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Chapter 44 - To attend implies vast energy

As we have pointed out, we are deeply involved in our daily life as educators and as human beings. We are human beings first and then educators, not the other way round. Because a teacher is a human being whose special profession is education, his life is not only in the classroom but is involved with the whole outer world as well as inner struggles, ambitions and relationships. He is as conditioned as the student. Though their conditioning may vary, it is still conditioning. If you accept it as inevitable and abide by it, then you are further conditioning others. There are many who accept this, trying to modify their limitations. But as educators aren't you concerned with bringing about a different social entity, a future generation which perceives the futility of wars as organized murder, a generation which is concerned with global interrelationship without nationalistic isolation, a generation which is involved with truth? Surely this is the function of a true educator.

Human consciousness is conditioned. Any thoughtful person would accept this fact, but many of us are not aware of this, and perhaps neither is the educator. To become aware of his conditioning and to investigate whether it is possible to be free of its limitation, is one of the functions of a teacher. So we have to go into what it is to be aware, to concentrate, to give total attention. It is very important to understand the meaning of these.

Awareness implies sensitivity: to be sensitive to nature, to the hills, rivers and the trees around one; to be aware of a poor man walking down the road and to be sensitive to his feelings, his reactions, to his appalling and degrading poverty; to be sensitive to the man who is sitting next to you, or to the nervousness of your friend or sister. This sensitivity has no choice in it and it does not criticize. There is no judgemental evaluation.

You are sensitive to a cloud about which you can do nothing. Is this sensitivity the result of time and practice? If you allow thought and practice, then that very thought and practice kill sensitivity. Learn to observe sensitively; learn what sensitivity implies; capture it rather than cultivate it. Don't ask how to capture it-grasp it. In the very perception you are sensitive. There is no resistance in sensitivity. Sensitivity is to the immediate and limitless.

Concentration is a process of resistance. Every educator knows what it means to concentrate. The educator is concerned with stuffing the brain with knowledge of various subjects so that the student will pass examinations and get a job. The student also has this in his mind. The educator and the student are encouraging each other in the form of resistance which is concentration. So one is building the capacity to resist, to exclude; and gradually one becomes isolated. Concentration is the focussing of one's energy on the blackboard or a book and avoiding distraction. The very word distraction implies concentration. Actually, there is no distraction; there is only resistance which is called concentration, and any movement away from that is considered distraction. So in this there is conflict, struggle and resistance. This resistance will inevitably bring about the limitation of the brain that is our conditioning. To perceive this whole movement with sensitivity is to move into a different area, which is to be attentive.

What is it to be attentive? If we really grasp the significance of sensitivity, of awareness, the limitation of concentration- not intellectually or verbally, but the actuality of such states- then we can ask what it is to be attentive. Attention involves seeing and hearing. We not only hear with our ears but we are also sensitive to the tones, to the voice, to the implication of words, to hear without interference, to capture instantly the depth of a sound. Sound plays an extraordinary part in our lives: the sound of thunder, a flute playing in the distance, the unheard sound of the universe, the sound of silence, the sound of one's own heart beating, the sound of a bird or a waterfall and the noise of a man walking on the pavement. The universe is filled with sound. This sound has its own silence; all living things are involved in this sound of silence. To be attentive is to hear this silence and move with it.

Seeing is a very complex affair. One sees casually with one's eyes, and swiftly passes by, never seeing the details of a leaf, its form and structure, its colours, the variety of greens. To observe a cloud with all the light of the world in it; to follow a stream chattering down the hill; to look at your friend with the sensitivity in which there is no resistance; and to see yourself as you are without the shades of denial or easy acceptance; to see yourself as part of the whole; to see the immensity of the universe-this is observation: to see without the shadow of yourself.

Attention is this hearing and this seeing, and this attention has no resistance, so it is limitless. To attend implies vast energy; it is not pinned down to a point. In this attention there is no repetitive movement; it is not mechanical. There is no question of how to maintain this attention. When one has learned the art of seeing and hearing, this attention can focus itself on a page, a word. In this there is no resistance, which is the activity of concentration.

Inattention cannot be refined into attention. To be aware of inattention is the ending of it; it is not that it becomes attentive. The ending has no continuity. The past modifying itself is the future, a continuity of what has been. We find security in continuity, not in endings. So attention has no quality of continuity. Anything that continues is mechanical. Becoming is mechanical and implies time. Attention has no quality of time. All this is a tremendously complicated issue. One must gently, deeply go into it.