A T T E N T I V E N E S S
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, October 4, 2005
Urusvati knows that attentiveness is one of the first conditions for successfully conducting experiments with psychic energy. People often speak about their striving, keenness, or vigilance, but they ignore the simplest trait, attentiveness. For them, the phrase “to live in danger” is understood in an absurd way. It is true that an expanded consciousness brings with it natural attentiveness, but there are not many such consciousnesses.
It is fortunate that attentiveness can be developed, but it must be cultivated early, in the family and in school. The attention of schoolchildren must be directed not only to major events, but also to the smallest details of everyday life. The Subtle World manifests itself first of all in one’s daily life. The most valued traits of the spirit can be perceived amidst everyday routine. Let us not regard as heroes only those who strive for the welfare of humanity, but let us pay due attention also to those who perform daily, ordinary labor. Attentive observation of these people will reveal many manifestations of natural psychic energy.
When We speak about the Subtle World, We must also include the subtlest energies. These energies should be observed in real life. One should not think that miraculous powers can be found only elsewhere; they are ready to manifest in every individual, but they can be discerned only through attentiveness. And We offer this attentiveness in everyday life to all who want to think about the Supermundane World. Do not assume that such an exercise is an easy one; it requires steadfastness—a quality that few people possess. They are too often eager to fly in their fantasies to the far-off worlds, speeding through space without effect. And We advise, amidst the routine of daily life, to learn beautiful attentiveness. Let it grow from the earliest years.
The Thinker said, “Look under your own feet, or you will stumble.”
Supermundane IV, 730.
Attentiveness helps one to take note of many external influences, but even this striving is developed by long experience.
I welcome very much the method which is being used for developing attentiveness among children. It is very good to use art gallery pictures for this purpose. So much can be seen in these treasures of art. Attentiveness is a foundation for accumulating knowledge. Attentiveness is a first step in the refinement of receptivity, and we know that only refinement gives broadening of consciousness and that creative power is affirmed by the centers of fine receptivity. The finer, the higher; the higher, the more powerful! Nothing holds back evolution so much as coarseness of receptivity!
Letters Of Helena Roerich I, 3 December 1930.
…memory is primarily attentiveness.
Letters Of Helena Roerich II, 19 April 1938.
The Blessed Buddha once said to His pupils, “Let us sit in silence and let our eyes behold.”
After a while the Teacher asked, “How many times did I change my position?” One noticed ten changes, another only three, and another insisted that the Teacher had remained still.
The Lord of Wisdom smiled, “I changed my position and the folds of my garment seventy-seven times. As long as we do not learn to see clearly we shall not become Arhats.”
For a true understanding of psychic energy, one must first develop attentiveness. It is useful, therefore, for the teacher to ask unexpected questions, to request descriptions of occurrences, and to require the keeping of daily notes. It is known that even a very sluggish attentiveness will awaken through such exercising. The inattentive, the unobservant, cannot even notice the development of psychic energy. The advice to observe is the advice of a friend, for the future demands attentiveness.
Agni Yoga, 551.
Attentiveness can be tested in a simple way. Move an object to a new place; if it remains unnoticed, do the same with a larger object and observe what “elephant” finally attracts the “sharp” eye. Test yourself and others. Test for fear, for irritation, and for laziness—and for all failings that cause the litmus paper to blush with shame. There is no need of complicated invocations, since simple attentiveness moves one many steps further. Thus one should begin to develop the “eagle-eye.”
One yogi gained the reputation of being a practical joker because unnoticeably he moved various objects in people’s houses, and when asked why, answered, “I am checking to see if you have become blind.” Truly, there are few who notice changes in their surroundings. But the first sign of an “eagle-eye” is the ability to notice the smallest changes, since on them depends the vibration of the whole.
Agni Yoga, 651.
Some may wonder why the signs from the Subtle World are so strange and why they require pondering and interpretation. The reason for this is the law of Karma. Precisely reflection and explication stimulate self-activity, and, thus, they lighten and even do not produce Karma. Consequently, the stronger the attentiveness and resourcefulness, the more easily interpreted are the given signs. The Lofty Beings do wish to give hints toward a great many things, but the mental distraction of people prevents these precious Counsels from reaching them. Not only in sendings from the Subtle World but also in earthly existence, parables have been adopted, as a means of indirect indication. But history sets forth many instances of non-acceptance of the most urgent counsels. Not without reason was attentiveness so developed in antiquity; it even constituted a study in itself. But nowadays not many understand the significance of vigilance; for others guidance is required in the sharpest, and repeated, instructions, which cannot but have an effect on Karma. But only the fiery heart will comprehend the hidden meaning of subtle signs. Let the co-workers grasp the fact that each sign has its destination. So many Lofty Beings send supplications and hope that they will be understood. There have been whole epochs when the subtle understanding was strengthened and sharpened, but later a bloody mist condensed anew, and the refined perceptions became coarse. Just now many attempts from the best Strata of the Subtle World are being rendered futile by the dark forces.
Fiery World II, 178.
The most complicated matter can be approached by the simplest path; the principle requisite is attentiveness. Even very experienced observers lose it amid common-placeness. But the Higher World requires love and gratitude. How otherwise is it possible to scan the subtle signs under incarnate conditions?
By acting attentively in their earthly relations, people will accustom themselves also to attentiveness in the Higher Service. Do not leave the questions of people unanswered. It is better to reply as briefly as possible than to leave behind the engendering of poison. It can be easily shown what poisonous fermentations are begun where there is no link.
One should learn to discriminate as to which thought is manifested from without, and which has been conceived within. Such discernment is familiar to each one who has been accustomed to watch his process of thinking. Such exercises upon oneself refine one’s attentiveness.
Of course, one’s attention should be intensified in order to observe the most subtle manifestations of the heart. But serious experiments also demand attention. Is it not better to become accustomed to attentiveness through one’s own heart? These experiments in attentiveness will not be in vain. Above all, they are fitting for the approach to the Subtle World. He who has once listened to his own heart does not see even any end of observations. Observations that are begun in the home will inevitably guide the consciousness of him who observes universally and will indicate the path to the highest worlds. Why write a multitude of formulas without desiring to apply them to life? Contact with the subtlest energies refines the entire being. He who has entered the fiery path understands the refinement, keenness, and vigilance of which I speak.
Urusvati knows the gift of divisibility of attention. Persistent intensification of the will can increase one’s ability to pay attention simultaneously to different objects. Do not think that such a gift is only inherent in some geniuses. Everyone, in the course of different existences, can develop the ability to keenly observe his surroundings and answer different questions. One can write letters to several people at once; thoughts can be sent to all parts of the world, simultaneously. This ability could be called the “threshold” of the spirit’s divisibility.
It is necessary, from one’s early school years, to develop attentiveness. This is needed for the Supermundane World. Without it the traveler will find himself surrounded by a great variety of new impressions and thus will lose the ability to assimilate them. Without having trained his attentiveness, he drowns in waves of unfamiliar vibrations and sinks into chaos.
It should not be thought that each new dweller in the Subtle World will at once be given a Guide. He must first find within himself the ability to understand mental guidance. True, the language of thought is the same for all, but anyone who has not developed this ability to think cannot achieve an understanding of such help. Therefore We advise you to not neglect thinking about the Supermundane World during your earthly days. Watchful attentiveness can reveal many things not perceptible to the ignorant.
The Thinker advised that one think every day about the future life and intensify attention to the far-off worlds.
Supermundane IV, 837.
When the ancients urged, “Know thyself,” they were primarily concerned with the development of the power of observation. This process is no mystery. People should simply become more attentive to their own nature and to their surroundings, and should realize that they are responsible for the quality of their projections. It is strange that the interval between sleep and awakening remains unnoticed. People read about the particular qualities of drowsiness. The ancient initiates knew how acutely perceptive one becomes during this state, but this knowledge remained only with the initiates, who alone could remember their experiences. The average person, absorbed in his work, had no time for such observation.
But now We once again call people to develop attentiveness and to observe the idiosyncrasies of their nature even during labor. One should learn to combine one's ability to work with the power of subtle perception. Such a synthesis will transform life.
Supermundane II, 353.