A mighty horn cries out into the distance, but all live in the deep valleys, where no sounds can be heard. How strange it is to suggest that, although we appear to listen, we clasp our ears tightly. When someone is talking, how often do we find that we are instead listening to our own thoughts and feelings rather than giving the other our full attention? A friend extols of some adventure he had in the morning or argues a point which he finds important. As his words come out one by one in sequence, a few are taken in but the rest are partly discarded. Our attention is distracted by our own thoughts and sentiments, urged by some inner impulse to create a response before even having ever truly listened to what was being said.
The emphasis is often sparing in the moment; our thoughts go to recall the past or formulate the future. A man’s intent is scattered and without focus, paying little respect to the fruits before him and the full flavour they impart. The details overflow with nuance and subtle shades which tell us much about the context of the situation. This character, his life, how the milieu of the surroundings affect his mood, and what his relationship is with you in particular, are all small fibers of a fabric woven quite deeply for the sake of being embraced in all its rich quality. There is indeed no computer simulation which could ever hope to bring together so much breadth of data as potentially vivid as this.
Our nature tempts us to focus on the length of life and not its width. We are prone to see the horizontal quite clearly, but the vertical we miss altogether. The meaning behind all of this is not to be vague or ambiguous, obscure or imprecise. but to create a sense of curiosity in what is lost when care and respect is offered in whole to something devoid of dimension. The vertical, for example, relates to how something is done, with attention paid not only to the reason but also the intent. A man tidies his desk at work for the reason that it is, perhaps, proper to do so, expected by his colleagues, or is a habit he was taught by his grandfather. Yet the intent can connect this one action to a philosophy he lives by irrespective of time and space; an iota of effort that weaves an action back to its greater purpose.
Left alone only with reasons for what we do, the quality of our attention can drop and degenerate to mere registering of words and facts. With the intent to be alive in this moment and to listen to this emotional being before us, we are able to pick up and digest the human being in greater wholeness and fulfill our desire to respect this moment and understand more about why it is all happening. The only way to do so and open ourselves to the vertical breadth and depth of the vertical aspect of this very moment is by stopping the flow of our thoughts. By sacrificing and letting go of attention to ourselves, we demonstrate commitment to the shades of meaning imbedded in the present. It is through intentionally forgetting, or shedding, the dead part of ourselves that we are made able to remember everything else anew.
If a man works on this muscle to stop himself and all his thoughts when laying his eyes and ears onto the sights of his surroundings, and the people at his doorstep, he in turn profits in the reverse way. For while he develops active passivity by allowing himself to soak into the layers of the world, this sensibility grows in all directions and brings to bear awareness of a new and fresh form when it is time for him to speak and share of himself. He will listen to the other and the world around him as he interacts with it and respond by dynamically changing himself to meet the needs of an ever shifting environment. What else is all of this then a change of emphasis from living dry and dismal, like a stagnant character in a second-rate piece of fiction, to that of a creature worthy of being called a human being.