Radiant Attention (Shared Attention Is Telepathic)
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The shared attention between parents and children, between all of us really, I maintain, is telepathic. Recall Rupert Sheldrake’s studies on feeling watched and with animals. The question, of course, is the degree that we are sensitive and attentive to this subtle radiant communication. Sadly, mostly we are not which leaves our young children, who are innately sensitive and aware, stranded and disconnected.
I admit that my reference for this claim is uncommon. You see, I have had the wonderful experience of knowing, traveling, interviewing and observing J. Krishnamurti for over a decade and for the past thirty five years directing and editing various programs exploring his insights. At the heart of this is what he called a ‘silent mind.’ That is, a mind and therefore body and emotions that are not constantly churning with electrochemical babble. Carly Elizabeth lives in this silent state but I do not. What does that say about our relationship?
Imagine sitting quietly on a park bench and a man or woman incessantly chattering to themselves in an unknown language sits beside to you. You can feel their agitation, their body almost trembling with the ebb and flow of their self-induced jabber. Are they mad? How related would you feel? Without subtle and near constant telepathic attunement this is how we often appear to our young children and pets.
It is easy to experience this. Our stupiding technologies create this disconnect along with our self-absorbed, often distracting, incoherent thoughts. Here you are, having tea, deeply engaged with a close friend and the ‘text-bing’ chimes on their dumb-phone. He or she compulsively, like Pavlov’s dog, salivates as they pet their most trusted acquaintance. With two hands now, thumbs flying, they pound away some urgent message leaving you stranded, your shared meaning and telepathic atonement shattered. Can you imagine a more dramatic example of attention deficit? And they don’t even notice it took place. Imagine now that this simple example is what Joseph Chilton Pearce calls the ‘model imperative’ for evolution’s next great effort – our children.
I am deeply involved in a new book project exploring the resonance between Krishnamurti’s silent mind and Buddhist practices based on several years and over sixteen hours of candid conversations with the first Prime Minister of Tibet in exile who is one of the Dalai Lama’s closest advisors. Gathering attention is the first prerequisite for enlightenment, enlightenment meaning having a mind, body and emotions that are truly clear and sane, not distorted, confused, anxious and distracted. If one can gather and hold one’s attention without distraction or falling asleep for four hours they have earned the right to move on to the next challenge, that of using this attention combined with rational thought to dissolve all the fantasies and illusions that what we call normal thinking creates. With this new standard let’s return to the model imperative we and our dulling technologies are presenting to our children.
Krishnamurti observed that thinking dulls our being present and aware, dulls our telepathic attunement with our children and everything else. Strap dumb-technologies to our forehead and this dullingness compounds ten to the tenth. Lost in a flood of distracted dullness we sit on the bench with our children and don’t even notice what we and they have lost. Far better to take our cues from our young children and rediscover who we really are.