On the First and Second Attentions
BY ANTERO ALLI
"It is essential that you have Knowledge.
It is also essential that you escape the Known." -- J. Krishnamurti
HOW THE TWO ATTENTIONS WORK
What we pay attention to informs the content of our minds; how we pay attention informs the quality of our minds. Two types of attention will be addressed here to demonstrate these ideas. The first attention refers to that awareness linked to language, thinking and the automatic assignment of labels and meaning. The second attention is not linked to language, thinking and/or meaning, but to that awareness linking to presence, energy, and phenomena. The second attention does not assign meaning to what it perceives. Both attentions are important and necessary for differing reasons.
The underlying purpose of the first attention is survival -- the attention required to solve our survival probelms. The underlying purpose of the second attention is creativity through direct contact with the phenomena of creation. These two attentions can function separately and/or together at various degrees and consequences. Left alone, the first attention fixates awareness on survival issues -- such as security, status, analysis, money, problem solving, and social needs. Left alone, the second attention fixates on "post-survival" luminosities such as ecstasy, rapture, clairvoyance, telepathy, sources of inspiration, intuition, and the imaginal powers of dreaming.
The first attention expresses a function of physical sight and intellect; the second attention links tothe energetic body and intuition with biological correlations in the Central Nervous System. The sense of sight (first attention) is linked to insight (second attention) by way of stimulation of the light-sensitive, serotonin-rich pineal gland via the optic nerve. This stimulation occurs naturally during the onset of sleep, resulting in the hypnogogic state of shifting imagery that bridges waking and dreaming states. Though both attentions are linked, their mutual interaction remains for the most part latent and rarely made conscious during daytime waking hours. Discovering and developing meaningful interactions between both attentions involves a kind of double vision for seeing through surfaces into underlying infrastructures and essences while developing truthful interpretations of these insights.
The first attention is stable and stabilizes awareness; the second attention is unstable and destabilizes awareness. First attention stability is maintained by the pursuit of certitudes such as fixed beliefs, ideas, preconceptions, assumptions, and dogmas. The unstable second attention is maintained by permitting more uncertainty and by residing in the inner silence of being unknown to oneself. The mutual regulation of both attentions tend to open and/or narrow the mind according to each person's innate anxiety threshold or, how much uncertainty can be permitted before anxiety sets in?
Both attentions can be strengthened through different types of concentration. First attention concentrates by fixating on any idea, image, or concept; second attention concentrates by merging with the perceived energy or phenomena. First attention creates a picture and assigns a story, a message or meaning to it. The second attention attunes to the signal, frequency or vibration of the energy. A message is the ordering of a signal. Second attention gets the signal, first attention organizes it into a message.
This interplay between signal and message happens by itself - unconsciously and beyond our control -- at the speed of light. The second attention absorbs luminosity and is light-sensitive; the first attention translates energy (light) with pattern recognition. The second attention acts like a radar dish receiving raw signals from inner and outer space, while the first attention is like the computer program that translates and outputs incoming signals as readable data.
The first attention can act as an anchor to the second attention, as the second attention can act as a catalyst or shock to the first attention. The first attention anchors the second attention when we learn to find words, images, and ideas that most truthfully serve the authenticity of the signal. The second attention shocks the first attention with uncertainty by the option to experience the unknown firsthand. If the second attention fails to anchor itself in the first attention, the absorption of luminosity can accelerate and overstimulate the nervous systems; we become "all lit up with nowhere to go". Not unlike an overheated electrical wire without a ground wire, the forces of creation are engaged but sputter, disperse and fail to manifest in time and space.
If the first attention consistently avoids uncertainty and resists the unknown, the thinking processes can rigidify, grow brittle, become overly literal and eventually, claustrophobic and paranoid. Educational systems of western civilization have bestowed the first attention with too much power by assigning it a priori status. In school, we are given the highest grades for how much knowledge we can retain and we learn to equate Failure with not knowing. The "knowing mind" belongs as much to the first attention as the "not knowing mind" belongs to the second attention. First attention equates known data with information; second attention equates information with surprise. First attention secures itself by accumulating knowledge as much as the second attention thrives on discovery.
First attention inflation has been culturally sanctioned, resulting in a kind of mental tyranny over the body/psyche by the mechanism of over-thinking and over-literalist interpretations of experience. This compulsion further complicates itself in nonstop, dualistic comparisons and associations until the entire psyche becomes enslaved by an inflated, arrogant intellect. Claustrophobia sets in when the first attention dominates with its compulsive proof gathering habits. Our minds fill up with the cluttering detritus of random, impersonal information and eventually, with enough practice, our once mysterious minds become musty, dusty dead data depositories. When we can learn to use the intellect as a tool, we can begin to discover more meaningful ways that link the first and second attentions.
If you wish to accelerate perception, relax the urge to label and to define. While these reactions may temporarily secure our sense of certitude, their hypnotic influence can overwhelm the inner action of seeing.
If basic survival problems remain unsolved -- when security, status and/or territory becomes threatened -- survival anxiety naturally ensues. In an attempt to alleviate this anxiety, the first attention can begin fixating on absolutes as an, albeit unconscious, attempt to restore a sense of security via certitude where no certainty actually exists. In its extreme, an insatiable appetite for certitudes can mask the suffering of frustrated survival/security needs. This dillemna can also drive us crazy by trying to make sense of everything or spin out in a nonstop rant of rationalizations. First attention cannot solve the problems created by the first attention. Attempting to solve problems with the very mechanistic mindset that created them in the first place perpetuates a kind of mobius strip of mental looping. Mad, mad, mad Monkey Mind.
The mad reign of King Monkey Mind can be overthrown by shifting the focus towards the second attention. The second attention can be cultivated by relaxing the search for meaning. This can be experienced by relaxing the tendency to project, interpret, and/or assume meaning onto whatever is perceived, in lieu of paying more attention to whatever presents itself before our eyes. This shift can be expediated by refusing to label or name or narrate whatever you are perceiving or experiencing. This begins a process of flexing a perceptual muscle that was at one time active and vital before it weakened, corrupted, and/or atrophied.
The application of the first and second attentions turns into wisdom when both awarenesses work together. To review, the first attention is attached to day-to-day survival concerns, solving everyday mundane problems, and making sense of things by automatically assigning labels and meaning to experience. The second attention is linked to presence, energy and phenomena, allowing direct engagement with the autonomous forces of creation and even the living archetypes governing existence. As these two attentions recognize each other and find ways to work together, an important bridge must be built between them so we may traverse freely between worlds.
from STATE OF EMERGENCE, Part 5
A Paratheatre Manifesto by Antero Alli
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