The western culture is based on the narrow/objective attention style. [Just to remind you – when our attention is narrow we are specific and we divide reality into smaller pieces (objects) which can be fully attended one by one]
Think about the world we live in. We see ourselves as separated beings moving independently through time and space. I am not you and you are not me. We see everything (including our life, body and partners) as objects. We can have them or lose them. We fear death (vanishing as an object) so we strive to look young, fit, strong and there is a whole industry attached to this fear.
We feel surrounded by objects which are separated from us. There is no continuity between me and walls in my room. The space which is so present is completely ignored.
Our science recognizes objects and describes relations between them. The computer based/digital world is based on one and zero, objective one to the other. Our reality is filled with the narrow/objective style ‘products’ — guidelines, protocols, rules, paragraphs, targets and deadlines. We live in a cult of continuous progression coming from separation between the present and desirable future. There is always something which is not completely right and could be improved. It could always be better, higher, further, stronger, richer, more and more and a bit more again.
The objective attention enables us to declare war or to provoke argument, to trigger jealousy, rage or hatred. In my opinion, the present western culture is based on an objective and very narrow attention. I hope it is clear for you now.
But what is the other option? How would the world look if it was the diffuse/immerse attention style dominant? The world where everything is one. Fully connected, harmonized and unified. Where objects and space between them are equal; where sounds are not different than the silence between them; where light is unified with darkness, day with night; where time between birth and death is equal to time between death and birth.
Not surprisingly there is a place where people are the diffuse/immerse attention style dominant. This is how they describe reality. Read the words of Heart Sutra, the best known and most popular Buddhist scripture of all.
Body is nothing more than emptiness, emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty, and emptiness is exactly body.
The other four aspects of human existence — feeling, thought, will, and consciousness — are likewise nothing more than emptiness, and emptiness nothing more than they.
All things are empty.
Nothing is born, nothing dies, nothing is pure, nothing is stained, nothing increases and nothing decreases.
So, in emptiness, there is no body, no feeling, no thought, no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing, no smelling, no tasting, no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard, nor smelled, nor tasted, nor touched, nor imagined.
There is no ignorance, and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death, and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom, and no wisdom to attain.
The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom, and so with no delusions, they feel no fear, and have Nirvana here and now.
All the Buddhas, past, present, and future, rely on the Perfection of Wisdom, and live in full enlightenment.
The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra, the highest mantra, the mantra that removes all suffering.
This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so: Gone, gone, gone over, gone fully over.
You can listen to a monk chanting Heart Sutra.
When your attention is flexible you are able to perceive separate objects and feel that everything (and nothing) is one. You see the materialistic side of the world (full of objects you can get) and you feel deeply the essence of spirituality (oneness, connection, harmony, love, unity, synchrony). You are truly balanced, fulfilled and happy.
The four attention styles theory connects two very distinct approaches to life from two sides of the world in one elegant formula. It also gives us the chance to eventually comprehend what far east monks have been saying to us for thousands of years. It explains their majestic calmness and fearlessness of suffering and death. It connects the West and the East culture in a brilliant way. That is why I love it!
It is available to you today. Try one of free Open Focus exercises to feel for yourself how diffusing attention feels like.
Flexible attention is an ability to alternate between narrow attention (focused) and diffused attention (broad) or to apply both at the same time.
Narrowing makes us specific but requires dividing reality into smaller pieces (objects). Diffusing allows us to see the big picture and connect (immerse) with its elements.
Pain, anxiety and problems make the attention narrow and objective. We can self help ourselves by diffusing and immersing our attention.
Continue to this post.