alternate path to heightened awareness
This post is a comparison of CC’s heightened awareness and second attention with Gurdjieff’s self-remembering. I can’t say for certain if they are the same, but they certainly share some characteristic traits. Let me know what you think, but do try the exercise for self-remembering first. I’m not as interested in mental speculations (but if you see some obvious discrepency, feel free to point it out). Otherwise, if you have some familiarity with both s-r and h.a., let me know what your experience is.
For one, both entail a loss of ‘normal’ memory.
Two – both achieve a lucidity of sorts.
Three is somewhat speculative. I don’t recall if CC explained why the first att is called the first and the second att is called the second… the first attention is not the first attention that we encounter in our lives. When we are born, we still remain undomesticated and non-language-minded (?), we don’t talk to ourselves and we haven’t yet formulated an “I” as a doer. The first attention that we encounter is the second attention. Of course this assumes birth as a beginning point, which is relative.
Anyway, I had my own idea why they could be called the first and second. In Gurdjieff’s teachings (and in advaita/non-duality) our “ordinary” attention encompasses, or is aware of, only one point at a time. For example, if we are having a conversation with someone (in the first att) our attention becomes absorbed in either what they (the object) are saying or we get absorbed in our own heads, our own internal world of thoughts/mind (as the pseudo-subject).
hi-tech schematics: 😉
self ————> other
self <------------ other The arrow represents the direction of the self's attention. In self-remembering an effort is made to maintain a portion of attention towards self (mainly through awareness of sensory perceptions - that it is you who are seeing, hearing, touching… incorporate smell and taste later when you become more adept at it… basically remain aware that “I am” or “I am present as this body”) while directing a portion towards the other (that which you are looking at and listening to – the external world, your environment). In this way the arrow of attention is directed to two different points simultaneously:
self <------------> other
Try it while reading the above again – read the words while simultaneously being aware that “I am”. Feel your feet on the floor, your hands against whatever they are placed on, hear the hum of the computer and whatever other sounds may be present, feel any tension in your body… get grounded IN your body… and remain so as you read these words.
Once you finish reading, you may pop back into uni-directional attention, and you may notice you don’t quite remember what you just read, because you read it with your intuitive level engaged as well as your intellect. This is something like what CC describes as his experience in heightened awareness. But this is a small taste, a beginning. In true self-remembering, you’ll forget yourself totally. You’ll be splitting your attention towards self and other simultaneously, as you’ve practiced many times before, and then suddenly… you’ll become aware that you are neither the first or second point, but a third point witnessing the other two. That will be the true self-remembering.
Try it while taking a walk. If you’re successful, you’ll find yourself “coming to” or “waking up” back into “ordinary” awareness and you won’t remember how you got there; that is, you won’t recall the walking in time and distance from the moment you enter self-remembering to the moment you pop out of it. Very disorienting for the identity!
As far as I’m aware, there is still something watching out for my body or looking over it, taking care of it. But you may not want to take this walk near traffic for the first few times, until you feel safe with it.
So maybe this is why its first attention (one direction of attention) and second attention (two directions). Maybe not. It’s still fun. Ultimately, we probably can’t say if it’s CC’s heightened awareness unless we’ve been slapped on the A.P. by a nagual. But, like I said, there are definite common characteristics. So you might want to incorporate self-remembering into your practices. But know beforehand, as with all warrior-seer techniques, this will bring your world down. Expect that your personal identity will crumble the more you enter any attention other than the one-directional, absorbed, “identified” attention.