After I did the Attentional Round-Trip experiment, I kept playing around with my attention: changed the target (from a distant sound, to a bodily sensation, to the light visible through my closed eyes), fine-tuned the bandwidth from very narrow to very wide, the focus from soft to sharp. Using attention that way made it feel like a precise tool.

Experiment: Total attention

Explore the question, “Can I be totally attentive (to whatever: an object, my self, what-is)?”

Total attention means for the experiment: a state of perception without psychological thought/memory.

What about the entity carrying out the experiment, doing the observing?
Have we managed to gather any intel on them? Who’s side are they on? Double agent perhaps?

1 Like

Well, what does your experience of performing the experiment reveal about the performer?

In general my experience of what happens when consciously observing particular stuff, is that it can lead to 2 different (seemingly contrary) outcomes.

Either the thing/subject takes up the whole universe/fills my whole conscious space; or it vanishes completely.

I’m not sure, but it seems to be due to how much effort/concentration I’m exerting, and how real the thing feels to me.

Focussing on breath is something I usually avoid concentrating on, as it will quickly take up my whole attention, there will be just breathing.
Breath and the body feel very real/solid and maybe I have been conditioned by too much Yoga/Qi gong.

The observer doing the observing on the other hand, dissapears pretty much as soon as it is noticed. Direct observation (by which I mean turning one’s attention to) of feelings tends to dissipate them. As if I have difficulty being 2 separate entities, one looking at the other.

In fact I don’t really bother making the decision or effort to do anything when practising awareness.
Its more a case of giving some time in the day to putting aside all notion of effort or goals, and see whats up
Something will immediately present itself, and when it has presented itself a couple of times, I just let it go. After a while it may come back, or something else will - but I am not doing anything, am not the boss of what my experience should be.

The moments when “I am not doing anything” are lapses of thought’s continuity that illuminate momentarily how I is keeping itself in the dark.

By this I mean : not consciously trying to do anything in particular. Not in charge of what should be.

what do you mean? are you saying that the difference between “thought” and “silence”, reveals something?

Why? What’s the payoff for you? Pleasure, edification, spiritual quest? Curiosity? If no payoff, then again: Why?

But doing something, nonetheless…

are you saying that the difference between “thought” and “silence”, reveals something?

The difference between thought and silence, is radical, and can’t help but reveal much about the brain that experiences it.

Likewise, the silence of psychological thought (or all thought, if you prefer), reveals everything the brain needs to know about what it is doing relentlessly, and why. But I suspect that this can’t happen until the brain is prepared for the shock of total exposure.

The payoff would be for the brain itself (rest, it can let go of the idea that it must be in control) and for the rest of the universe (one less person up to shenanigans for a while, one less confused greedy person trying to control the world)

But usually I like to say that the payoff is freedom from the unrelenting need for payoff.

The payoff is that reality is not reinforcing itself, experience is not reinforcing its authority of truthiness. I am not reinforcing my reification of self vs the universe

If we are on such a quest of accumulation and progess, this is just the usual greed at work, not action from the understanding of greed.
I am not on a spiritual quest, merely avoiding harm by avoiding the dictat of greed and confusion.

For that payoff to pay off it would have to have a positive vibe for you, i.e. be a payoff. Non?

You know what I’m trying to get at: Is there anything we think or do that does is not motivated by the desire for subtle or gross payoff?

Yes - there is the idea that we may all turn away from greed and hatred, that we all see the seeds of violence in greed and pleasure. There is the positive vibe in this story.

The weird thing about this story is that we must abandon all hope, all desire to obtain victory, all belief that the characters in the story and the story itself is even real.

I’ve heard the MMK* of Nagarjuna described as a poison pill you swallow, causing you to vomit up all your beliefs and stories and views, and finally the poison pill itself.

* that I assume you’ve worked through diligently and committed at least partly to memory?

Actually, as a scholar, I’m playing catch up.
For example I call myself a zen practitioner, but only realised that Dogen existed about a couple of years ago.
I have not read through Nagarjuna’s stuff (despite his being a major celeb) - I’ll have another go now, but I get bored of really old stuff (like shakespeare) because I don’t get the cultural references and olde language.
I suppose I am lacking in motivation - there is no real need for accumulation.
What I like is finding what appears to be clear pointing at the human experience - can be from present day intellectuals, historians, neurologists, as much as anywhere.

My first impression https://terebess.hu/english/Nagarjuna.pdf is of words in a vacuum - I need context to be able to engage.
On the 3rd page, I give up, reading seems meaningless.

(I preferred the wikipedia page on Whitehead for example)

I adopt words and stories (by neurologists or mystics) because they seem effective in certain contexts, at describing what is taking place, Not as authoritative beliefs that must be clung to in order to obtain power and security.

I’m kidding about a need to read Nagarjuna. I’m a big fan of not reading what you’re supposed to read and reading just enough to get a hint and then running with it on your own.

It sounds like the story is imporant though, as a framework for action/being/identity. The story of course always being : my version of the story (which is the only version that is ever available to us)

For me stories can be further from or closer to the truth. The MMK story is imo about as close to the truth as words/ideas can get. But, as Inquiry would say: What do I know of ‘the truth’?

What is this opinion based on? A preference based on a comparison of various texts?
Something more than a personal literary bias?

And could you give us a one (or 3) liner describing the message of the world’s most truthy text?