Heart Felt Attention


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Heart-Felt
Attention

A Talk given, by
Bubba Free John on May 30, 1976

“the breath is the instrument
whereby the heart and the body and the mind are linked to
the Presence”


DEVOTEE: Is heart-felt attention
something you can do? At. times my attention will drift, and
then I can return into service by centering in the heart. Is
this a valid practice?:

BUBBA: It is not a matter of
centering. The mind could put its attention on the heart,
but this practice is not a matter of attention on the heart,
Heartfelt attention is attention from the heart. It is to
return to feeling- the Presence e from the heart.

It is not a matter of directing the
mind toward the center of, from body or the region o the
heart itself, as if you are trying to get into your insides
or to locate your mind in the heart. Mind must become that
attention, the heart must become that attention, the body
must become that attention to the Presence. It is not a
matter of going within.

The process of spiritual-practice
is not fundamentally a matter of inwardness. It is a matter
of making your functions available as attention to the
Divine, which is all-pervading and which is not in your
body. The little technique that you just described is a
conventional one, a notion of centering, of doing something
for yourself. Whereas you must simply be present from the
heart. Only in that case, only if you are feeling the
Presence from the heart, are you alive in. God.

If you are putting the mind in the
heart, you are still separate. You are not living in such a
Presence. You are inward-turned in that case. Heart-felt
attention is return to the position of feeling. You cannot
feel from here (pointing to the head). It is
impossible.

DEVOTEE: It seems that thoughts and
obsessive mentalizing can be dropped. Is that something you
can actually do?

BUBBA: Yes, absolutely. You must do
it! One when understanding is made you are your actions no
longer a matter of strategic effort The ordinariness of
effort and intention must be part of your discipline until
you realize the true significance of your own activity. In
this stage of practice you must do it and your doing is a
response to the Presence, to that Divine nature that you
have begun to feel.

The Presence may not be known
independent of feeling. You cannot think about the Presence.
Thought is itself a form of tension, a contraction. When the
mind is occupied in thinking, it is no longer-occupied in
attention. So the mind must become attention to the Divine
through the Name of God. And the heart must come attention
to the Divine through feeling. And the body must also become
attention to the Presence.

Thus the breath is the instrument
whereby the heart and the body and the mind are linked to
the Presence. All the normal functions of your natural life,
your gross life, your ordinary human life, are turned to the
Presence through felt attention and the breath.

It takes a while to adapt to the
process. It is an artful realization, not a technique that
you put together in a weekend. Therefore you must adapt to
as process a bit at a time, adapt your life to it, adapt the
body to it, and adapt the heart, the feeling life to it,
adapt the breath to it, adapt the mind to it a bit at a
time. And that adaptation depends on maturing in devotion.
You must find me first. You must find the Divine Presence.
You must find the Company of Divine Communion. That
discovery develops through the natural sensitivity that
should be there when you have begun to turn out of your
ordinary karmic life.

People cannot take up the practice
of real or spiritual life until they have begun to turn from
their ordinary life, from the ordinary random fulfillment of
all the complex desires that they were born to realize. You
were not born to realize God. You did not have to come here
to realize God or to realize the Truth. You were born to
satisfy yourself. And you have an endless number of possible
desires, some of which even look spiritual or at least
conventionally psychic.

Only when the mere desiring life
has begun to reveal its essential quality is suffering,
obsession, mystery, stupidity, unconsciousness only when you
have begun to turn away from your desiring life and to
become revolted by it will you begin to practice spiritual
life truly. That revulsion carries with it the sense that
that will make you aware of the Divine Presence.

In the first level of the
transforming, preparatory life in the Way of Divine
Communion the devotee takes on lawful conditions of life and
realizes them as service to God, ultimately realizing his
entire life of action as such service. The devotee first
takes on the practical conditions and studies the Teaching
relative to heart-felt attention to the Divine Presence.
Over time these disciplines become service to the Divine, in
which the Divine is known literally as a Presence. When that
realization has begun to appear, then the practice of the
recollection of the Divine through the Name of God and the
practice of receiving and releasing with the process of
breath may be taken up. These spiritual disciplines are a
matter of maintaining the mind as felt attention to the
Presence of God rather than allowing the mind to wander off
distracted.

Thus the devotional life is
constant attention to the Divine Presence, and
participation, through real functional activity, in that
Presence. It is a constant test of the born life, because
the born life wants to randomly fulfill its conflicting
tendencies or desires. The conscious life or the life of
spiritual discipline wants to remain in God. Therefore, the
Way of Divine Communion is a trial between these two
motives.

Once the being has become steady in
its natural attention to the Divine and the conflicting
desires or motivations have weakened, then the higher life
of practice, which depends on that prior, commitment and
insight, can begin. And when the devotee has artfully
adapted to the conditions and responsibilities of the higher
stage, then the life at that stage is also fundamentally
very simple

What may seem by description to be
somewhat complicated (although’, think it is fairly simple)
is realized as a natural constant enjoyment and process from
moment to moment. In every moment the mind is attention to
the Presence. In every moment the being breathes in that
Presence, accepting it as the Reality and the transforming
Power, and releasing all conditions to it. Every moment is
service through the body to the Divine. Then the individual
is truly humanized, moved out of the mere born condition
into intuitive enjoyment of the prior Reality. Ultimately
the devotee realizes his identity with that prior
Reality.

But first you must realize your
participation in that Reality and become liberated from your
commitment to your born possibilities. That process is a
trial, a time of testing, because the devotee’s inclination
is not simply toward God-Realization. He may fundamentally
be ready for spiritual practice, but his life is committed
to all kinds of worldly and conventional realization. The
beginning stage of practice, therefore, is a time of coming
and going and up and down and success and failure. Thus in
the initial stage it is the responsibility of the individual
to live the life disciplines, and the place where he lives
it is the world, All the drama, all the up and down and
coming and going and success and failure, must have the
world scene in which to develop. Although the individual at
this stage is not committed to the world, still he lives
within the framework of ordinary conventional desiring. And
in the theatre of the world he is tested whether he will
maintain his commitment to his born possibilities or,
maintain his commitment to the Divine and to the Divine
Process.

Assuming the practical conditions
of life is not a negatively serious affair. It is actually a
way of abandoning seriousness. Commitment to the gross,
desiring life, to the most arbitrary life’ of conflict-that
is serious. To be free of those conditions of life, to be
able to live with one another with energy, to be constantly,
alive in the Divine Process which is the undoing of mind,
mental conflict, emotional conflict, conflicts through
action-is a humorous, delighted, celebrated state of
existence. Thus the seriousness implied in assuming such
disciplines is not true unless you are basically committed
to those things in themselves.

As soon as you are free of them,
practical disciplines are not really disciplines any longer.
They are part of your enjoyment. It is as if you wake up in
the morning and you have the condition of not hitting
yourself over the head with a hammer in the bathroom. You
come out smiling! All the secret little rituals of life that
make life conflict and failure and suffering are eliminated
in a life of disciplines.

You must, in the midst of this
spiritual process, discover what is really pleasurable, and
if you truly yield your life through the practical and
spiritual processes that are given in this Way, then a kind
of intoxication begins` to acquire you, an apparent
irrationality that is supremely enjoyable.

It is enjoyable only if you yield
to it completely, however. If you maintain your commitment
to little secret aspects of your possibilities, then you
will be depressed. But if you fulfill the obligations of
your practice completely, you will be intoxicated with the
Divine Presence.