An inattentive mind is filled with thoughts. In a passive state it is constantly creating images and applying them to what I observe. The images provoke pleasure or pain, which is recorded in my memory, and illusions form around desires for satisfaction. In observing from a fixed vantage point, this mind creates a kind of separation, an opposition, a judge that reacts to everything with a preconception based on what has been learned.
This inner disposition is one of the greatest obstacles to receiving impressions, any impression— judging oneself, judging another, judging others, judging . . . no matter what. In truth, our entire life is colored, even directed, by this tendency, which is stronger than we are.
Whenever and wherever it arises, this judging shows that our ordinary “ I” is involved. There is not a moment in the day when we stop judging, even when we are alone. It keeps us in ferocious slavery, enslaved by what we believe we know and what we believe ourselves to be.
There is in me an essential energy that is the basis of all that exists. I do not feel it because my attention is occupied by everything contained in my memory— thoughts, images, desires, disappointments, physical impressions. I do not know what I am. It seems that I am nothing. Yet something tells me to look, to listen, to seek seriously and truly. When I try to listen, I see that I am stopped by thoughts and feelings of all kinds. I listen poorly; I am not quiet enough to hear, to feel. What I wish to know is more subtle. I do not have the attention that is required.
I have not yet seen the difference between a fixed attention coming from only one part of myself and a free attention attached to nothing, held back by nothing, which involves all the centers at the same time.
My usual attention is caught in one part and remains taken by the movement, the functioning of this part. For example, I think about what I am feeling, and my thought responds in place of me. It answers with a knowledge that is not true, not an immediate knowing. My thoughts are merely the expression of what is stored in my memory, not revelations of something new. This thinking is enclosed in a narrow space within myself. Always preoccupied, it holds back my attention in this space, isolated from the rest of me, from my body and feeling.
With my attention continually projected from one thought to another, from one image to another in a flowing current, I am hypnotized by my mind. These thoughts— and all my desires, affections, fears— are connected only by habits or attachments, which link each one to the next. My attention is caught in this current because I have never fully realized that it was given to me for another purpose.
~ J de S