Those familiar with Rene Daumal’s Mount Analogue1 will recognize the reference to the only real means of payment in that far-off country. The peradam was described as “a clear and extremely hard stone, a true crystal, harder than diamond,” so transparent that it was almost impossible to see and extremely difficult to find. The discovery of a peradam was never accidental, but resulted from some kind of inner effort. At such a moment, its “brilliant sparkle like that of a dewdrop” might catch the eye of those who truly and sincerely sought the truth.
The editors invited a number of people in groups from the United Kingdom and Denmark to write a few paragraphs about the inner jewels they have gathered in their attempts at working with attention.
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Attention in me responds to a call, but not to a command...
Attention allows the energy, the vibrations, the life in me to be sensed.
Then a reaction, a distraction takes the attention in me, and the lion devours the lamb.
— Duncan Bateson
My wish for attention has a fresh depth when I think of my children.
Can I find some presence in my self, some stillness and centredness amid the demands on my attention insistently tugged by each child?
Can I give them something real from myself, the real attention that I know I can approach in rare moments when I try?
I wish to try.
Attention for me, then, with them, is a collectedness, an attempt to connect with them as a person who is there physically, emotionally, with my mind.
To allow their presence to be felt, heard with a weight and a texture.
This attention is fleeting, but even in those brief moments I know there is a true connection between me and each child.
— Debbie Bethlehem
How do I sense the action of attention?
Can I feel the energy sinking down through my body?
Is there a measure of attention in the clarity with which I can perceive my normally separated energies?
Something different takes place when attention is sensed more evenly throughout my physical length.
I begin to receive direct impressions of my life.
With a strong attention, a stronger sense of myself contained within the shape of my body, I recognise the possibility to open.
— Rael Bethlehem
Surfing on the crest of attention
At its height
All vigilance needed not to fall
My board a single note
A thread that joins the present moment
And keeps me lightly here
Until silently and invisibly gone.
This patient, warm creature
Coming nearly into being
Waits for my return.
— Antonia Brown
The Humpty Dumpty of my being.
That which connects the external with the internal.
The Nile of my soul.
That which allows what is dark to be light.
That which separates dreams, imagination from the real.
That which can’t be grasped, but can be opened to.
Attention—that allows the gift of gifts: a return to myself.
The oasis of our inner desert.
The bringer of life.
The connector of the difference between life and death.
That which enables me to escape from the Yezidis’ Circle.
That which allows me to listen, to see, to experience—to follow the flight
of a finch chasing aphids...
The gift, the force that is endlessly wasted.
— Edward Collins
To be attentive is to be under a unifying influence; intention and functioning are brought together.
And then I recognise the impression of myself being attentive—I feel it.
Amazingly, I can also receive an impression of myself being inattentive, of my attention being pulled somewhere.
The attention which gets pulled here and there can itself be included within the view of a finer, unifying attention.
— Felix Dux
A gentle call from the breath, to follow...
soles of the feet on the floor, the weight on the chair,
top of the head, back of the head,
Tension around eyes
included and released.
Following breath, and breath,
and the back of head appears and joins
and the back of neck and shoulders
and a back,
Tension in chest
included and released.
Preparing the ground
for the visitation of an energy
in an impulse
from the top of the head.
Washing the body with life through breath.
Completely filling their place in this moment,
But there is a pull, a hunger
to be warmed by this light.
Fumbling for a way back
through the body,
tensions are guideposts
back to the feet.
Back to the breath.
A sensitive, burning, precarious balance,
moment by moment,
taken, found, seeking to join,
to be One with others, with all.
And the gift—
the aching Stretch
Seeing functions and not being them.
Being held in light / love.
and gratitude beyond my capacity.
— Vergine Eayrs
In a group recently my efforts for attention fail.
The inner talking is as loud and negative as ever, and my body is racked with tension.
Seeing this I ask myself to be inattentive.
All of a sudden I am filled with attention, the talking and tension fall away.
— Dan Graham
“Only super efforts count,” reports Ouspensky, but Mr. Gurdjieff doesn’t use that term, he talks instead of ‘being’ efforts.
The effort of being is to maintain a relationship between all three brain-centres, so that a precise ‘special’ condition is created, which allows the material energies proper to each centre to find their appropriate places and, in turn, relate to each other; then mingle and proceed in their purposeful evolutions and involutions, harmoniously.
Where does attention come into this? What is it? What role does it play?
Man is a three-brained being. Man is a three-storied factory.
The head brain is situated in the top storey of the factory, the moving centre is in the lower, the emotional centre is in the middle.
Two other higher centres are fully formed.
We can only work on the three lower centres.
Our duty, our being effort—in order to pay for our arising—is to bring these three centres together so that there can be a whole, unified, balanced being. Only that being can learn the purpose and meaning of our existence.
Something ‘sub’ conscious hears a higher ‘voice’ calling: the calling of a ‘self’ of a different magnitude...
In the moment of hearing that call, attention can play a role. If I’m quick enough ‘I’ can move that attention from the top storey to the bottom storey, and bring about a connection with my body. Attention now blends with sensation (which is always there ready to meet it), spreading all over my organic body, bringing life. And, from there, nerve nodes are activated which connect to the solar plexus, thus engendering the feeling of presence. Once all three centres are conjoined ‘I’ appears, risen from my sub-conscious: a permeable multi-dimensional ‘being’ that operates between an above and a below.
By this swift movement of attention, the descending order of energy is (momentarily) reversed: moon to earth to sun and beyond...
But ‘the centre cannot hold,’ the attention falters and I fall under the force of the other influence. ‘I’ becomes ‘it’—a mob. The relationship dissipates, and everything drifts towards dispersal... This is part of a natural (lawful) energy exchange process, akin to breathing, but humans have the possibility of participating actively in it, accumulating by-products for the growth of their being. The key to renewing relationship is the ‘use’ of attention.
— Ben Haggarty
It, but I shall say I, sits from habit and dreams.
Slowly purpose occurs to me, but I remain fuzzy.
I try an exercise—it is too demanding.
Nevertheless, something begins to gather.
Repeated efforts reveal energy in form, areas of tension, breathing and movements.
Repeatedly I slip into dream.
Can I see my going?
I stay true to this question, and I look for a still mind. I wait, longing to be found by a higher attention—only to find that I am dreaming again; starting again.
Sometimes I am taken by surprise and a profound silence descends.
I am home.
— Christopher Killick
What can I write about attention? Something real from my experience, not just a regurgitation of something I have read and tried to understand.
I have sat and thought for some time; my thoughts have led me to my experience in movements. The demand is very great. My attention is called on to both let go and arrive. To appear and disappear: three centres in collaboration in action. Awareness inside of tensions relaxing; vigilance to this at all times. Attention on the outer form and attention towards an inner stillness—a look out and a look in. I begin to have a sense of a feeling of a central axis in me.
Attention on what level? And where is it coming from? If I lose this attention, which is becoming finer and stronger—if I lose it for a split second I am lost. If I continue in this way with this vigilance then mysterious things take place: my attention expands out. I become sensitive to the people next to me and in front and behind. My attention seems to grow and expand. I enter a wave of another attention quite different to this coarser version I have been struggling to stay with. An attention on me, on us. We are swimming in this. An attention on us appearing in us like vast space, opening. In movement.
Folding a shirt.
Taking care, a deep quiet appears.
From love, love appears, vibrating around me, in me.
Three forces brought into the picture.
Is this conscious work attention?
Is it calling attention?
In my morning preparation I call on my attention. I wish to activate it. It is weak. It is everywhere else. My brain is wild with associations. What do I call on? My mind is not able alone to master this new direction I am seeking. I remember to go towards the body. Starting in the mind, directing my attention to my limbs, to my disparate parts: head, spine, solar plexus. Bring sensation here. My mind is still leading. I am lost. I wonder... If attention is love can I love my arm? A shift instantly to another centre, a feeling, another impulse. My feeling opens and expansion is offered. Can I yield and soften? Can I for a moment become more permeable, breathing with this other attention which seems to have a look on me? Fleetingly.
Attention from me: coarse. Attention on me: fine.
— Lucy Koralek
To find attention
like going from zero to one
I have to be lost
to be able to find
which does not exist
before it is found.
— Peter Larsen
What is attention? In all honesty I don’t know.
The mere question demands a direction of mind, a direction of attention, but very soon I find that I am drifting off, that I don’t have enough attention to hold my attention!
In the pursuit of attention I have to acknowledge my immediate limitations. In standing in front of myself as I am, as honestly as possible, I am being reshuffled. But this will not happen without a finer attention, a descent upon me of a presence, or an inclusion in presence.
This awareness of a finer vibration in me is called differently by me, depending on which gravity center in me I am referring to: in the body I can call it sensing; the opening of the feeling center is an opening to the world around me: a caring for a deeper feeling for other beings, even love. (I could call it conscience). And in the thinking, more clarity. All in all it could be called self-remembering.
Every time this finer attention enters, it leaves a trace, a substance, a material to build its home. Now.
There is a call: attention is calling all the time. I need to open to it, all the time. It is me and not me at the same time. I must let myself be dwindled away under a gentle look, in order to be embraced by myself, to swim in attention.
I have a strong feeling of not being able to meet my duty given by this fine presence ever feeding me, and us. There is a gentle sadness and sorrow...
— Per Linderoth
To be present this moment in my being.
I sense my body, aware of how I am now.
I allow myself to open up to a higher influence.
An expansion within and a letting go.
Trusting in an unknown.
— Dawn Oei
Convinced that it is stuck,
A subtle movement shows that I am not.
— Thomas Paine
To begin to experience my wholeness I must be able to observe my attention where it gets caught, always returning into a well-worn groove. I must be able to observe what insignificant fixations draw my thoughts upwards away from a sensation of my body.
To be beside that, to feel that place in me from where it is seen as different, takes in itself great attention.
— Frank Pudney
If attention is a substance, what is it?
Babies are instinctively attentive and their wonder at the world is tangible. We are drawn close in, as by a magnet, but how comfortable is it to be met by such an unwavering stare?
What can I do to keep rekindling the wish to persist in trying to sense the chaotic parts inside me by paying attention to them? One part of me, quieter and less charismatic than most of my manifestations, is interested in that.
Why does the less intelligent part reign? Could magnetism, an alignment of forces, be the result of those kinds of effort?
Can I regain something lost?
— Natalya Ribeaux
How long was I away today?
Caught in the endless pull of the external,
Who was it that said “I” in my place,
Assuming temporary ownership of my body?
All the time I was gone, I still breathed.
My heart still beat.
But with no-one to bear witness to this miracle,
This life that continues without me
Runs its course according to the universal;
Passes like a sigh,
Invites me to be present,
Calls like a bird in the sky.
How will I respond to the call?
Will I carry on blind?
Or will I turn inwards,
My one true experience?
— Greg Scott
I can pay attention in an ordinary way—
But it is necessary to be awake for real attention ...to be ...
In my being or soul.
I reach a stillness—I try to open—I am patient—I let go more,
I take my attention around my body, my limbs.
I am still—I am patient—I notice my breathing.
But the attention is weak and fickle, and easily diverted.
I begin to notice my habits, my posture, my emotions, my moods.
By trying to develop my attention I am starting to know myself.
I feel drawn to the energy that comes with the Will of Attention—
Or remembering myself—of nourishing my soul.
— Caroline Snow
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|Copyright © 2013 Gurdjieff Electronic Publishing|
Featured: Fall 2013 Issue, Vol. XII (1)
Revision: November 1, 2013
1 René Daumal, Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidian Adventures in Mountain Climbing, translated by Roger Shattuck, Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1986.