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Internal Attention

I had a meeting with two gentlemen some weeks ago. After the discussion on the initial planned topics, the flow swayed towards meditation and spirituality.

I offered my other name card, sharing the work that I do. They asked me, “How often do you meditate?” I smiled and said, “often enough, even now as I speak to you.”

One of them laughed and another, seemed puzzled. And I could relate to that if my guess on their perception of what meditation was accurate. One of them later shared that he meditates as well and their form of meditation is in form of prayers at a temple, that is, if I heard it accurately.

I smiled. I shared with him, what I am seeming practicing is one form of what is perceived as meditation. He invited me to share more. I shared further that we are observing all the time. We are always watching something except that, more often than not, it is something out there that we are observing, watching or questioning about, rather than our own inner experience relating to what we are apparently observing, watching. I gave him an example – he is people watching, and he sees a man throws rubbish on the floor, and he might feel repelled by that sight and judgment comes to be. He might talk to himself about it, or even to another. And I pointed out, that the attention is usually given to what is right or wrong out there, rather than our own experience in relating to the man who threw the rubbish. He laughed, as if there was some truth in it. Well, there is a lot of truth in it.

This brings me back to a memory where I was in a car ride with a friend quite some time ago and he pointed out his curiosity on a dented divider which in his memory was not there a few days ago. He openly shared his query if there was an accident and asked if I noticed the difference between the divider that day and a few days ago. My answer was I don’t know. He seemed puzzled and asked how could I not know since I have been driving along the same road for the past few days. I pondered a moment on that and shared with him that it was none of my business, or perhaps more true, out of my conscious awareness. To put it another way, because it was out of my conscious awareness, it was none of my business. Feeling in the mood to say more, which I normally do when I am with this particular friend for some strange reason, I shared with him that more often than not, there isn’t much interest or attention on the outer world. I don’t read the newspapers, or listen to the radio for world news or latest fad. To some, I may even sound ignorant and dumb. And perhaps I am. But I don’t really care. Because I have noticed that the experience that arises in me constantly is more real than what is happening out there, and if what is happening out there is beyond my control and has little of my personal interest, there is really not much out there for me, except what is in here.

My friend then commented that if that is the case, how could I be aware of what is happening around me. I shared with him that if it is meant for me to know, or to be aware of it, it will be made known to me. It is not like I am totally oblivious to the world. I have just arrived at a state where if it concerns me, it will be made known to me or find its way to my attention. I gave him an example. Say, I am driving along this road, and a tree fell on the side of the road and is not an obstacle to me or to anyone and there is no thought about it, it is none of my business. The most sane thing to do is actually to continue doing what I am doing, that is, to drive; unless I feel like doing otherwise. But if the tree has fallen right on the path of the road, being an obstacle for me and others to further our journey, that would and will catch my attention (obviously and inevitably) and I would have to get down from the car and decide what I would like to do about that. But that too, ought not to take away my attention or observation of my own inner world, except to extend that attention and awareness to a seeming outside situation that I have got to deal with. It has become my business so to speak, because it has been made known to be, come ‘into’ my awareness, found itself to my attention – whatever you want to call it. So since it is that, then I become moved to do something about it if I can, or not. Depending on what is called upon.

It was the same thing when the new gentlemen asked my thoughts on the US Banks-whatever-incident that happened a few years ago when I shared that I was in the job of an investment banker before. I smiled and answered, “I don’t know”. He laughed and asked how I could not know. Well, my reply to him was that I loved my job and I was doing what I loved to do and it didn’t require me to know what was happening to the US Banks but to get the damn deal that I was working on to its fullest potential. That was all that mattered to me, at least at that time. And I seemed to do a good job then.  I could tell because my bosses loved me. It was a reflection of my own love and joy for the work I was doing. Well, I didn’t know then, but I know now. And that is all that matters.

Some who would read this article may have an inclination towards a kind of selfishness or narcissistic behavior going on. Yet, it is actually a lot more than that. It is not about being self-sufficiency, self-contained or even self-love for we can’t really do that kind of things to ourselves, otherwise it is mimicking an effect that we want and that takes us far further than what is actually true. Yet the doorway to that is right here and not out there.

It is common that attention is constantly outside pondering what is going on there rather than in here where the churning of experience is more real. But yet that too, is untrue as, if the noticing has taken place to notice that the pondering is targeted towards something out there than in here, a kind of noticing is already happening inwardly.

Now, one may ask, so what if I notice? Well, that is when we can finally begin.

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