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The Awakening of Intelligence

A sage once said, “If you think you’re awake, you’re dreaming; if you know you’re dreaming, you’re awake”

You’re taking in the view from a hill you’ve hiked up to, and you can see for miles, across a verdant forest beneath a blue sky with puffy white clouds drifting slowly above. The mind is stunned into silence as you behold all that is before you, and before you know it a banal thought crosses your mind. A reminder, perhaps, a cliche, something irrelevant, that breaks the complete attention, the timelessness of the moment.

Were you to have remained transfixed and transported by the view for any longer, would it have made any difference? Possibly, but the only way to know is for thought to be less inclined to pipe up when there’s no need for it. As long as the default mode of the brain is “I”, “me”, “mine”, nothing is more important. Thought is taking its proper place according to its conclusion that it’s all we have to work with.

From what we now know about the brain, when one isn’t giving complete attention to a particular task, the default mode network automatically takes over. And one of the functions of this network is to remind you of who you supposedly are, your past and your future. One could say it’s the part of the brain responsible for psychological thinking…and it’s the default mode network, which means when you have nothing better to do, it’s best to dwell on your imagined identity and its hoped-for-future. Our brain operates this way because we’ve evolved from apes, wild animals who don’t do much thinking because their lives depend on complete attention - not thinking ability.

Our lives depend on complete attention, too, but complete attention to our thinking because we are the biggest threat to the health and well-being of our planet, and if we can’t make the radical change from being self-centered to having no center at all, things can only get worse. But if this change is possible, it deserves our complete attention.

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I am not sure how far such a line of reasoning could help, i.e. to counter pose the default mode (brain operation) of species to the default mode (of it’s continued existence to whatever time beyond any relevant human conception) of the planet (which has witnessed the evolution of every single species and to which every single species are expendables in the last analysis). I would suggest to consider the possibility of it’s opposite too and integrate both by understanding. Without proceeding in the direction of a veiled anthropocentric view, without a dramatic making of an effort towards something by citing a higher purpose (as in planet welfare), without suggesting that a non-default mode of brain operation of our species is anti evolutionary though yet pro planet, we need to understand that sustaining of the planet and any systems beyond that, along with the ascension of human being towards his full potential are never to be counter posed and goes together hand-in-hand. If we choose to counter pose, then systems and methods to overcome such conflict becomes all important; it’ll be a slow and sure progression to the degenerating aspect of organized religious practices (rather than understanding their essence) or to the helplessness brought about by succumbing to inevitability of the laws of matter which is endlessly refined by science.

Physically, we have a center. We must eat, sleep, fuck, secure ourselves etc. The psychological realm devolves from that. But there is another facet to that center, which is the need to socialise, communicate, love, care etc.

Our lives do not 'depend upon complete attention." If they did then we would all be dead already. So, start from what is. Our lives continue in the presence of variable attention. It is enough. Now, you say you want this other thing. You call it “complete attention.” You have invested emotion in the idea by calling it a necessity for life. You are after it. That is the game. Unfortunately, and in your heart you know this, it is not something you will ever gain.

Where does this actually leave you? You have invented a new holy grail and it has enslaved you.

Am I wrong?

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I play with holy grails. I like to juggle them until they break and I have to fashion a new one. Am I wrong?

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Yes. Especially this part:

This is what you did with time. Instead of seeing what K was saying you made up your own illusions, dreams, definitions, non-sense. Your thought, which is the sum of your conditioning, is doing this. You do understand that, right?

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Yes, but you also play with words and phrases. Take your last phrase as an example. You ask, “Am I wrong?”

Compare that with my use of the same phrase and you will see they have totally different meanings, despite being the same short string of words. The play you are doing there is an attempt to defuse my meaning by means of changing its context. I will explain.

I wrote a factual statement and asked (factually) if it was right or wrong. My question, “Am I wrong?” was about the veracity of the statement. It was to do with accuracy.

You made a statement about yourself and asked if you were wrong to do the things you do. Your question was not about the accuracy of the statement but the morality or sanity of what it referred to.

By echoing my words but changing their context, your ‘play’ is to insinuate I was making a moral point, not a factual point, which was not the case.

But I would like to ask you, why do you play with holy grails? What is the purpose? You say it is a juggling trick, a repetitive pattern you engage in. Play, break, construct anew. Why?

It is not a question of being a wrong thing to do. It is a question of finding out why you engage in such a behavior and if it is suited to or undermines your greater purpose, whatever that is.

As a means of self-distraction it may serve very well. But it’s probably a poor way to relate to other people.

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I doubt this, Jack. Jugglers juggle.

Thanks for stating your opinion without sputtering and cursing.

“Complete attention” does sound a ‘bit much’. What I see as the drive behind my ‘search ‘ for all these years is to get away from psychological suffering: worry, anxiety, fear, etc. Now it’s understood that I/self/thought am that suffering…and looking closely how this all works ie, when something arises that is seen as undesirable, there is a reaction to that, it may be a fact, or a memory, or a projected image of something that may/could/will happen. There is a ‘resistance ‘, a reaction and something results. I suffer. It may be small or it may be great but there is a reaction that is recognized as suffering …is it that the animal brain , experiences the resistance and the thought about it , as a danger to the organism itself, in the same way as if it was reacting to a physical threat? The body tenses, breathing, heart rate changes,etc? Can anyone clarify this?..And regarding ‘attention ‘ it seems that it needs to be present ‘at least ‘ when resistance to ‘what is’ arises , in order to negate the image making machinery as it begins? …When there is in K’s words, a ‘minding of what is happening’?

That’s how I see it too, Dan. If something or someone is seen as a threat to our emotional security the body reacts as if our physical security is threatened. If I’ve been training hard for years to make it as a college level, or pro, athlete and I get cut from the team the first semester I may feel like my life is over. Or my life no longer has any meaning.

Is it that this ‘bundle of memories and experience ‘ aka the self cannot move with the events of life without resisting those that are judged to be ‘unfavorable ‘ to its wellbeing? We face the movement of life with a protective ‘wall’? Always picking and choosing? What doesn’t ‘suit’ the self is rejected…and the rejection is a form of suffering?

It’s not just the rejection that’s suffering is it? Isn’t the fear of not achieving…or of failing…of being rejected…itself, suffering? I feel like my physical being is being threatened when it’s purely a psychological threat. But that fear is surely felt as suffering.

It is and then there is the reaction of pulling away from that sensation. But isn’t it the awakening of intelligence that says “wait, see what this is…”? “See how this works “?

I don’t know if it’s the awakening of intelligence or the intellect, but it’s questioning…inquiring…and it’s a start I think.

I’m not that bothered by the term “complete attention” although it sounds a bit weird to me, a bit like “wet water” or “hot heat”.
Partial attention or selective attention would I suppose be what we are being warned against, and quite right too! These wouldn’t really be attention. More like discrimination or favouritism.
Attention either is or isn’t .

What bothers me is that we should pick and choose what we pay attention to -" our thinking" in this case. Who is making these choices and why such favouritism?
Picking and choosing is not “complete attention”.

I think that only you can discover what is going on inside you Dan, which is not to say it is not the same thing going on inside everyone else.

I can say, for my own part, that there are both movements going on in me. There is the running away and the standing and facing. I think it’s obvious that the latter is saner. But there is an unconscious choosing going on when faced with psychological challenges, a choosing between the two paths. Further, it seems to me that this unconscious choosing takes place along the lines of what the mind, in its self-protective mode, can stand.

And maybe you’re right, it mirrors the physical. In the physical, when faced with perceived danger, you face it, run from it or simply freeze. Those are the fight or flight or freeze options. The simply horrible Eckhart Tolle talks of this. In fact it’s the only decent thing he says, not that he thought of it or invented it, but he brings it to the fore, for consideration.

So it seems that arising from the physical, the psychological parades the same dance moves. And it makes me wonder if there is any profound and significant difference between the psychological and the physical or whether we are just kidding ourselves that there may be a higher level. The topographic model of mind may itself give rise to hierarchically perceived levels of something called ‘enlightenment.’

Well, that’s just an idea, or a concern. One thing I do know: No one can direct you out of this maze.

I suppose surrender is out of the question?

I would rule out any ‘awakening of the intellect’ Tom. The intellect is not a ‘thing’ so it can’t awake. The intellect may be better though of as a mode of mental activity, which simply means activity of the mind. A mode cannot awake. It can only operate.

And that makes me also wonder about intelligence. Is there something called ‘intelligence,’ envisaged as a thing-in-itself, that somehow has the power or possibility to ‘awake?’

Okay, it may just be a metaphor, but we need linguistic accuracy to consider what we are truly trying to grapple with. And unless we have that we will mostly e grappling with words and the debris that lies in their wake.

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Allowed to flow freely?

Nor is it choiceless awareness, which is why Krishnamurti used these terms. We can’t even aspire to complete attention or choiceless awareness because picking and choosing is our conditioned response to everything.

All we can do is learn from our mistakes, but if we’re full of conclusions, opinions, and are compulsively argumentative, we can’t learn at all.

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