I think it's fairly simple. It is to find out who we are. Because we can say who we are from the perspective of the past, from what we have done, from where we have been, from what we have achieved or from what we have lost. Or, without any of that coming into it, who are we?
You are pushing the enquiry to a deeper level. That raises for me the question: why don't we usually spend any time on that deeper enquiry? What is it in us that interferes with that deeper questioning?
Is it because to go deep means to risk drowning? Is that why we resist the deeper?
It could be that going deeper means dying and we just aren't willing to die. Dying needs faith; doubt/fear even as a shadow is not allowed, will prove detrimental.
What is it that fears to drown or to die? Is this fear a living thing? If it is a living thing then there is no problem because it's right for that which is living to avoid danger.
It must be the same thing that dislikes being hurt, which fears to die, doesn't want to die, but wants to continue being in charge of the whole. Yes, all living beings avoid pain and seek pleasure. Fear is a feeling, isn't it? So, it must be living.
I don't know. It's sensible to avoid danger. But where's the danger in going deeper? There is a psychological danger when the psyche is very strong and wants to remain in control. Staying on the surface means the psyche has some degree of control and can feel like it's in charge of a small pond. But the depths are always there.
Or it could be that we don't know how to question rightly. The depths are always there; they don't go anywhere. To ask a question is a difficult thing. And to ask the right question is even more difficult.
'Who are we?' Is this the right question? We could respond to this question from the depths of memory and knowledge, and we could concoct a thousand answers. But if we disregard every particle of our personal and psychological history, there's a very different answer, isn't there?
Yes, K says out of negation the positive arises. This is the right question to ask: who or what am I? What is man? What is self? These questions I think need to be more urgently resolved without any residue.
All right, but are we to take time to resolve them? Or is it possible to resolve the whole thing in one swoop, one action?
I want them sorted out, resolved. That is the only thing; whether it takes time or happens immediately is of no consequence, so long as the problem doesn't recur or the solution doesn't lead to further questions.
Then what's the problem? What's the one central human problem that we must both address?
Lack of love, care, concern, attention – this seems to me to be the central problem that needs to be addressed. And negation of that which is not love appears to be the only way in which this problem can be surmounted.
Could we put it into one word: inattention? Is inattention at the root of it?
Yes, inattention is at the root of this contradiction and conflict in oneself. Choiceless awareness is attention, says K.
But 'choiceless awareness' is only a theory, something borrowed from someone else. First, I am inattentive; and it's my only problem.
Yes, my one problem is that I'm inattentive. The question is how to be attentive.
No, that's a movement away from the fact. So what is the fact? My only concern is to look at the fact of inattention, and not invent a pleasant hypothetical scenario.
Is it possible to be aware of it without naming it? The word 'inattention' is just a quick label, but the actuality behind the word is everything that I am: inattentive, superficial, restless, greedy, vain, selfish et cetera et cetera. Because it may be the acme of inattention to name these things, knowing that the naming produces a cognitive or emotional reaction in the form of an invented opposite towards which I then aspire. The rush to name what I am doing, how I am feeling, this may be the whole essence of my inattention: I am so busy seeking a better future that I neglect entirely to look at the simple present. Therefore I am perpetually caught in time.
The fact is that we alternate between attention and inattention, don’t we?
Yes, we probably do alternate between attention and inattention. But the question remains: How are we aware of it? For example, do we differentiate between these two states as though one is a higher state than the other? If so, why? Would we even care about attention if we hadn't heard someone like K talk about it?
How are we aware of it? Is there a ‘how’?
Of course there's a 'how'. How did we get home from work? By bus? Train? Car? Walking? In the same way, how are we aware of attention and inattention? In what manner are we aware? Casually? Accidentally? From second-hand sources? From what we remember having happened? Because if I say, 'Oh, yes, I was temporarily inattentive a few moments ago,' is that really awareness?
No, that is thought. There is awareness of that thought. You don't have to do anything to be aware that you took the bus. You don't have to do anything to be aware that you are reading this. If we are too busy thinking about what we think about awareness, there is no space for awareness to simply be.
How is one aware that one is thinking? You and I meet together for the first time or for the one thousandth time. Either way there may be a whole welter of thoughts that interfere with our communion. Are we aware of these thoughts, these images, impressions, doubts, suspicions et cetera? Are we aware of this interference? Or do we take it for granted as part of any human relationship, as a natural consequence of any two separate entities meeting? Or, together, in our relationship to one another as it actually exists at the present moment, do we see the danger of it? If we don't see the danger, why not? What are we missing?
If we disregard every particle of our personal and psychological history, what is left but awareness? This answer has no means of being expressed conceptually. Awareness minus the garbage is simply awareness. It has nothing to say about itself.
All right, let's put it another way and use your word. Are we aware of the garbage as the whole dangerous psychological package? When we look at it, examine it, are we both aware of it in exactly the same way with the same feeling about it? Or are we seeing two different things? That's all. And this is the whole point of our enquiry together. Who are we then when we see the same thing?