The Listening Attention
Here’s a link to a video in which my friend Bob Fergeson speaks about a dimension within us which he calls The Listening Attention. This is followed by an excerpt from a book on the teachings of Karlfried Graf Durckheim, which highlights the qualities of The Listening Attention but using the term our “Essential Being”
THE NOTION OF ESSENTIAL BEING by Pierre Erny
There is a central notion in the thought of Graf Durckheim: that of “essential being”. It can be presented in six propositions:
1. Our individuality as it is formed by hereditary transmission and influences from our environment, education and history, does not explain the being whom we are. In other words, we cannot be reduced to what we have become during the course of our life, to our existential self, which our biography describes. This self certainly has its own reality, but does not exhaust our reality. “Man goes beyond man.” said Pascal.
2. Beyond our biological and psychological make-up, beyond our body and our soul, we carry within us the possibility of tuning into a reality of an entirely different order and to access a level of existence and of action which infinitely transcends our ordinary experience.
3. This transcendent dimension which goes beyond our biological–psychological–sociological self, is not merely added to our being like a free gift which is accidental and supernatural. It is inherent, immanent, essential. We are this dimension in the strongest sense of the term, stronger even than when we say that we “are” our body and our psyche. This dimension constitutes that which is most fundamental, most specific, most original, most permanent, most spontaneous, most free, most powerful within us. It acts within us as a principal of unity and cohesion. It plunges us, as of now, into eternity and situates the changing being which we are in time and space, simultaneously outside of time, space, and causality and their multiple conditionings and determinisms. It is this dimension which makes of us free persons, dressed in an absolute dignity, and not simple individuals; because of it, we can establish not only community, but communion.
4. This transcendent dimension of our being is not the product of a simple abstract metaphysical speculation. It can also become an object of experience which cannot be confused with any other, neither through its nature nor its intensity, nor through the feeling of fullness which accompanies it, nor by its transforming effects. It can be prepared by a technique or an asceticism, or take place spontaneously, freely, sometimes brutally, offered then as the most precious of gifts.
5. This vital experience, through which can live and be deployed by that which lives in us, that which is most essential and most profound, is only rarely realized or felt by our consciousness. The transcendent dimension of our being which is its support represents a kind of paradise lost which we must find again. It appears to us as eminently fragile and is usually made esoteric, repressed, covered up, submerged, reduced to silence and to powerlessness by the products, agitations, and uprises of our mental life. As our inner cinema takes up all the room and makes too much noise, we are dissociated, cut off from our deepest and most transcendent roots. This obviously does not mean that on the ontological level, this dimension of our being is no longer present and active within us. But it is so in a purely underground manner, without our conscious realization, and consequently without occupying its rightful place, without allowing it to re-establish balance and to introduce in our human experience enough to fertilize, vivify, illuminate from the interior, and transfigure it. It is always there, otherwise we would not be human, but hidden as though asleep. A part of us then disintegrates. We are beings who do not fully live, who limp along and cannot go very far, birds with only one wing turning in circles, ships which are not capable of deploying all their sails.
6. To call forth this transcendental experience, we must awaken or reawaken the dimension of our being, we might say the organ, which makes it possible. It must explode within us and break through the superficial crust of our conditioning. We can cultivate it, care for it, fortify it, not for itself because due to its transcendence we have no claim on it, but by getting rid of all that inhibits this eruption and manifestation. That which is an obstacle must “die” before being able to be reborn in a new form. In the hole we have just dug, this beyond within lives in our most intimate place and can now deploy itself and make us live on a level of which human beings generally know nothing.
Alphonse; Goettmann, Rachel (2009-10-01). Becoming Real: Essays on the Teachings of a Master (Kindle Locations 1372-1387). Nottingham Publishing. Kindle Edition.