Notes on The Next Attention

The Next Attention

For many summers in the Swiss alpine village of Chandolin, Dr. Michel de Salzmann met with people interested in the Gurdjieff Work, a teaching for awakening in the midst of daily life. Seeing objectively, being present, “related to an energy”—all are prominent themes in these 78 recollected talks to groups from around the world.

Shaw writes in the Preface, “The intention is to take the reader to Chandolin to hear Michel and experience what some of us heard and try to live: this bringing together of awakened consciousness and our everyday selves.”

Dr. de Salzmann, who directed the Gurdjieff institutes worldwide from 1991-2001, clarifies the process of waking up by making a distinction between something one does and something one receives. He speaks of a subtle energy, a finer Attention, that is both sacred and accessible. “We are in a process to come under another influence. There is ‘my’ attention, that runs up the mountain, sees obstacles, does this or that. If it is ‘my’ attention, it is not this other Attention, which transforms.”

This other Attention is the subject of this book.

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EXCERPTS FROM MICHEL DE SALZMANN’S TALKS

Perhaps there is no inclination to turn inward. Let it be. Just watch. The power of attention more and more can fill the body. Everything we need is here in us. Everything for fuller being. There is a kind of sacred descent of attention that can bring this about. Seeing the obstacles, thoughts, feelings, yes, perhaps a pressure that keeps me from it. But if I can relax inside, just allow the pure attention to flow in, be in that. Very natural. It’s what we are. When the attention is with this other energy permeating me, very concentrated yet very light, free, wishing nothing, needing nothing, everything opens to this: the head, the heart. The only discovery is this energy. When this energy is there and I am sure of it, aware of it moment by moment, I begin to be.

Once you have a taste of the relation with this energy, you begin to see what is unnecessary and let it go. Not to let the mind go here and there, now, out of respect for this energy, for attending to it. It is your fundamental activity. If the mind starts to think about this or that–not necessary now–let it go. Out of respect for this energy, you come back. You are attracted there. In this work, first it is necessary to become balanced in all parts. Sensing the body, and the feelings join, and the mind. Balanced for a moment, the force equally in all parts. This is normal man. And then, one can become conscious of one’s functions. It is a training. Our functions are our companions. They need to be educated. The mind is like a dog–always chewing on a bone–very short thoughts, one after the other. But it can be trained, so that you can come back to this axis in you, this centeredness, so you can be. And the feelings, too. So there is a reaction. I allow it to be but at the same time come back to this centeredness. What is this reaction? Is it important? And perhaps I see that it is nothing–fear of this or wishing for that. But the primary thing is this relation with an energy.

Attention: a sacred energy coming into me. Be sensitive to it. Recognize again and again that it is there.

PRAISE FOR NOTES ON THE NEXT ATTENTION

 

“Absolutely terrific…. A book, if you will, outside the realm of books. It carries the authentic flavor of inner work as it is practiced today. There is a tangible intimation of the sacred in every passage. I very highly recommend this book to all readers.”

–Lee van Laer, zenyogagurdjieffblogspot

“Every morning I have been reading just one of these short talks aloud to a friend or listening to one of them read aloud to me. Every morning I fall in love. These pages have become my teacher. If you give each page your best attention—better still, share it with friends—it can lead you to another way of living.”

–Martha Heyneman, author of The Breathing Cathedral