Attention and Spiritual Healing

Correction is a natural function of attention. That is, when we give attention to our living – and to the world in which it is lived, and the others with whom it is lived – to the extent that that living is unloving, it will naturally realign itself with love. That is because the one who attends is love (or God, or Spirit, or LovingKindness, or . . . ) and cannot help but bring itself forth.

By attention I mean the literal act of attending to our lives, of noticing what is going on in the whole rich vivid raveling tapestry of it. It is helpful to note that attention runs on its own but it is also responsive. We are always attending our living, but we can do so intentionally.

I say “give” attention, which is a deliberate distinction from “pay” attention. When we pay, we lose something. When we pay, we are in a mode of transacting. The focus is on getting, on taking. But when we give, we are making a gift, which arises out of love because it is not asking for anything in return. We didn’t invent attention so it is in that sense “a gift” to us. Giving it strengthens it in us. There is no loss involved. This is reminiscent of what A Course in Miracles calls the first lesson of the Holy Spirit: “to have, give all to all” (T-6.V.A.5:13).

So when we “give attention to our living” we exclude nothing. We do not ask what appears to be other than what it appears as. We are not actively trying to change it. If what shows up is our selfishness and dishonesty, then okay. If what shows up is hunger and cruelty, then okay.

Some people on reading or hearing this will object. If dishonesty shows up, then we have to become honest. If hunger shows up, then we have to bake bread and make a table for myself and others. That’s what we want from our brothers and sisters – why would we offer them less?

But I am saying that if we attend, if we give attention, then correction – which is healing – will arise naturally, and we will not have to “do” anything. It is done for us, in the same way we do not make flowers grow or birds sing or hearts beat.

It is very hard to do nothing in this way. It is very hard to sit quietly with the urge to solve problems and heal the world and become better people and simply let it pass. In fact, most of us cannot do this and so methods and models show up to help us. We can’t let go, but we can let God handle things.

In this way, images and symbols like Jesus or God (or Mary or Buddha or . . . ) are temporarily helpful. We can say “God is the strength in which I trust” (W-pI.75) and not insert our own doing into the undoing – the healing – going on all around us.

God is your safety in every circumstance. His Voice speaks for Him in all situations and in every aspect of all situations, telling you exactly what to do to call upon His strength and His protection. There are no exceptions because God has no exceptions (W-pI.75.3:1-3).

So when our attention reveals something unpleasant – be it external or internal or both – we resist the urge to ignore or deny or amend it by asking God (or love or Jesus or . . . ) to handle the situation for us. “He leadeth me and knows the way, which I know not” (W-14.III.19:2). Not unsurprisingly, we experience ourselves as led.

It is important to realize that we don’t know what is needed. But it is equally important to realize that we can learn what is needed. When this distinction is clear, we stop trying to solve problems on our own, with our own learning, and instead look for guidance. We look for a teacher or helper who knows better than we do.

What A Course in Miracles teaches us is that this teacher is not apart from us. The method is inherent in us already. We don’t have to pay any tuition or kneel in homage or make any sacrifice whatsoever. We simply have to notice what is already given, what is already present. This noticing is not complicated at all but our resistance to it is nontrivial so it can be experienced as difficult in the extreme. But we cannot eliminate sight or the light in which sight is enacted by squeezing our eyes shut. Our resistance is great, but love is greater.

Thus my original point: all we need to do is give attention to our living, and correction will happen of its own accord, because that which is attending is love itself, and so naturally brings everything into loving alignment. We don’t have to understand this; we simply have to be willing – to literally the tiniest degree – to learn it.

Be very still an instant . . . The old will fall away before the new, without your opposition or intent. There will be no attack upon the things that you thought were precious and in need of care. There will be no assault upon your wish to hear a call that never has been made. Nothing will hurt you in this holy place, to which you come to listen silently and learn the truth of what you really want (T-31.II.8:1, 3-6).

When we accept this, and devote ourselves to it, our living changes and love is brought forth in flooding tides. As problems appear to arise, answers arise with them. Confusion subsides; the way becomes us.

Of course, there is always more to talk about. What attends if not my own self? How can God be both an “ideal” and “real?” And so forth. I am not immune to curiosity; indeed, scholarship – posing questions, articulating answers – is intimately conjoined to my spiritual practice. Yet learning is useless if it cannot be brought into application. As Tara Singh said in Love Holds No Grievances: The Ending of Attack, “we already know too much and apply too little” (19). Indeed.

Attention reveals Love because attention is a function of Love, and correction – or healing, which is to say, the revelation of love – is a function of attention. When we give attention – when we make a gift of what we were given in creation – we are fully and efficiently reminded of the Love in which all conflict, and the self that perpetuates all conflict, are dissolved.

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