Title

When Willing Doesn't Work: Attention, Practice, Faith

Department

English: Literature and Writing

Publication Year

2007

Abstract

In attentively engaging the world we hold what we know loosely, allowing the world to heave and change, negotiating a diversity of arguments, ideas, words, and gestures. Attentiveness allows us to navigate the complexities and difficulties of the world without needing to simplify or ignore them to make them manageable, to make them fit into a static and predetermined system that runs on formulas, precedents, compliance. Attentiveness evidences respect for a person, idea, object, or text, because it allows these to have a say in the conversation we host about the way things are, and even the way things ought to be. True attention reveals that thinking is never an isolated activity: it has at every moment consequences for the way we see the world and for the way we live in the world we see. Attentiveness collapses the imagined distance between thought and action; the exercise of the mind -- every exercise of the mind -- conditions us for the next moment, characterizing our perceptions, building our values, guiding our movements through the world.

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