School Talk 11 - Attention
We are going to talk about attention. If you pay attention, it is the beginning of truly being conscious. Ordinarily we are distracted rather than attentive. Something comes along—somebody shoots a gun, and we look to see what happened, or tires squeal on the pavement and we look. That is not attention, that’s only reaction to a stimuli.
Attention is when one decides to make a little point of awareness in self. It is the beginning of building what some people have called a soul, or fully integrating all parts of oneself into one unit. So attention is the deliberate effort to pay particular attention to anything and everything around, and it must start with our being free to pay attention without any condemnation or justification.
In other words, without finding fault or approving, or anything else. So we could look out and say “there is a sunset, and I enjoy it. It, to me, is very pretty.” Or we could say “there is a thunderstorm” Or maybe you’re a person doesn’t like thunderstorms, but it would not be that the thunderstorm is either good or bad, or what-have-you—there is no judgment of it; it is just a statement.
Then the attention begins to be able to pay attention to “what’s going on” inside of one’s self. Now, first there is the point of awareness (or the attention’s center), which is the observer, and the rest of us would be the observed.
One might observe how the body is behaving. You might observe how you walk, how you’re breathing, what kind of thoughts are going on in the head, and without saying you’re doing them, you just watch them.
That’s traffic running through the brain.
There’s always something going on in there and sometimes the traffic is high speed and sometimes it’s slow speed; but whatever it is, you can usually slow it down if you want to. Most often it doesn’t make a lot of difference, but if it’s making you jumpy, you can deliberately slow it down with attention taking over.
So first there is the observer and then the observed. The observer is the point of awareness and it begins to pay attention to everything else that’s going on in the self—this could be physical, mental or emotional, or whatever. One could pay attention to it--again without condemning or justifying it--without approving or disapproving. It’s simply that this is what’s going on. I have an itch on my left elbow and I’m thinking of killing so and so because she ignored me yesterday. It’s all the same difference, because it’s something that’s merely going on and one can pay attention to it. When we get so we can pay attention to it, gradually all that we are paying attention to becomes a part of the center, or point of awareness in the self and it grows.
So eventually, the observe and the observed become one.
At that time you are fully in charge of whatever is going on inside, or usually outside the body and the mind and the emotions, etc. You are fully in charge. So to be in charge, one starts simply today with being a point of awareness and as that point of awareness is exercised, it grows. As it grows and breaks over, where once you observed that there is an itch on the elbow and an urge to kill somebody on the inside, you gradually take charge of that and the urge to kill is not there—it doesn’t need to be because it wasn’t you in the first place.
It was a “not I”, and the more the awareness pays attention to what the “not i’s” are doing, the larger the awareness becomes and the weaker the smaller the not i’s become because they are now observed and the not I, of course, only works in darkness. It’s a demon and must have darkness in order to function well. I would imagine that in the last few weeks you have heard them holler quite loudly—isn’t that right? They say you’re going to die and you’ve had all kinds of this, and 1001 difficulties and you’ll never come out of it. You know—the whole works—you’ll never get over this and so on and on. All because they want to be in charge. But if the point of awareness observes this and sees what’s going on, then the point of awareness takes over and you can be in charge instead of being a victim of what’s going on.
Most people, when we talk with them, tell me in great detail how they are a victim of one sort or another. As most of you know who stay around here, the phone rings rather a lot and somebody wants to talk on the other end from somewhere across the country, and what I hear is that they’re a victim of something or other. And, of course, my effort is to get them to see they’re not a victim—that’s the one thing I refuse to agree with—that anyone is a victim. I try to get them to take charge of it, and if they make any effort to begin to be consciously seeing this thing as a not I, the not I becomes weaker and weaker and can finally totally disappear and all that’s left is the awareness. So if we wanted to be somewhat accurate in describing ourselves, we are each a point of awareness in a big pool of Life somewhere. There is life always around us and we have one particular viewpoint—we are a center of awareness or a center of life’s function in a great big pool of Life.
Now, if we’re not paying attention to what’s going on, we’re not even that—we are merely a reactive mechanism in a pool of Life. You can determine the people who have little or no use of the point of awareness. We can produce almost any emotion, or reaction in that person. You can say certain things to them and they are very nice. You say another thing to them and they become vicious. You can almost predict that. One time I drew a picture on the board of something like a human being, but it was an android; and it had a big box on it with buttons on it and you could push a given button and get a certain reaction from it. Well, all of us have these buttons hanging around if we are not very aware, and anyone who is in the mood to, can intentionally, or accidentally walk up and push a button and you’ll react a certain way.
A man called the other day and said that he had been doing without emotions for several days. He had gotten the tape from us about not being able to afford emotions, you know, that he didn’t have to have them. So now everyone around him started saying that he was “cold and unfeeling” because they’d say something to him that ordinarily would “push a button” in him, and now he wasn’t reacting in the same way. So, when one pushes a button there is no reaction, one thinks the machine is out of order; therefore, you’d better call a mechanic and get it fixed right away.
Now there was another button still hooked up in him that said “You’re not natural anymore”, and now he thought he’d better have himself hooked up in some way so he’d emote moderately, you know, the button has to react.
When he was told that all people get that information or that kind of reaction from others when they cease having emotions, he didn’t quite know how to handle that. So, we’ll have to wait and see what the next button will be.
It is very shocking to someone who walks up and is used to “pushing buttons” with everybody they meet and have them react in a certain way; so now, they push your button and it doesn’t work—the button is out of gear. They’re very frustrated right away.
If we would like to have a lot of fun, get you’re buttons so that they don’t “hook up” and react every time others go on and say and do things that formerly brought about reactions. That way you are unpredictable. Now the person who has totally taken over all the not i’s, therefore, disconnecting the buttons, is totally unpredictable and the most challenging thing that people in the world run into is that they can’t predict what you’re going to do.
Now basically, we can predict very well. I’m sure that I’ve tried it on Gene when he walked in; I’ve tried little points. I’ve pushed a little button and he always reacts properly. I know how he’s going to react. Now, if he should come in here sometime and he’s got that button “unhooked” and I throw a good insult at him and he doesn’t act like he heard it, I better fix him because something has happened to his button mechanism. They’ve been unhooked in some way or other. We frequently try it out on students of the teaching to see if they are listening or paying attention. We do insult them every now and then. You know, you don’t really insult anybody—you just say things that ordinarily pushes the right insult button within them. There’s no way to insult a person who doesn’t have an insult button—is that correct? There’s just no way to do it.
By the same token, most people have an embarrassment button. You can walk up and poke it and they turn red and get all embarrassed, but if it’s unhooked you can’t embarrass them.
They also have anger buttons and fear buttons and guilt buttons and it’s very easy to get a guilt button pushed. The human race’s famous indoor activity for centuries has been to make other people feel guilty. They go around and find a guilt button—looks like one of Linda’s little hearts, there—just poke it and immediately she feels guilty. Have you ever felt guilty, Paulette?
Well, somebody poked the right button. Now, if you had that button unhooked, they could say or do anything and you wouldn’t feel guilty.
(I can push my own.)
You can poke it pretty well yourself. You can just stumble into the wall sometime and turn the darn thing on, right?
But what advantage do these “buttons” have? What is the result of having these ‘buttons’ hooked up? What would be the advantage of unhooking these buttons?
One night this week there was a call from the east—a number of times through the night. Some man was laying on his guilt button. The damn thing was going off every hour, so I was getting calls—crying and sobbing and moaning as to how horribly guilty he was and I finally told him to turn over, get off that damned button,. He didn’t listen to that and it was keeping me awake all night. But you see, this is what happens when the buttons are set off, and that’s why I stay here and answer the phone all day. Somebody’s bumped a button somewhere, or somebody pushed one. This guy was laying on it, that’s all there is to it; and it went on all night long. Horrible sobbing and shrieking of a grown man when his guilt button got pushed…………..I don’t know who pushed his button--I think he was just laying on it. You see, once you’ve done it--and if you ever look when you did it, it felt right, proper and justified—it’s the thing to do—so why fret about it now.
You might change a direction if you felt that what you did wasn’t appropriate; but there would be no use feeling guilty about it from what went on before. That doesn’t change anything. It only gives you a gall stone or something like that. People who go around feeling disgusted get gall stones because the bowel won’t flow when you feel disgusted--so perhaps you could decide that you don’t have any time to feel disgusted or any of those other emotions that people put up with. We all know basically what all the emotions are. You have something hanging out there that is equivalent to a button on a machine—if you push it, it does the appropriate thing. If you push the “z” button on a typewriter keyboard, a “z” gets on the paper, right? If you push an “x”, an “x” goes on the paper. If you push an “a”; and you get your fingers in the right place, it will push “a, s, d, f” and so on down the line. I learned those keys one time with a semi-colon out there at the end. Your fingers get so they do it automatically—you don’t even have to think about it. You just go out there and do it. I’m sure that people who play music, their fingers do likewise--they run up and down the keyboard and you couldn’t be watching the fingers or the keys that fast. They just go there because that’s where they’re supposed to go. So it becomes mechanical and that is of value for typing or playing an instrument. But all this bit of people feeling miserable and horrible is of no value, and most people are miserable all the time to some degree—it just varies in degrees.
There’s a man here in town, a friend of mine, and I’ve known him for years and he says frequently, “Well, Bob, my whole life is just miserable, it only varies in degrees according to the day.” He called me the other day and said it was a very low degree. Two days later, he called and said, “It’s rough.” So you know, it’s just miserable, but it’s according to the degree you want of the misery--that’s all that counts.
So we’re not interested in having any great degree of misery and anxiety to carry on with. You can tell somebody some little thing and push their anxiety button and they become very anxious. Somebody walks up and takes a look at you and says, “Don’t you think maybe you’re a little sick—your color doesn’t look so good. Let me see your tongue.” Pretty soon, you’re anxious and falling apart. They say, “What’s wrong with you?” There wasn’t a thing in the world wrong to start with, but that’s when it gets started--suggestion.
So let’s start paying attention to all that goes on inside ourselves and how we react to it because it is basically a reaction and not a response. Let’s see what goes on inside and see how we have been activating ourselves from suggestion and the emotions that come about. Again, we’re going to look at it as purely as if we were looking at the top of that table or that ashtray, or a vacant chair--it’s just there. It doesn’t have any value to me because I didn’t do it—it’s only my job as an observer, as a point of awareness. And as the observer or awareness grows, you will begin to find that you are altogether different and that all these things that have been going on that gave you such a horrible feeling--that gave you such misery are ceasing to be there.
Now it’s very easy to go to sleep and totally forget about observing. You have no idea how easy it really is. If I could suggest—keep some little reminder around that every day it’s well to check up on and see what I was intending to do that I’m not doing today.
A great writer in a book many years ago wrote down that he had discovered that all the things he would do, he wasn’t doing and all the things that he would not do, he found himself doing every day. So he went to sleep somewhere along the way. He was just moaning about it. I think he had a certain amount of self pity along with it, but he felt he was not totally in charge. He wrote out a good justification for it which I don’t think was necessarily appropriate, but a few millions of people have read his justifications and have agreed that they can do nothing about “not doing what I would do and doing the things I would not do”, because he justified for everybody in not doing it.
Justifications are like all justifications—not very factual. You can do something about it, though, because you can wake up and pay attention again. So write down somewhere—in the dust on the mirror, or the dust on the back end of your car, or wherever you want, “My major occupation is to be awake, to pay attention to what’s going on within and without.” It will remind you to wake up now and then—not constantly, but it will get you going. The more you’re awake, the better it feels and the more you will notice when you go back to sleep. If you’ve been asleep most of the time, you hardly notice waking up—it’s a little startle and you’re right back to sleep and you forget it quickly.
But if you’ve been awake for quite a while and you go to sleep, it’s very startling and it does notify you in no uncertain terms to wake up again. So we can wake up whenever we really want to. Granted, it’s a little bit of an effort sometimes, but we can do it and it’s the effort that probably does the most for whatever it is we do every day. If our interest is being a fully integrated, conscious being, a whole person, instead of a bunch of fragments in this skin, it is probably the easiest and most direct way to go about it. It’s not the only way, but it’s the easiest and most direct.
Now some people like to do everything the hard way. I accused one person I know of making love standing up in a hammock because it was the hard way; and I don’t know whether he does or not, but I think so. So, if you want to do everything the hard way, there are other ways to do it. The most direct and easy way is to take charge and be in attention. You become the attention. that is I. All the rest is “not I”. I is the attention--all the rest is “not I”. If we begin to do that, we find that it works very fast and easy. Now nothing is as worthwhile as being one person instead of many inside this frame. It’s not easy, but it is simple, and it is extremely worthwhile, and this is the easiest way I know to go about it.
I’ve talked long enough, now comes the questions—who’s got the first one?
You look like you’re all bubbled up with a question there, Paulette—got one handy?
(Well, when we fall asleep and we realize that we’ve been asleep, is just realizing that……..)
………is to get up—that’s realizing a little bit and you get up and start paying attention again. Don’t regret the time you were asleep. It’s no use letting that be a guilt button that can now begin to poke you. With a lot of people, that’s a good way to poke their guilt button—“My God, I’ve been asleep. I never will get anywhere. I’m falling apart at the seams.” There’s no reason to waste one moment on it. I think the old folks told me back in the hills that there is no reason to cry over spilled milk. You go milk the cow again as soon as possible. Don’t cry about that spilled on the ground; it’s gone and that’s it……………and so what.
Ok, next question? Jeanne, you got anything burning up there for me to talk on?
(I know where I go to sleep)
Where you go to sleep? You know what puts you to sleep?
(Yeah, attention inwards. There’s a lot of times you get so inwards, you don’t get outwards.)
Well, I said both sides, didn’t I? Now some people think that all they have to do is pay attention inside. Obviously we live in the world so we need to pay a little attention to the outside too. Now what’s going on inside is basically a reaction to the world, so we want to see how the reaction was. But first we want to pay attention to the outside.
It’s like a young man who came in to visit us not too long ago. I met him a year or so ago and he was so “good” it hurt. He didn’t smoke cigarettes and he had little blowers in his car to blow ozone on him to kill all impurities in the air; and a few dozen other things that he was doing. He was eating only vegetarian foods—no meat at all--and with any other foods they had to be very pure with no additives. He watched me one day and said, “I don’t understand—some people say you’re very spiritual and you’re eating meat, smoking and doing this and doing that and the other.”
I said, “Well, I’m earthy because I live on the earth plane, and I’m very earthly and I’m going to continue to be earthly and that’s the only way to be spiritual when you live on earth—that you are where you are. You got to function from where you are. Now, you can set yourself off and say, “I’m above all this.” but you’re in it. Your feet are on the ground and you’re walking on earth and you’re going to keep on being on earth, so you might as well be a little earthy and recognize what you are, where you are and what’s going on. What you can do is be spiritual--not fitting some little standard of behavior you took on as a suggestion that it was “good”. It’s very simple to do without cigarettes and coffee; but I hardly feel that it would entitle me to the celestial kingdom, but by keeping the word of wisdom, I’ve heard it called. I know people who’ve never smoked a cigarette, never had any coffee and they were as grumpy as anybody I knew. My mother and Dad, neither one, smoked or drank coffee. I never knew what coffee was until I got out in the world and found out; and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. I didn’t know what a cigarette was until I found them; and I haven’t quite caught up, but I’m working at it.
(How do you balance those things out, the inwardness—you know a lot of times I seem to be very self centered?)
Well, aren’t you?
(……and furthermore, I’m not interested in other people. I’m too busy maintaining and concentrating on what I’m doing and it doesn’t set too well.)
It’s according to what you’re doing. If you’re running a saw, you’d better be self centered. You’d better be watching what you’re doing—is that right? It all depends. So it’s not a matter of balancing, I don’t think, as much as it is being aware that basically “what’s going on in the inside is a reaction to the outside”. So you have them both in focus at the same time. They’re not two separate things, sir.
The inner and the outer are not two separate things. If you happen to notice the inner first, you look what’s this reacting to. If you notice the outside first, you ask “what reaction is going on?” Now you’re not reacting, the not ‘i’s are doing that; and if you pay attention, it’s all the same. The inner and outer are really not much different because it’s only which ones you look at first.
It’s like one time my dad had a circular training track to train five-gaited saddle horses. They ran around this little circle and it had a fence on each side of it. One sunny fall day, I was sitting out there on that fence--just what folks today would call meditating. I was just gathering horse feathers or whatever—just sitting there goofing off and there was a dog that came by “Yip, Yip”. He was running as hard as he could and he ran on around the track and here comes a rabbit and he was running just as hard as he could. From all appearances that rabbit was chasing that dog, right? The dog went by first and then came the rabbit; but they were both in there running around that circle like horses, so I figured out that maybe the dog was chasing the rabbit. It was according to who came by first.
So it’s according to whether you check on the outside first and then the inside, or the inside first and then the outside as to which comes first. They are a circle. They’re chasing each other like the dog and the rabbit. If you pay attention to one and notice what the other part of it is, it’s out there, so you’re never too much inside or outside—it’s all together.
(The inside is a reaction to the outside, but isn’t the outside a reflection of the inside?)
Not necessarily dear, the way we see it, sometimes is the way the inside is, but it’s not the way it is, it’s the way we see it.
If, while you were sleeping one night—someone sneaked in and put some rose colored contact lenses on your eyes; and when you got up in the morning, you didn’t know what had happened, you would believe that the world had suddenly become all rose colored out there. Everything had a rose tint on it, but it’s not—it’s only the way you’re seeing it through the twisted or colored lens you have on.
And the same way if I see everybody as being mean or ornery--it’s the lens I am looking through. Sometimes I will draw a little picture, some guy with a big nose and a big chip and he’s looking out here and he’s eyeballing something and here is a square out here, but let’s put a distorted lens in front of him and he looks out here and he sees that square. Do you think he’ll see a square or will he see something that looks kinda like that because he’s looking through this thing which distorts everything and that’s what all of our beliefs are—things which we look through which distort what’s outside.
Now you know, we look at somebody and we say they’re so and so and look at somebody else and say they are terrible and we look at someone else and say they are no doubt a wonderful person; but you do business with them and lose your shirt next week, and then you change your mind on that lens. But it’s all according to what you’re looking through, and you look through your beliefs.
So don’t believe that what you see out there is a reflection of the inside, it is an indication of the distorted lens you carry around—the lens is our belief; so we’ll label this lens here is beliefs and agreements that we have with ourselves.
(A lot of things we get……theology says that the outer world is a good time to look at what’s going on over here.)
It’s well to see what you’re looking through. What set of beliefs are you looking through? It may not be chaotic at all, it may be a lot of activity going on and usually that’s what it is—just a lot of activity, and it’s not chaotic at all unless you see it through a distorted lens of some sort or other.
(Well, I’ll start looking at what’s going on inside and…..)
………. it’s like the man told about he was going down a white water stream and the water wound him up against a log--he couldn’t move; but he kept his head above water and said, “Well, I’m breathing.” And he remembered Bob said, “Well, I’m all right now.”. He survived all right—he’s out here to tell the story. Now otherwise he could have got excited and got killed in there very quickly. Ok, any other questions, comments?
(I had a unique opportunity to cut down on the stimuli, so it’s like going back to being real simple.)
(So when there’s not i’s going on, and they’re screaming…….)
Yeah, they’re going full tilt because your distraction level has been slowed down the last few weeks……
……and ordinarily when something started sounding, why Linda ran and got a good dose of distraction and didn’t hear it, is that right?
So now you’re having to listen to them just a little bit. Noisy bastards aren’t they?
(Loud-------today I caught another one that said, “You are getting so worthless, so empty headed—you’re not doing anything.)
You have not done any distraction work in a week, have you?
(I’m not trying to even read.)
Chased any men all week or anything… so then you’re………
(And the not i’s say “You are a very uninteresting person.”……………End of tape.