The Blacksmith- A Traditional Story

There was a Sage called Dattatreya who in the course of his travels at one time was standing near a blacksmith’s shop. A marriage procession with lots of people in their glorious dresses passed by, making plenty of noise. The blacksmith was engaged in making an arrow and did not look up at this procession. Dattatreya was surprised and asked him about the marriage procession. The arrow maker said he was not aware of any such procession and said he was pointing and sharpening an arrow. He was absorbed and united in his work so that the outer world ceased to exist for him at that time. His whole attention was directed to the sharp point of the arrow he was making.

Attention

An excerpt from The Blind In Society by Jacques  Lusseyran

“Because of my blindness, I had developed a new faculty. Strictly speaking, all men have it, but almost all forget to use it. That faculty is attention. In order to live without eyes it is necessary to be very attentive, to remain hour after hour in a state of wakefulness, of receptiveness and activity. Indeed, attention is not simply a virtue of intelligence or the result of education, and something one can easily do without. It is a state of being. It is a state without which we shall never be able to perfect ourselves. In its truest sense, it is the listening post of the universe.

Attending to the Present Moment

Life is in the Present Moment

There are two dimensions to our awareness of life, one is in recalling times past and dreaming about times to come; the other is to be connected to what is. Here. Now. Those we consider wise are somehow more observant and in-tune with the situations of life, awake to the present needs. What do we attend to most of the time?

Typically we spend much of our time re-enacting the past or rehearsing for the future that we miss the opportunity to connect with the present and thereby diminish the depth of our lives. If we can train our attention to be present, we can return to past experiences and plan for the future as the needs of the moment require. As we attend to the present moment we deepen and enrich our connection with the vibrancy of life around us.

Awareness and Attention

Being awake, living in the present is very much to do with attention. This is a remarkable power, which is available to everyone and anyone. Where there is a strong power of attention, it is of great benefit not only in dealing with every day worldly matters, but also in connecting with the higher levels of awareness.

The following states of attention can be useful categories to consider:

Scattered: The attention is open wide to stimulus, but is acting habitually with little awareness, scattered by interruptions. A day of unfinished tasks, distracted, pushed around. We find life is hectic and unproductive. We end the day with a stack of half finished jobs left over to carry on tomorrow. In extreme cases this can cause stress and anxiety.

Captured: The attention is focused obsessively on an idea or task, oblivious of the world around us. In this little world we cannot respond to emerging needs.  We may even act hurtfully to those in our path by being unaware or dismissive.

Centred: Similar to the captured state, the attention is focused on a single task, but in terms of awareness it is worlds apart. The attention is not locked into obsession, but neither is it distracted- it is unifying, bringing related knowledge to bear intelligently. It is incredibly efficient and is often described by sports people as a state of flow.

Open: The attention is wide and receptive to the wholeness of the present moment. practising the exercise or the pause can bring the attention into this state, allowing us to rest in the moment and watch the world go by. This state is full of potential.

Do not dwell in the past, nor dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.                                                                                                                                                                                            

Buddha

To me, the very essence of education is the concentration of the mind, not collection of facts. If I had to do my education once again, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then, with the perfect instrument, collect facts at will.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Vivekananda, from Education

*tbc