ATTENTION

September 24, 2014
This issue is now obsolete. For latest references please see: KHTK Mindfulness. The specific reference that updates this issue is Inconsistency in KHTK
The basic idea introduced in this essay was that non-optimum attention is a strong indicator of an inconsistency.

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All “truths” are inconsistencies at some level. If the attention goes to them then they need to be examined more closely. It seems that the purpose of free attention is to spot and dissolve inconsistencies to allow the sensory input to flow rapidly toward the understanding of self.

THEORY

From Wikipedia: Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of processing resources.”

The awareness of the environment is contained most directly in the layer of perception in the mind. Sensory input is then processed further into subsequent layers.

Attention may be looked upon as the filter, which selectively brings to awareness the contents of these layers.

Attention, when left to itself, generally goes to those areas where the processing of sensory input is slowed or blocked by inconsistencies, and it is not flowing down to subsequent layers. This happens when inconsistencies are not being recognized as inconsistencies but are taken for granted.

An inconsistency is something that is not consistent with its surroundings. It is arbitrary to some degree. Yet it is accepted because it seems to explain some confusion.

An inconsistency, thus, keeps some confusion at bay. It seems to serve this function at local level, even when it is not consistent broadly. Examples of this would be unreal beliefs that people carry around, and strange rituals that they engage in.

Though an inconsistency is usually taken for granted, and thus it escapes general notice, the area of inconsistency still subtly draws the attention towards itself. Something in that area doesn’t seem to make sense but one cannot put one’s finger on it. The daily life may direct attention according to one’s intentions, but, now and then, one may find the attention to be drawn to certain areas.

Free attention is a powerful indicator of where one should be looking more closely to dissolve inconsistencies that are blocking the flow of sensory input.

The process of free association is very helpful when combined with looking. In free association one looks at the mind without interfering with it. Attention may flip from place to place; but as one keeps looking non-judgmentally without resistance, a pattern may emerge. As one keeps looking, the pattern may reveal some inconsistency. Usually there is disbelief and resistance, for the inconsistency appears to be restraining some confusion. But as one continues to look, the confusion starts to dissolve and so does the inconsistency, giving one a sense of relief.

It is confusion due to suppressed perceptions and feelings that keeps an inconsistency in place.

As an inconsistency dissolves, the attention seems to shift naturally to the next area where another inconsistency may reside. It is as if the mind is wound up and it wants to unwind itself. Free association, with looking, seems to let the mind do all the work in sorting out the morass of ideas that are entangled with each other.

Let the mind bring up what needs to be sorted out first, and then the next thing, and the next thing.

It is the non-judgmental nature of looking, without resistance, which permits the inconsistency to dissolve upon closer look. The following steps may be helpful in spotting and dissolving inconsistencies in real life.

  1. Look at the general area where one’s attention gets drawn naturally.
  2. Look non-judgmentally until you become aware of the actual purpose there.
  3. Continue looking until you become aware of how that area should actually be.
  4. Notice the area of inconsistency that is now visible more narrowly.

Repetition of these steps will bring you closer and closer to the actual inconsistency, until there is nothing hidden or suppressed. Then the inconsistency simply falls apart letting the sensory input flow in toto. This helps bring complete understanding at the ultimate level of self.

APPLICATION

In the absence of a partner these exercises may be done by oneself. The guide may help the student as follows.

(A) Go over the theory section with the student.

  1. Answer any questions as best as you can.
  2. Discuss the theory materials until no questions remain.
  3. Make sure the student understand the main points highlighted in bold in theory section.

(B) Have the student do the exercises in sequence.

  1. Guide the student through the exercises.
  2. Maintain an open and friendly communication about student’s experience on the exercise.

EXERCISE

THE PURPOSE OF THESE EXERCISES IS TO PRACTICE FREE ASSOCIATION WITH LOOKING, IN SPOTTING INCONSISTENCIES AND CONFUSIONS.

Exercise 1     

Move around in your living space, and let your attention roam freely. Apply the four steps listed under theory until nothing is hidden or suppressed in that area. Repeat the four steps as necessary.

Exercise 2

Go for a walk in the neighborhood, and let your attention roam freely. Apply the four steps listed under theory until nothing is hidden or suppressed in that area. Repeat the four steps as necessary.

Exercise 3

Go for a walk in a park. Look at things as far as your eye can see, and let your attention roam freely. Apply the four steps listed under theory until nothing is hidden or suppressed in that area. Repeat the four steps as necessary.

Exercise 4

Go to a coffee shop. Observe the surroundings, and let your attention roam freely. Apply the four steps listed under theory until nothing is hidden or suppressed in that area. Repeat the four steps as necessary.

Exercise 5

Go to crowded places like a market, bus station, or airport. Quietly observe the people and surroundings, and let your attention roam freely. Apply the four steps listed under theory until nothing is hidden or suppressed in that area. Repeat the four steps as necessary.

 

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Comments

  • Bunkai  On June 8, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Recommend Bold Text: Non-optimum attention is a powerful indicator of where one should be looking.

    Recommend Bolt Text: Attention is non-optimum when it keeps coming back to the same thing ((YOU MAY WANT TO INCLUDE INCONSISTENCY IN THIS DEFINITION SUCH AS)) “which results in inconsistencies in the topic holding undue focus or in the areas not focused upon.”

    Recommended Bold Text: An inconsistency would be something that does not make sense.

    “Looking Broadly” could be elaborated upon to give the reader ideas on what “Looking Broadly” would look like. “Who, what where and why” questions, “scales questions from 1-10 on things observed; Questions in opposite, “What looks right here? What looks wrong here? What looks beautiful here? What looks ugly here?” “etc.

    The “Looking Broadly” definition may need a separate page of potential ways to “look broadly.” If you don’t want a structured approach to “looking broadly” you may want to elaborate more on HOW to look broadly, or provide optional “lenses” for them to look through.

  • Bunkai  On July 3, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    One tool that makes this work a little better is a card with all four edges having one of the instructions of the 4 steps. Rotate the card and read each of the four steps over and over.

  • vinaire  On July 3, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    You are too far ahead of me, Bunkai. I am still struggling with your comments on KHTK 4. Your comments have gotten me to re-write KHTK 3 and now KHTK 4. You’ll see the new KHTK 4 pretty soon. I don’t know yet but I may end up revising some exercises too.

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  • Bunkai  On July 3, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    I was wrong about this comment. I personally think your current version is just fine as it is:

    “Looking Broadly” could be elaborated upon to give the reader ideas on what “Looking Broadly” would look like. “Who, what where and why” questions, “scales questions from 1-10 on things observed; Questions in opposite, “What looks right here? What looks wrong here? What looks beautiful here? What looks ugly here?” “etc.

  • Bunkai  On July 5, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    🙂

    Half way through this one. The card thing works better for me. Anyway, I find the process is very practical and uplifting.

    Only thing I see is that it is “Problem/Solution” focused. This is great for fixing problems. But it is also may be good to strengthen what IS working already and the increase of existing strengths often fixes many weaknesses. You may have this in coming ahead in this work, but you may want to consider STRENGTHENING existing skills at attention with the same kind of exercise.

    Another Version of Your Process:

    1. Look broadly at the area of HIGHLY OPTIMAL attention.
    2. Carefully determine the basic purpose of that area.
    3. Visualize HOW THIS IDEAL SCENE SURPASSES OTHER LESSER SCENES.
    4. Notice the SKILLS OF ATTENTION that CREATE SUCH EXCELLENCE.

    • vinaire  On July 5, 2011 at 9:08 PM

      This is excellent contribution.

      Give me some time, and I shall incorporate it.

      .

  • vinaire  On August 14, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    It has taken me over a month but I have finally been able to revise this essay. I hope that it makes more sense now.

    One is basically sorting out what is actually there by removing confusions which are explained away by inconsistencies. I think that the “upgrade of ideal scene” will come about by itself as this process is applied.

    ~Vinaire

  • Chris Thompson  On November 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Do I understand you correctly that the best statement of a truth would be the most accurate statement of an inconsistency?

    • vinaire  On November 20, 2011 at 9:07 AM

      Well, I wrote an essay on truth a while ago.

      Essay #9: THE NATURE OF TRUTH

      Truth is what is left after an inconsistency has been spotted and let go. I no longer think that truth can be defined in some absolute sense. There are always higher levels of truth. It is an infinite series.

      .

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