We are considering the human being as having, so to speak, three intimately interconnected “bodies:” (a) a material, physical body of flesh, that engages in behavior and acts on other material objects; (b) a body that thinks, is composed of and acts on ideas (ideation), which we may call the “mind;” and (c) a body of emotions, or feelings or “affects” (all the same thing), which we may call the “soul”.
Our thesis is that a single set of disciplines, involving all three “bodies,” can yield a state of being I have called “peace of mind,” which is tantamount to what Jesus called “the Kingdom;” and, in short, maximize one’s opportunities for tranquility and happiness in life.
We have examined one of those disciplines, namely meditation.
In the second half of this chapter, we will look at where this all leads in the end.
In later chapters, we will look through the microscope at look at how this Way affects the cells, the ultra-tiny building blocks of every flesh “body,” whether human, animal or plant; with direct effects on the mind “body,” the soul “body,” and the “body” of society as well.
We will examine Jesus’ teachings and verify that this Way is really what they’re all about. We will find among them strategies and tactics for the application of this Way. Separate chapters will set forth the remaining strategies and tactics that I am aware of.
The foremost strategy is so important as to deserve examination now.
The previous chapter began with these words:
Meditation is not the whole of the Way, any more than flour is the whole of cookies. If you want cookies, you must also have butter, sugar, and perhaps eggs, in addition to flour.
If meditation is the “flour” for our cookies, then the sugar may be how one uses one’s mind throughout the day, outside of meditation; and the butter, how one chooses to feel.
Just as, in meditation, one has chosen an “affirmation,” an idea to constantly bring one’s mind back to; so also, throughout the day, there is a correct ideatic or mental focus for one’s attention, to constantly bring one’s mind back to whenever it may stray.
And that is, namely, the present, the here-and-now; in the most concrete, material things one may observe. I am sitting in this chair. I am sitting before this desktop computer. I happen to be wearing blue jeans, and listening to a classical music radio station. These are correct things for me to pay attention to, right now. There will be discussion later in this book, of why this is so.
So, what to think about in the here-and-now? The correct focus in that regard is what
do. Not what you can’t do. Not what others-can-but-you-can’t. Not what others-should-but-don’t-or-won’t. Or should’ve-but-didn’t-or-wouldn’t. Not even what you “coulda shoulda woulda,” or what others may say you “coulda shoulda woulda.” No. The correct focus: what
That’s one of the reasons one will correctly keep one’s attention on the concrete, material here-and-now: anything I can do, begins with those concrete, material things.
To be and become the best person one can; to have the best life one can; one must sidestep those things that tend to drain away one’s resources, one’s happiness, one’s energies. That is exactly what attention to things one can’t do, and places where one’s not, and what should or shouldn’t have been in the past or should or shouldn’t be in the future, does: it drains you.
In the midst of uncertainty about what to do or what may come, it can be tremendously reassuring and stabilizing to attend to those things of which one may be most certain. For me at this moment, I named a few above: a chair; a desktop; blue jeans.
Particularly when one is dealing with, say, an abusive boss or domestic partner — such a person is prone to wear down one’s sense of self until one feels as if one no longer knows “who I am,” let alone what one can do or what one is good for. Attention to what one knows for sure, can be a first step to regaining one’s identity. There are floorboards under my feet. My shirt is cotton. My skin is dry. Certainty — in the concrete, material here-and-now.
To deal as best I can with the circumstances that are before me here and now, I need to have my full resources available and focused on the here and now. If I am to deal as best I can with whatever may happen here and now, again, this is where my mind must be.
It won’t happen if I’m not paying attention.