It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humor, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason. Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humor process is involved in changing them.
Attention is the key to life. Whatever you really give your attention to, you become. Whatever you really concentrate upon will come into your life. We grow into the thing that fills our thoughts as inevitably as the stream merges into the ocean at last.
Americans continue to suffer from a notoriously short attention span. They get mad as hell with reasonable frequency, but quickly return to their families and sitcoms. Meanwhile, the corporate lobbies stay right where they are, outlasting all the populist hysteria.
The consciousness of the individual person unfolds as the experience of his own inner history. Every single moment is a phase in his historical becoming. Everything coming into consciousness in a specific moment is determined by how it fits into the course of this becoming or how it arrests or runs counter to it. Everything attention lays hold of, is present and is now. But this Now is the Now of the inner life-history, whose progress in becoming is not measurable by the standard of objective time
The most valuable skill that you could ever develop is the skill of directing your thoughts toward what you want--to be adept at quickly evaluating all situations and then quickly coming to the conclusion of what you most want--and then giving your undivided attention to that.
The connexion of ideas can arise from no other cause, than from the attention given to them, when they presented themselves conjunctly to our minds.
But while human liberty has engaged the attention of the enlightened, and enlisted the feelings of the generous of all civilized nations, may we not enquire if this liberty has been rightly understood?
There is no such thing as a unique scientific vision, any more than there is a unique poetic vision. Science is a mosaic of partial and conflicting visions. But there is one common element in these visions. The common element is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture, Western or Eastern as the case may be. It is no more Western than it is Arab or Indian or Japanese or Chinese. Arabs and Indians and Japanese and Chinese had a big share in the development of modern science. And two thousand years earlier, the beginnings of science were as much Babylonian and Egyptian as Greek. One of the central facts about science is that it pays no attention to East and West and North and South and black and yellow and white. It belongs to everybody who is willing to make the effort to learn it.
Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure.
It must be observed at the outset, that the phenomenon we investigate — Universal History — belongs to the realm of Spirit. The term "World," includes both physical and psychical Nature. Physical Nature also plays its part in the World's History, — and attention will have to be paid to the fundamental natural relations thus involved. But Spirit, and the course of its development, is our substantial object.
Polling is merely an instrument for gauging public opinion. When a president or any other leader pays attention to poll results, he is, in effect, paying attention to the views of the people. Any other interpretation is nonsense.
We have been gradually brought to the pitch of imagining and framing our preliminary ideas of a federal world control of such things as communications, health, money, economic adjustments, and the suppression of crime. In all these material things we have begun to foresee the possibility of a world-wide network being woven between all men about the earth. So much of the World Peace has been brought into the range of -- what shall I call it? -- the general imagination. But I do not think we have yet given sufficient attention to the prior necessity, of linking together its mental organizations into a much closer accord than obtains at the present time. All these ideas of unifying mankind's affairs depend ultimately for their realization on mankind having a unified mind for the job. The want of such effective mental unification is the key to most of our present frustrations. While men's minds are still confused, their social and political relations will remain in confusion, however great the forces that are grinding them against each other and however tragic and monstrous the consequences.
When we pay attention to nature's music, we find that everything on the Earth contributes to its harmony.
I look upon paradoxes as the impotent efforts of men who, not having capacity to draw attention and celebrity from good sense, fly to eccentricities to make themselves noted.
Fear must exist as long as there is an urge to be or to become, which is the pursuit of success, with all its frustrations and tortuous contradictions. You can teach concentration, but attention cannot be taught, just as you cannot possibly teach freedom from fear, and in understanding these causes there is the elimination of fear.
The guru cannot awaken you; all that he can do is to point out what is. Truth is not a thing that can be caught by the mind. The guru can give you words; he can give you an explanation, the symbols of the mind, but the symbol is not the real, and if you are caught in the symbol, you will never find the way. Therefore, that which is important is not the teacher, it is not the symbol, it is not the explanation, but it is you who are seeking truth. To seek rightly is to give attention, not to God, not to truth, because you don't know it, but attention to the problem of your relationship with your wife, your children, your neighbor. When you establish right relationship then you love truth, for truth is not a thing that can be bought, truth does not come into being through self-immolation or through the repetition of mantras. Truth comes into being only when there is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge brings understanding, and when there is understanding, there are no problems.
To be lonely, that is to feel oneself isolated, having no relationship with anything; in that sense of loneliness there is despair - there are moods, one is familiar with that sense of loneliness - and one runs away from it by turning on the radio, by reading a book, by sex and ten different activities. That loneliness is the very essence of self-consciousness. And when one goes beyond that, there is this state of attention in which there is complete aloneness, which is not isolation, which is not separation, which is not a withdrawal. Because it is only this aloneness, when the mind is no longer a plaything of thought, when thought has been understood totally - then out of that comes this sense of aloneness. it is that which is innocence, and it is that innocence which is beyond all mortality.
Meditation is not something that you practise for an hour or ten minutes and the rest of the day do your mischief. Meditation is the whole of life and that is the beauty of meditation, it is not something set aside, it covers and enters into all our activities and to all our thoughts and feelings. So it is not something that you practise or give attention to once a day or three times a day or ten times a day and the rest of the day live a life that is shoddy, neurotic, mischievous, violent
One has to be choicelessly attentive, fully aware; and this state of choiceless attention is meditation.
Self-knowledge is not something acquired from a book or from a guru or teacher. Self-knowledge begins in understanding oneself from moment to moment, and that understanding requires one's full attention to be given to each thought at any particular moment without an end in view, because there cannot be complete attention when there is condemnation or justification.