Friday 4 April 2014

Focusing and seeking

They're not exactly the same, but related. When you're regarding what's in front of you, and trying to get clarity, moving from a blur to something you can grasp, that's more like focusing. When you're moving around erratically, trying to find a point of contact, something on which to focus, that's more like seeking.

There are those people who are ardent seekers. I used to be. I gave up. I came to my boundaries when my  friend of forty plus years died, and all the stabilities of my life were challenged. I found that nothing stable was left. I realized that all of myself is a collection of emotional and cognitive habits, all challengeable, all a matter of self-response based on nothing more that the moment's need. I was amazed at the trigger: both my parents had died, and I had not experienced this, I had gone through divorce, for which I had never been primed, not my register at all, and had not experienced this. 

Quite abruptly, I was utterly humbled by the terminality of my life.

I claim to be able to teach people how to focus, but the fact that I had not yet found what I sought made me re-think.

For me, it now works like this: if you have a question, you have words, if it's a quest, it's an evocative and emotional reaching out.

If you seek, you may have found something, and are still seeking, but why?

If you have sought, and have declared a choice, a finding, a finality, no doubt your experience holds, although your words may be premature, as is the case when you allow formal religion to word your deepest experiences for you.

When you seek, your attention moves perpetually, maybe erratically, maybe looking for something in particular to recognise.

When you focus, your seeking comes to rest, and you move towards clarity in respect of something in particular.

A spiritual coach may be able to help with seeking, a life coach more with focusing.

The more intense your seeking is, the less likely are you to able to focus on daily practicalia.

Intense seekers are likely to be emotionally distraught people who have been dislodged from stable experience.

They can often be helped through narratives that have appeal, and resonate with their sense of reality. They need to find a personal myth. The story and meaning of Jesus Christ goes all the way to the uttermost limits of human emotions: few grasp the freedom rather than the lessons that are learnt along the way. Eatern approaches use story less, depending more on the koan of enlightenment.

However, truth is humilty, and focusing on ultimate truth in contrast to daily truth is daunting. I have stopped. Ultimate truth is shattering. Humans aren't designed to grasp, fully. Daily truth is about responsiveness, competence, communicativeness, carefulness and cheerfulness.

Scott Fitzgerald's story about Gatsby had for many years been a sort of Bible to me: an immensity of a dream that you sought, without finding, it eluded, most enigmatically and poignantly. I felt it deeply.

Today I am on the threshold (time is short) of the real dream, and I am keen to translate it into a curious mixture of money and meaning. I am confused by the fact that some offer meaning, but want money for it, and others, more viciously honest, demand money without meaning.

My view is this:

You will always find yourself travelling on rough terrain.

You have to move towards your destination. You have to survey and negotiate the ground you traverse.

The combination of these is the curious mixture of focusing and seeking. You have to choose the appropriate balance between focusing on what you seek, and how to get there.

My friend's death has helped me to get to this balance. The most baffling experience of my life has also been the sense of the keen wind that offers the no small comfort of daily direction. God is not only the biggest picture, but also the the crucial details, as subtle as they can possibly be.

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