http://members.iinet.net.au/~adamson7/intro.html

      Bob helps me to see that there are basically waves and the space in which those waves occur.  Attention is usually riveted by the waves, but it is possible for attention to shift and become conscious of the space in which the waves occur.

      Waves, or vibrations, or patterns of energy, comprise everything that we are capable of detecting.  Thoughts, feelings, sensations, all physical and mental objects, are basically transient energy waves that appear and subside in the space of awareness.

      The noisy waves of thought and emotion and sensation are a magnet for attention.  Yet there is always the possibility of shifting attention to notice the space in which the waves occur.  Why bother?  Because this space in which everything occurs is the deeper self.  It is the space of present awareness.  Some might call it the no-self...the words don't matter.  The reality that the words point to is what matters.

      I'm not just my story, I'm the silent awareness that knows the story and without which there would be no story.  I'm the silent awareness that knows the story but is not itself a story.

      The story is the dream-like surface of life, and I do the best I can on this level, but remain in touch with what matters most: the deeper dimension of being, which is to say, the space in which the story occurs.

      The space and the waves are no more different than water and ice-cubes.

     Consciousness and the objects of consciousness are in no way separate. Awareness and the arisings in awareness are an indivisible whole.  They cannot be separated.  They form a seamless continuity.  Yet within this whole, it is possible to shift the accent of awareness from the objects to the aware space in which the objects occur.  Form and formlessness are one, as the Heart Sutra says.  We tend to be lost in form, but it is possible to become conscious of formlessness.  This is key.

      The space of now is where the waves called past and future thoughts appear.  It is the intersection of time and eternity, the intersection of the dream and reality, the intersection of ego and essence.  It is the fulcrum where attention can shift from content to space.  This is the shift from powerlessness to power.

     Most of my life I have been primarily aware of  the objects of consciousness, while I have overlooked the presence of consciousness itself.

      I have been lost in content and I have ignored (been ignorant of) the space in which the content occurs.  I have been focused on things and I have discounted the space of  no-thing that makes everything possible.  I have lived in the mind (thought) and been oblivious of the presence of awareness in which thought occurs.

      No-thing, space, awareness, consciousness, being, stillness, silence, emptiness, life, mystery, love, essence, Self, now, presence, freedom, openness, spirit, formlessness- all these words are synonyms that point to the immediacy of awake space that is the medium in which everything exists.  It is the dimension of eternity which is the substratum of all appearances.  It is the dimension of the unborn in which the born exists.

      Attention is shifting from the wave to the space in which the wave occurs.  Noticing is shifting from "me and my life" to the no-me space of being that is my deeper self.

      There is less interest in becoming and more interest in being.

      This shift in attention feels like new eyes are opening in me, quiet eyes that see what is without needing to comment on it.  Quiet eyes that can simultaneously sense forms and the space of emptiness from which all forms emerge.

      The exhausting and delusory effort to improve on the perfection of what is subsides in this moment.

      There is a sense of being one with the unfolding  mystery, of joining in the creative energy of the universe in its ceaseless expression of the good.  This is a radically different way to live than the ego stance of being a special-someone who is going to manipulate things toward correcting a mentally defined deficiency.

      Einstein said that no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.  The level of consciousness called thought  has created the problems in the world today.  The mind has created the problems and only awareness can solve them, for awareness is a higher level of intelligence than thought.

      In my own experience it is the level of awareness and not the level of thought that solves problems like a rose bush planted close to a brick wall,  my relationship with my daughter, and the possibility of job loss.

      It is from this deeper level of consciousness that true solutions can be found for individual and collective problems.   Attention shifts to this level of consciousness easily when space is noticed rather than objects.  It is possible for anyone to shift the fulcrum of attention from thought to awareness.   See Bob's essay for a very clear description of this shift.

      Thank you for being in this space.



Anonymous said...

Well expressed. Bob Adamson has been pointing to THAT for around 30 years or more. The world is not interested in this direct pointing even though it is the only way out of psychological suffering. The investment in a belief in being a 'person' with all its history and its hopes and dreams is too much to give up, it would seem.
The article is well written and some may find a resonance in being from it. - Gilbert - Bob's editor for 9 years.

Alton said...

Hi Colleen and friends.

There is so much on this post to comprehend on a higher level. It is always an enlightening event to be here.

From my experience, in order to abide in the space between the waves, I need to see clearly the power that the waves have over my beingness.
Where I am currently at in the quest toward unity, I cannot go into denial about the effects that the waves have on my consciousness, whether pleasant of unpleasant and hold the attention in the SPACE.

A woman doing a survey called the other day. I wanted to be nice and answer her questions, but I had so many things to do so I rushed her and was so rude to her. Finally she asked who I voted for and I hung up on her.
The waves that resulted were quite upsetting, causing remorseful mental states, that kept appearing on the screen of consciousness.
How could I treat another being like that. Well, at least I saw it as a learning experience that wont be repeated. Those particular waves will no longer
obscure the medium that enables the waves of temporary events.

Another event caused me to see unpleasant waves. A friend shared some personal family stuff and I gave advice instead of being a sounding board. Who am I to know what is the right thing to do for another being. I like this Nisargdatta quote. "A person who knows what is good for someone else is dangerous".

Friends really do not want any advice. They just want someone to talk to and be a sounding board so that they can solve the problems of the waves themselves. Live and learn. .

In my quest for awakening, I have been given the teachings of the Advaita sages and also the teachings of the Buddha.
I hope to see the elemental nature of the waves so that the waves wont be any different then the waters of consciousness.


Triza said...

Beautiful post and so much to learn....Thank you for sharing your thoughts.sometimes it does feel like a deeper part of me is talking to me through your words.

roseduncan said...

This sound stressful, and yet you're right, stress is something we focus on too much without being able to let go and see the bigger picture. I hope you can do your best to fight against that, but when one's liveliehood is threatened or one's family is in turmoil it's difficult to see the bigger picture. It's the smaller one that prevails. I hope all this works out and that you also find a way to get through it without being overwhelmed by it. That you're able to step back and take the necessary breath and then continue on.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Gilbert,
I really appreciate you responding to my email and looking at the post. It becomes clearer that the central focus of life doesn't have to be about manipulating the waves, i.e. achieving desired circumstances, feelings, experiences. The nature of waves is to oscillate between polarities, and there is this endless revolving of pleasant and unpleasant mind-states and conditions.

But outside of that ferris wheel of the mind-made me, there is THIS! Ha, ha- it's been this gorgeous openness all along, and "my" attention was so glued to the ferris wheel that I somehow didn't notice!

I read the most recent post on your website today and the mind-bubble of thought burst in that moment. Thank you! Anyone else who is interested, Gilbert Schultz's website is http://seeing-knowing.com/

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
I respect you for pointing out that denial of the effect of the waves, denial of the pain and turmoil that arises for all of us, is not what this is about. The conditioning, the skandas, the reactivity, the patterns of thought and feeling are powerful indeed. But are those feelings/reactions/judgments, etc. who you really are, or are they just impersonal phenomena like leaves blowing in the wind, following universal physical laws?

I tend to feel very bad about myself if I am unkind to someone or do something I think I shouldn't do. It sounds like you have similar reactions. I find it does help to see all the mind-stuff as impersonal. But as Gilbert points out- there is a huge reluctance among all of us to see anatta in our conditioned reactivity. I find I am have some moments of mercy for myself, and I also hope that you find mercy for yourself. Eckhart says that our main guru is our suffering. This is a startling statement that is elusive to the mind's understanding.

Thank you for being here Alton.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Triza,

You write, "sometimes it feels like a deeper part of me is talking to me through your words." What a wonderful way to express this! It's interesting how mutual the process is. In a way I feel your presence, and the presence of my other friends on the blogosphere, when the words move through, and it is as if we are listening together to the life within. Thank you VERY much for being here!

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Naomi,

"Big picture, litte picture"...that's a good way to describe it. I've heard the analogy that if a tablespoon of salt is placed in a glass of water, there is a strong salty taste; but if a tablespoon of salt is added to a fresh lake, the water still has a clear taste. If I am focused in on my problems they seem overwhelming; but if there is a larger context, such as the vast field of conscious awareness, there is less suffering. Maybe that's part of the potential value of stress and obstacles- to nudge us out of the small hyper-focus on our personal concerns.

Thanks for your comments Naomi, and I am stepping back and taking the breath you recommend right as I type these words...ahhh, that does loosen the knot of attention-tangled-in-worry-thoughts. Thank you!

No One In Particular said...

There are no problems.

Colleen Loehr said...

There are no problems, and I love your blog- thank you for visiting No One In Particular!

Shamash said...

I love that essay by Sailor Bob too. In fact, I remember putting one of those google side wiki things on that page. I've printed that essay out, and used to read it from time to time when I was free. I very rarely print anything out! Wonderful, wonderful post Colleen. Thank you!

Colleen Loehr said...

Thanks Shamash, I've also printed out Bob's article and refer to it from time to time- it's enormously helpful. I've ordered the new biography of Bob that just came out and I'm looking forward to reading it. From Nisargadatta to Bob to Gilbert to John to Rodney to James Braha and many others- there's a powerful wave of awakening moving through human consciousness. It's an amazing time to be alive. Thanks for sharing in this adventure.

DirectSpirit said...


Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Aliman, Yes is one of my favorite words. Sometimes it is a mantra that travels with me through the day. Thanks for visiting, Colleen


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