Mary and Christ Child: icon painting by Chantal Heinegg
Christmas eve. And thoughts are on the Lord, across the planet.
There's a great deal of discussion about having an attention.
But what is attention? What I think is attention is not attention; everything I think is always my own thinking, not a real attention. When I try to think about attention, already, I don't have it, because attention is not ever found in the thinking mind where words arise.
In fact, every conceptualization I have of what attention is, and how I should get it or have it, already makes a mistake, because I think attention somehow belongs to me. In reality, there is only one attention, and that attention is the attention of the Lord.
There are many levels of attention, but each one of them emanates from Grace, begins in Grace, and ends in it. The attention that begins in ego and belongs to my worldly self is only good for just so much, and it is not much good for inner work. The best it can do is bring me up to the threshold of a place where something different could happen; and at that point, what I call my own attention must be entirely abandoned, because from that threshold on, it is useless.
I have to admit to myself that I don't know what attention is, and go on a journey within myself to explore what I am, and to seek for it. Only in the state of knowing nothing do I begin to know anything about attention.
If what I call Being — which is, generally speaking, being, lower case, an illusory state attached to the world — drops off, and ceases to be, something different takes place. Only from an emptiness that does not presume to have any Being can Being emanate. This is a different world from the world I know; and every piece of it I try to take as my own disappears as I grasp it.
In a certain sense, the floor must be swept clean; everything that poses for attention must go into the dustbin. Only if all of this debris is emptied can a space be made which might allow something new to enter; and even then, it doesn't do so at my command. Despite what all the teachings say, it can't be exercised into me; it can't be demanded. My only role is to issue a call, in the hopes that I will be heard, and that Grace may arise.
When the Lord arrives, He does not have discussions about attention. There is no question or debate; no intellectual process touches that which is intact. It arrives intact; it departs intact. In every instance, it is untouched, whether by the world or myself. If I touch it, what is damaged is my respect, not that which emanates from the Lord. It is invulnerable; but my attitude is not, and to the extent I damage it, I become unworthy to receive.
These higher properties I seek to come into relationship with do not belong to a man or woman, but can only be expressed through them. Yet every discussion about them inadvertently sounds like one can have them and own them. This is only through my own ignorance; real understanding knows that it does not begin or end in me.
Perhaps this is why I have a bit of an aversion to engaging in discussions about attention, and exhortations to get it or have it in one way or another. I can spend the rest of my life thinking I am going to grab God by the hair and drag him back to my cave; that's caveman thinking, all right, and that is where I am most of the time.
There is a need to do more than sit around the fire and scrawl noble pictures of mighty animals on the cave wall.
There is a moment when one has to come out into the light.
May your soul be filled with light.