The Force of Attention by William Segal
Parabola, Volume 15:2, pp. 332-333

Attention is the quintessential medium to reveal man's dormant energies to himself. Whenever one witnesses the state of the body, the interplay of thought and feeling, there is an intimation, however slight of another current of energy. Through the simple act of attending, one initiates a new alignment of forces.

Maintenance of a conscious attention is not easy. The movement, the obligations of day-to-day existence, completely distract. With no base of operations no home in one's organism, the attention serves random thoughts, feelings, and appetites that conflict and tyrannize each other.

Sensation of parts or the whole of the body can anchor the attention, provide it with a kind of habitat. The structure, becoming more sensitive, helps to unify attention, so it is is less liable to ver into mental channels that consume its power. In turn, perceptions and sensations are quickened, insights are multiplied.

Opening to the force of attention evokes a sense of wholeness and equilibrium. One can glimpse a possibility of a state of awareness immeasurably superior to that of the reactive mechanism, an awareness that transcends one's automatic subject/object mode of response.

Freely flowing, the concentrative, transforming effect of conscious attention brings the disparate tempos of the centers to a relatively balanced relationship. Thought, feeling, and sensation are equilibrated under this vibrant, harmonizing influence.

Attention is an independent force that will not be manipulated by one's parts. Cleared of all internal noise, conscious attention is an instrument that vibrates like a crystal at its own frequency. It is free to receive the signals broadcast at each momement from a creative universe in communication with all creatures.

However, the attention is not "mine." In a moment of its presence, one knows that it does not originate entirely with oneself. Its source surrounded by mystery, attention communicates energies of a quality the mind cannot represent. One needs to be at the service of conscious attention; one prepares for its advent through active stillness.

In quite, tension-free moments, man's structure is open to energy flows that are ordinarily blocked. In turn, these energies blend with previously received materials, to serve the higher in a wordless, nameless exchange.

Attention is not only meditating; it is transmitting. Giving and receiving, God speaks to man. Receiving and giving, man speaks to God. Just as mans' structure needs to be vivified by the infusion of finer vibrations, those very same vibrations require the mixing of coarse material for their maintenance. Without the upward transmission of energies through the intermediary of conscious attention, the universe would give int to entropy.

In man, the smallest deformation of a balanced attention closes down this two-way communication. Alone, the mind cannot maintainf it. A relaxed body, too, is needed.

Midway between micro and macrocosmos, man has his part to play. Returning to the boy is a gesture of opening to the attention which, beckoned, is ready to serve its cosmological function.

From William Segal, The Structure of Man (Brattleboro, Vermont: Green River Press, Stillgate Publishers, 1987)

Mass on the World
Pierre Teilhard De Chardin: Writings
Edited by Ursula King
Pages 80-81

“Since once again, Lord — though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia — I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.

Over there, on the horizon, the sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail. I will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of labour. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the earth’s fruits.

My paten and my chalice are the depths of a soul laid widely open to all the forces which in a moment will rise up from every corner of the earth and converge upon the Spirit. Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.

One by one, Lord, I see and I love all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life. One by one also I number all those who make up that other beloved family which has gradually surrounded me, its unity fashioned out of the most disparate elements, with affinities of the heart, of scientific research and of thought. And again one by one — more vaguely it is true, yet all-inclusively — I call before me the whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them; those who come, and those who go; above all, those who in office, laboratory and factory, through their vision of truth or despite their error, truly believe in the progress of earthly reality and who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.

This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us; this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm: it is to this deep that I thus desire all the fibres of my being should respond. All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering. This is the material of my sacrifice; the only material you desire.

Once upon a time men took into your temple the first fruits of their harvests, the flower of their flocks. But the offering you really want, the offering you mysteriously need every day to appease your hunger, to slake your thirst is nothing less than the growth of the world borne ever onwards in the stream of universal becoming.

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day.

This bread, our toil, is of itself, I know, but an immense fragmentation; this wine, our pain, is no more, I know, than a draught that dissolves. Yet in the very depths of this formless mass you have implanted — and this I am sure of, for I sense it — a desire, irresistible, hallowing, which makes us cry out, believer and unbeliever alike:

‘Lord, make us one.’”

Essence, Peter Kater