Listening Attention

A certain kind of attention.
A certain kind of attention.

A swan on her eggs. Listening. The M6 Motorway but a field away. She is sitting in her place. She is both doing something and not doing something. She is in effect saying yes and no at the same time.

My version of listening, of saying yes and no at the same time is to think in response to just about anything, I don’t need to do that now, or I don’t have to do that. Or I don’t need to think about this at the moment. In the end the words themselves drop away and the yes/no attention remains. And sometimes the words help renew the intention for a certain kind of attention. In life generally.

We talk about ‘returning to the place of meditation’, of ‘returning to stillness’ and that’s basically what I’m talking about here. However I’d say now, tonight, that one lives in an ongoing flow of refraining. Of  Yes/No together.  No gaps, not dual.

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15 thoughts on “Listening Attention”

  1. Hi,

    “an ongoing flow of refraining” is a beautiful phrase that I am stealing for a future work. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, consider yourself flattered. Now, stop swanning around and get to work doing nothing. Very timely post for me. Thanks, Gerry

    1. Looking closely, not even yes/no. Confusion and paradox dissolve into a kind of certainty — of undefinable “suchness.” Refraining becomes relaxing.

      1. Well Kathleen. It might be a matter of words and their very personal meaning we ascribe them. For me, and that’s just me, I come to the ‘listening’ with a certain kind of ‘alive alertness’. Neither overly so nor underly so. And the business of living and the daily life koan arising is to ‘stay with it’ as best I can, neither overly or underly ‘with it’. I see underly isn’t an actual word however I like it!

        I expect we would have a good ol’ time talking over a table on all of this. Till the next time, and in the mean time we have this contact.

        1. How wonderful it would be to sit across the table from one another and chat. I’ve added “underly” to my vocabulary… a very useful word.

    2. I’ll take the flattery Gerry! Hope your writing is going on apace. Just wish I’d been able to come to Canada this summer to swap stories with you. Well, I’d hoped to be doing that anyway.

      1. Hi,

        When you come, it will be nice to chat again. I have not spent any time with the sangha because I am once again in flux with life and where to live. Have sold my condo and contemplating moving up Vancouver Island and living more simply and in touch with…life and quiet. Look me up if you get here, please. Gerry

    1. I’m always a bit wary of the word mindfulness, again because it means so many different things in practice to people. If what I wrote means that to you and it is a good and positive thing. Great.

  2. That exquisite moment when the brain’s chatter stops or simply fades away. “Yes” and “No” at the same time.

    1. Well, to be honest, I am not sure ‘brain chatter’ stops for me. More like it moves into a room some distance away and I can’t hear what’s being said. Obviously a metaphor.

      1. That’s a better way of putting it methinks. The chatter is still there but at a remove.
        Thank you for that.


        1. You are very welcome Norman. But I’d not want to take your words of understanding away from you. What words one uses are of course subject to change and I gues there is no way of changing that!

  3. I needed this reminder! I did not NEED to think over a fretting something all week, which niggled away at me. It did need to be gently placed upon the altar, giving space to discern what was truly good to do, or not to do.
    In Gassho.

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