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  Table of Contents

1) Introduction
2) Words
3) Silence, Feeling, and Attention
4) Thought
5) Forms of Attention
6) Essential Practices of Silence - Still Attention
7) Essential Practices of Silence - Active Attention
8) Zen & Primal



Chapter Three: Silence, Feeling, and Attention

Silence & Feelings

Silence and feeling are the ground of all "realization" and healing change. There have been no books ever written or ideas ever expounded that can compare to the effects of silence and feeling. They are the basis of power and unity. And grand as that may seem, it is nothing more than the simple fact that the only way to experience, or to know, an apple, is to taste/feel it in silence with full attention. If there were a million books describing and analyzing the apple, they could not possibly substitute for the undistracted sensation of actually tasting and eating one.

What is Silence?

Silence is a word chosen more for its feeling than its meaning. It is not necessarily a "quiet" state. You can be in the midst of a frenetic, screaming crisis and be in silence. Or you can have no words in your mind and be distracted by sexual imagery and not be in silence. Silence is a state that is the absence of anything that separates or distracts from the sensations and feelings of the Here and Now. It is a total immersion in whatever you are and whatever is happening. It is impossible to describe because words are too limited. Rather than being an empty removal of something, however, silence is a full experience that is rich and tasty in its own way. This richness, this tastiness, is the flavor of you and your world - life itself.

Attention

Attention is a word whose root is attend - to be present, to be here. Its Latin roots can be seen in at (to) and tendere (to stretch) - that is, to stretch or attach to, like a tendon connecting a bone to muscle. The word attain is also related - getting to that which you are reaching to be attached to. All of these words refer to being connected to something. When you pay attention, it is as if you reach out and attach or notice that you're already attached. Another related word in this group is attendance. When the chairperson takes attendance and your name is called, you answer "Here." Exactly. To be in attendance is to be here.

Attention is the state of being here, now - connected with whatever it is you are here with - the room, the forest, your clothes, your body, your hair, the food, the people, etc. If you're day dreaming, or talking to yourself, you're not all here - not paying attention. When your mind wanders and the hammer hits your thumb, you are not paying attention. When you listen to the radio and drive right past your destination you are not paying attention. When you inhale dinner while watching TV and can't remember tasting the pie, you are not paying attention.

The benefits of developed attention are:

Appreciation of Life
Food tastes better and richer. Sunsets are more colourful, comedy is funnier, sex is more passionate. Feeling is full and deep.

Development of Skills
Attention allows "mistakes" to be seen more clearly, advice to be more easily absorbed, skills to be learned and developed more quickly.

Recognition of Opportunities
When you're aware, opportunities are appreciated and recognized when they arrive.

Accident Prevention
Most accidents are the result of poor attention on someone's part. By paying attention and staying alert and undistracted, a great deal of injury and mishap can be prevented.

Recognition and Prevention of Illness
Many illnesses, from colds to heart failure can be prevented by attending to what the body needs. These things rarely just happen by accident. By not paying attention and noticing the first signs of trouble, we "absent-mindedly" invite disaster.

Healing
Awareness is blocked by the pain we carry. When we pay attention to our feelings, the original pains that bolster our sickness/defenses rise into consciousness to be felt, expressed and integrated. All manner of illnesses, physical and emotional, are recognized and healed.



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© January 2000 by Sam Turton.