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Fwd: Listening Attention Commentary, by Bob Fergeson

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  • Michael Read <maread@taosnet.com>
    ... This commentary is about what I call the Listening Attention, a meditation technique, if you will, which I ve found to be a gateway to our Inner Self.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2003
      --- In AdvaitaToZen@yahoogroups.com, Jan Sultan <swork@m...> wrote:
      This commentary is about what I call the "Listening Attention," a
      meditation technique, if you will, which I've found to be a gateway
      to our Inner Self. The poet John Davis once said he felt the highest
      meditation was "listening with the eyes." This is a good starting
      definition. Another would be to look with attention, but without
      interpretation: to listen, the attention turned both inward and
      outward at the same time, with no thought or expectation. No
      expectation, judging or defining; no thought, no mind. This combined
      attention uses both the inner ear and eye and is turned towards the
      inner heart and the outer world simultaneously. It is passive in that
      it does not project an image or thought; it is active for the same
      reason, in that it is a pure attention, an active not-doing. There is
      no sense of an 'I' involved, for that would mean the springing forth
      of an image, which the attention would become identified with. It
      does not entail a motionless, inert body, for it can be found while
      engaging in activity.

      Before talking about how to find this portal to the Inner Self, let's
      first explore why it would be a worthwhile endeavor. First, I'd like
      to clarify that this is not a technique for adding
      another 'spiritual' behavior to our list. We do not need to put
      another head on top of the one we already have, but need to somehow
      get back to a truer state we have lost through years of conditioning.
      In other words, we do not need another form of hypnosis or new way to
      put ourselves further to sleep, but to find how to become un-
      hypnotized, more awake. I have to assume if you've come this far that
      you have reasons for engaging in spiritual work. Enough time spent
      digging through the patterns and habits of the mind will eventually
      lead one to the unflattering realization that one is mechanical, a
      robot. I like to call this creature we find ourselves to be, a
      SMAARP, a Self-Maintaining Accidental Associative Reaction Pattern.
      Most of us start this journey to self-discovery convinced we are
      smart SMAARPs, and it can take quite a few blows to our proverbial
      fat heads before we realize we are mechanical, that the mind can
      never solve the problem of self-definition by itself. We need help.
      The listening attention is a door to going within, to re-connecting
      with our inner man, to that part of us which Knows. Once we are
      convinced of our robotic nature, we may come to see the value of
      connecting once again with the intelligence that created us.

      The silent passage to the inner world is always with us, it does not
      need to be formed, just found, but we may need years of preparation
      to see it. A great deal of self-analysis, 'work on one-self,' is
      usually needed in order to get beyond the ego and its belief that the
      mind and worded thoughts will lead us to the Real. A lifetime of
      learned behaviors, emotional blocks, fears, self-doubts, and wishful
      thinking need to be cleared away. We must reach a point where we can
      slip behind our compensatory thinking patterns long enough to let
      something real get through. All repressed emotional material and
      debilitating drains on our energy must be dealt with, too. We will
      need all our strength to face the unknown, alone and unarmed.

      There will be much resistance to the attempt to go within. Our
      physical needs must be met, giving us the thought that time
      spent "doing nothing but listening" to be sheer folly. The need for
      distraction in social endeavors, TV, movies, and other forms of
      feeding the head, will need to be dealt with. Our family and friends
      will most likely not share the value we place on finding a connection
      to the Inner Self, as it does not bring an immediate material reward
      and is not conducive to maintaining whatever psychological dramas
      might be in place.

      Perhaps the most effective resistance to our inner journey will not
      come from outside, through society or family, but from our own fear
      of the unknown. We may find we are both unwilling to let go of our
      old way of being and not willing to take a chance on something new.
      For most of us, some form of suffering or trauma is necessary before
      we will trust our own inner guidance. Fear can block us at every
      turn, until we take our meaning from within, from the present, and
      release our mental hold on the projected past or imagined future.

      These struggles of self-discovery are also necessary to find the
      right individual method for the listening attention. I found that
      moving about, through hiking and cross country skiing, to be the best
      way for me. I could not sit still long enough to bring about the
      inner relaxation needed, or else I would simply fall asleep. I know
      of one man who would drive, spending hours behind the wheel of his
      car because it would give his outer mind and body just enough to do
      to allow his inner self the freedom to surface. If sitting in a chair
      will work, great, it would sure save a lot of time and gas. Knowing
      what body type and disposition we have is a great help in opening the

      A good example of how this can happen was during one winter as I was
      struggling to improve my cross-country skiing technique. I was caught
      between the technical advice given by instructor friends and the
      feeling that I knew what to do if I would just listen to the inner
      voice instead. I finally decided to go with my instincts, and my
      skiing quickly reached a new level of freedom and skill. Affirmation
      was quick in coming, for one day as I was thumbing through a skiing
      magazine, I noticed an article by a coach on what techniques the
      fastest skiers used. The system he described was exactly the one I
      had found, and had been discovered by his athletes in much the same
      way. While this may hardly seem a momentous step in self-discovery,
      it gave the clue that trusting my own intuition and inner guidance
      was a good idea, and that rote learning through mimicking others
      would not bring me any closer to learning to go within. Every one
      must find his own portal into the listening attention through his own
      experience and faith.

      From the Mystic Missal [via January TAT forum]
      --- End forwarded message ---
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