Often it is helpful to go slowly: to not rush to conclusions, and to be aware of the many threads that are present in thought. Attention is a way of asking: what is showing up? What is here?
For most of us, what shows up is some variation on “our” lives. The first-person subjective lens naturally attends our experience and helps to organize it. Nobody is immune to this; nobody needs to be immune. It is just there.
It is helpful to notice this without rushing to explain or define or qualify it. Noticing it is a way of letting it be: of just residing in the sense of “I am.”
We might attend this “noticing” in the spirit of sitting on a beach or the back porch: grateful, aware, relaxed, in no hurry.
We might notice the subtle impulse to be right about experience (it reflects brain-based reticular activating systems), or to reach some conclusion about experience (I am not a body), or discover some spiritual first cause for experience (God).
What is interesting is not so much those options in and of themselves but rather their appearance and what underlies them: the impulse to conclude, and to conclude rightly.
Indeed, the assumption that is possible to conclude, and to conclude rightly.
The suggestion is simply to see this – the impulse and assumption – and to see what happens when we sort of hold them up to the light without acceding to their demands. They are very demanding: believe me! Make use of me! Only me!
And so forth.
What we are doing now is neither accepting nor rejecting them but just noticing them. We deliberately avoid conclusion in favor of just giving attention. What is showing up? What is here?
There is a tendency to fragment, and then to be concerned about the truth of just a little part of the whole. And this is but a way of avoiding, or looking away from the whole, to what you think you might be better able to understand (T-16.II.2;1-2).
It might be noticed that experience is not contingent on understanding, even though understanding is sometimes a nice aspect of experience. However, just as I don’t need to understand the science behind stars in order to behold them in wonder and joy, I don’t need to understand or otherwise manage consciousness right in order to be conscious.
A better and far more helpful way to think or miracles is this: You do not understand them, either in part or in whole. Yet they have been done through you. Therefore your understanding cannot be necessary (T-16.II.2:4-6).
In a sense, this is what it means to say that we are already awake: nothing has to happen in order for us to be awake. Awakeness, so to speak, is already a fact. It is here: it is this.
[I]t is impossible to accomplish what you do not understand. And so there must be Something in you that does understand (T-16.II.2:7-8).
Part of “this” – this Something in us that does understand – includes learning about it, inquiring into it, wanting to share it, and so forth. It includes sometimes just chilling out with it, so that we can visit the neighbors, bake cookies with the kids, watch television, do the dishes. It includes forgetting or losing it, missing it, searching for it, finding it.
And sometimes part of “this” is feeling deeply and wholly unified – not separate
from anyone or anything.
It’s nice when that sense of wholeness is present but it’s still just a passing experience, still just a feeling. It’s no better or worse than a headache or a traffic ticket or a bowl of fresh raspberries.
Again, the inclination to conclude – to decide this is what the self is, this is what life is, this is what God is, this is how to know God and so forth – has a tendency to overwhelm our present experience, which is always all there really is.
Simply giving attention to what is showing up allows us to sense the way in which “the whole” is just another concept that shows up, that “being right” or “being correct” are just more concepts that show up. Even “God” – sacred to many of us – is just a word, just an idea, just a concept.
So we are looking at all that, and it is never not appearing, never not showing up, and maybe what begins to happen in that we relax with respect to the impulse to figure it out, to solve it, to put a pin in it. Fortunately, there’ s no hurry and it can’t really be done wrong.