We become attentive when we see something outside of ourselves that causes us wonder. Attentiveness requires that our normal routine and unquestioned approach to life be set aside for us to see something new or see things with new eyes. Attentiveness is not a fragmented, scattered or distracted consciousness but neither is it a manic drivenness to achieve focus or a monolithic glassy-eyed stare. It requires an inner presence and calm in which the attention is centered yet open. We become attentive when our hearts are touched or warmed by an image or an event and we allow ourselves to rest in the giftedness of life. We must trust a source beyond our ego in order to be truly attentive to the moment.
What Are We To Attend To?
First and foremost the focus of our attention must be to what is there. This requires an honesty and commitment to truth that involves a sacrifice of our automatic defenses. We must see our lives as they are. So often we look with either judgment or blindness at our lives. It is hard to just observe. We have to look past the shame, inflation, and desire that so often overwhelm us. In order to transcend these influences a deep dependence on grace is required. We must come to know we are loved at a depth level that frees us from being mired in emotional overreactions.
When we do get past all the blocks to seeing what's there, what do we see? We see our poverty. Emptiness is hard to look at. We do all kinds of things to avoid seeing our emptiness. It takes a lot of faith and trust to sit with the weight of emptiness. However, if we sit with the emptiness long enough we are able to see the abundance of our lives.
Blocks To Listening
But often all we can hear is the clamouring of the descriptive
or false self. "Notice Me" is the mantra of the false self and living
out of this energy will always distract us. Personal image, external status-related
descriptions blind us from who we are in God. When we strip away these
false descriptors we are left with our soul as loved by God. We are freed
from attempting to earn God's favour or create our own worth. When we
live from our true selves-in-God our consciousness becomes expansive and
we are able to be truly attentive. True attentiveness is not a skill to
be acquired but a gift to be received when we live in the depth of Grace
and the abundance of God. Attending to the emptiness of the false self
and the abundance of the unearned gift of the true self allows us to be
attentive to a much broader spectrum of reality, the Realm of God no less.
Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that
it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement
and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart
of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and
life itself is grace.
- Fredrick Buechner
Simplicity: Prerequisite to Attentiveness
To be simple is to forget about oneself. The self is nothing
more than the set of illusions it has about itself. Narcissism is not
a by-product of the ego but its principle.
- Andre Comte-Sponville