The Second Attention

Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Awareness, Concepts, Terminology 0 comments

Early in Carlos Castaneda’s apprenticeship, Don Juan introduced the basics of the second attention.  This was a state of heightened awareness that was distinct and different than our day-to-day state of mind, which was called the first attention.  Besides being an altered state of awareness and perception, it was also a portal or gateway to other realms; for example the threshold crossed in dreaming.

The first attention, our normal modus operandi, is the way we operate, perceive and navigate in daily life.   This state of being (or more appropriately – “doing”) is arrived at through the complex development and layering of the mind-ego conglomerate, with its attendant programs, scripts, justifications, excuses, self-adoration, criticisms, flaws and patterns.  It’s as though our consciousness was on “auto-pilot” and we careen through life, largely unaware of the true nature of self and world.

The first attention is held in place as the “ruler” of our perception, but the anchoring of what Castaneda refers to as the assemblage point – a nexus of energetic fibers of awareness, trained from birth to ‘hold’ perception in an alignment that “agrees” with the perceptions of other beings around us.  The first attention, although powerful and by all appearances, stable… is actually fairly brittle and fragile, because it is held together simply with the corroborated illusion of perceptive ‘agreement’ with those around us.  Put in other words, the first attention is an unspoken agreement of widespread societal collaboration, that “this dream is solid, we have made it solid with our agreements and perceptions, and if you attempt to question or deconstruct it, you will be punished…”

{ more to follow … }

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