At age 16 I would babysit my Mom’s friend’s little 4 year old boy. I loved him very much, and he loved me very much. One day the lovely and smart Mom took a glance at my books, and inquired at the titles. One was a recent ecclectic meditation manual by Baba Ram Dass, another the third in the Frank Herbert Dune series, and the third was Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, by Shynryu Suzuki. “Heavy stuff”, she commented, and I was taken aback. But no, it’s not heavy at all! It’s light and full of joy and interest! Really! A few decades later I’m on a plane, and my seatmate asks what is between the covers of the large hardback book that has me so interested, and I try to explain what Ken Wilber writes about. “Wow, heavy stuff for airplane reading”. Huh? Again, I am puzzled, and don’t really know how to respond. A week ago, a reader commented that my forum posts were too heavy for him to understand, and that if I were to contribute to a stickman essay, I should steer clear of psychological musings, as the readership wouldn’t likely have the patience to sustain concentration to read it.
I’m writing a book, but I have only written a tentative first draft for one page for a possible first chapter. But I am writing the book – you see the book is my koan. It is a lense for how I manage and use attention. For instance last night I was playing with what attention is like if I focus on experiencing through a self, or what it is like if I guide attention such that the sounds around me are so immediate as to bypass the noticer (this takes intense mindfullness until a stable experience of attentive being can arrise without constantly having to bring attention back to focus), and then add other aspects of experience such as awareness of a chakra, then another, then a chi-flow. With several simultanous focuses the sense of a central processor as self necessarily gets diminished, sidelined, and becomes just one more aspect of what is seen. Then what is seen starts to get a feeling of being united with what is seeing – that is, it is mind, or awareness, that is being noticed. As if, when ones eyes are closed and one imagines an orange, the orange and the mind imagining it are both of the same flavor at once.
I’ve read that there are two ways of focusing on the energy in the spine – from the point of view of a self, noticing, in which case it feels like vibrant energy, or from the point of view of the energy – you become that – in which case you can’t see the body anymore and everything becomes white light. This seemed like such a fantastic tale to me, but now I’m realizing that intead of an innaccesible yogic story, it can be something to simply do and try out. But I accept that the mental training involved may demand very refined attention.
But these mental and energetic musings are not ultimately what I’m trying to aim for with the book. There is a breakthrough much more subtle than that, where wisdom, mind seeing it’s own arising as the play of awareness, heightens on itself to a sharper degree and different level. That is why I say that Weber eyes are more profound than mine. There are people who have a transmittable magic, and it is this intensity of awareness that is not merely free from ordinary delusions of central self, but arises knowing its nature.
So as I walk down the path, back to my house, I try to let the visual sensations self-organize into the wide recognized patterns of leaves and dirt and trees, loosen my fixation on the internal stories, and wonder and ask, what is the meaning of green? Perception as it arises is not merely something to accept the immediacy of, it is a question – each time.
The confusions that bind awareness to seeming to be intimately entwined with personal story and central processor are difficult, but not impossible to step out of. The sorcery of mastery of attention is a needed step for this, but even such sorcery is not the point or aim. What is the meaning of this moment? The question means, who and what, together, who and what? What is this? The question is one that is asked not even by language, it is a matter of refining and refining and refining attention and awareness to very subtle self reflexive levels until awareness arises self reflexive. And at the same time some sorcery.
What is the meaning of being rich? If you know, then it can be useful to be rich, and so continue with the sorcery of the mastery of money, and use it for the meaning of being rich. What is the meaning of being aware at all? It is not a heavy question – it is just one that takes devotion and mindfullness to come back to, over and over, minute after minute, year after year, decade after decade.
Heavy stuff? No!!! Everything that gets in the way of simple wisdom is heavy. I’m letting go of heavy stuff, and am participating in a game far more interesting than lite sitcoms.
I’m reading Wilber, taking notes on various stuff that pops to mind, meditating. All that is vaguely the process of writing a book. Still no hurry, as the fermenting process is part of it, but I do have a lot inside already ready. I wish that last weeks caffeinated mental flurry was recorded at least onto tape, as there was a good part of a chapter in it.
P.S. – I was recently musing on the question of how many interesting people have I met and have had some relationship with in my life. Few. Very few. The most interesting ones were willing to sustain attention if it meant greater wisdom, and they had to go to great, fantastic efforts of doing so. Well, what is a University education if not sustained attentive concentrations, what is reading and writing? It is impossible to be interesting without mental trainings, as you said when you told me that you are not interested in people who don’t read as you don’t find such people interesting. Mental trainings get very subtle, and the really interesting people have paid attention subtly, and continue to do so. I’ve met few interesting people. This is what can make my book interesting. I’m not afraid of the heavyness of the subject, but I agree with you that to make it broadly engaging will require all and more of skill and craft and heart.