To take the one seat in the center is to commit to meditation as your central spiritual practice. Kornfield warns against the practice of trying many different spiritual practices which move you left and right, forward and backward without ever drilling deep into the depths of your being. In this blog post, rather than, re-capping the chapter, which I hope you read, or recapping my audio comments, to which I hope you listen, I am bringing in another Buddhist book I often recommend — Wake Up to your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention by Ken McLeod.
In Chapter 3, “Cultivating Attention”, McLeod describes in great detail the practice of attention which is a critical precursor to meditation¹. McLeod distinguishes two types of attention: active and passive. He wrote,
When an experience absorbs emotional energy, whether the experience is a flower, a thought, a feeling, or a belief, attention goes passive and we are less present with what’s going on. Emotional energy shifts to a lower level. We are, in effect, passive participants in the experience.
In contrast, active attention occurs, “when attention remains directed at an object and there is a shift in clarity and vividness.” He goes on to say,
Active attention is volitional, stable, and inclusive. We choose to direct attention; we aren’t simply reacting to stimulus. Active attention is not disrupted by sounds, thoughts, sights, or other events in our experience…. Because active attention is not disrupted by habitual patterns, the more we live in attention, the less we fall victim to the reactive processes that are operating us.
With out further adieu, here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 3, Take the One Seat!
¹ In the audio portion of this blog Lucia René in Unplugging the Patriarchy: A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age tells us the practice of attention (or concentration) precedes the experience of meditation.