“The next position is always the best position” by Pier Luigi Lattuada
From the time of Heraclitus, who left us the famous concept of panta rei, everything flows, from the Buddhist vision of the interconnectedness of all things, to the laws of thermodynamics, to the most recent acquisitions of field and quantum consciousness, it seems obvious that life is an ongoing flow.
This is a fact, hard to refute, which brings everyone together, mystics, scientists, experts and ordinary people.
All we agree but we didn’t behave accordingly, our system of thinking is built likeness of a static world, founded on immovable certainties, stable bricks, situations made to last, the culture that we hand down through the channels of communication is filled with values, beliefs and conditioning focused on the search for stability and security, politics and economics yearn for security and stability, the language is full of control-oriented terms.
As a result, our dominant moods are punctuated by codes of emergency, worry and fear and we behave accordingly, the world is a threatening place to control, to defend against, the dominant rhetoric is that of war, fight, struggle, win, succeed.
We are thus caught in a vicious circle, a system of thinking based on control, a language built on security and stability creates a dangerous world out there from which to defend ourselves, everything flows but we act as if every change is threatening, every new thing suspicious.
The ordinary mind, that is, our habitual way of thinking is so adept at forming ideas of the world that it sticks to them and resists all change.
The result is that the mind itself turns from an ally into an enemy, consigning us to a life determined by habits, beliefs and attachments, as if we were always wearing a mask, playing a part, confusing the character with the actor.
The characters that inhabit us live experiences determined by a script despite the fact that the actor might flow through life.
At this point we could identify two categories of people those who agree that we are all playing a part and those who deny it.
Among those who agree, some decide to embark on a journey of awakening.
In times of globalisation in the information age, countless avenues open up to the traveller: psychotherapy, Indian gurus, mystical religions, meditative practices, martial arts, traditional ceremonies, master plants, breathing, sacred dances, yoga and so on.
The problem is that whatever awakening technology one wishes to employ, it will always produce a gap between real life and dedicated moments to practice.
It will give us good experiences but it will not necessarily change the way we experience.
We may continue to sleep for a good part of the day, to awaken in the meditation room or on the psychotherapist’s couch; we may continue to wear the mask in daily life to take it off in self-help groups, human potential development, or perhaps in church in the presence of our God.
The things we do change but the way we deal with them does not.
The explanation is simple, the things are obvious, the way (the mode) is not. That is why we must pay attention, that is the key: attention.
If it is true that everything flows, everything transforms, everything points to another, even every habit, every belief, every attachment opens doors for us, beyond itself. If we pay attention, we can grasp the worlds that want to point us out: the next position is always the best.
I suggest we consider a first attention, the first glance cast on things, the one that grasps ordinary reality, and a second attention, more in-depth, precise, that we can develop by being careful to look beyond what appears. This game between first and second attention can take place at any time and be repeated endlessly. There is always a second attention to a first, a further mode that grasps what was hidden, unseen: the next position is always the best.
Second attention is our medicine for awakening, the playing field is everyday life, the opportunity is in the things that happen to us, none excluded.
Let’s look at a few examples:
E-mails are now part of our everyday life, as is lack of time.
As a result, in first attention we read hastily, we divide e-mails into priority or non-priority according to the value we give to its sender, we answer superficially and only to the less critical issues, we set aside the uncomfortable ones.
Activating the second attention we may realise that behind those words written on a screen there is a person who wants to communicate a message, share himself, bring a request, express a need to be heard and understood and who deserves respect.
Here then is our attitude completely changed, without effort or necessary adherence to good morals, here is a different, broader gaze, capable of grasping beyond appearances, opens us up to a more authentic relationship in which we can offer the best of ourselves, our most genuinely human qualities such as listening, empathy, compassion, availability, acceptance, understanding, and so on.
It seems that most of humanity now lives sedentary lives. We sit to work at our desks, we sit to watch television, to eat or converse with friends, we stretch out in an armchair to rest or listen to music.
The first attention tends to take for granted the rest or support it offers us, functional to the action we want to perform. Sitting is simply a habit.
By activating the second attention we might realise that under the chair is the floor and that under the floor is the earth and that the earth is an elemental force, a principle rich in qualities and functions. We might thus grasp its sacredness, recognising it as, for example, the archetype of the Great Mother, the Goddess of fertility, feeling welcomed and nourished.
The ordinary experience of sitting then expands, characterising it as an intimate moment of contact with the power of the earth and all its qualities: nourishment, acceptance, compassion, unconditional love, patience, surrender, humility, among others.
Moving around in the car is another one of those established habits to which we dedicate ourselves automatically and which often causes us tension and irritation when we are in first attention.
Accessing second attention could instead open up a world of riches and opportunities for us.
We need only consider, for example, how laborious it was until less than a century ago for mankind to move from place to place, easily a sense of gratitude would then arise within us that could take the place of a sense of annoyance at the traffic.
We might also recognise how the simple act of stepping on the accelerator and progressing along the path is the result of a complexity of interconnected factors dating back millions of years, thanks to the decomposition of marine organisms and plants growing on the ocean floor.
Or realise the gift that mother earth has given us with the metal that makes up the vehicle.
Our journey through traffic could thus take on more spiritual and meaningful contours.
How can we conclude by leaving out the mother of all gifts that life offers us, breath.
In first attention, we spend our lives attentive to everything else, breath seems taken for granted, due, except when we miss it, and then it may be too late.
In second attention, we can easily recognise the blessing of the breath of life that flows through us, staying in touch with it, respecting it, letting it flow freely, honouring it as a gift that is renewed every moment.
We can thus recognise it as the medicine of medicines, the master of masters, who renews his warning, leave everything and follow me. The master of masters if followed shows us the law, everything flows, in every moment two becomes one, act accordingly.
– Pier Luigi Lattuada