Reply To: Dr Mark Vernon's talk, A Revolution in Attention

  • Joseph Woodhouse

    October 15, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    I found Dr. Vernon’s talk to be an illuminating synthesis of key insights into what we are calling, “attentional freedom”. Thank you for the revelations of Blake’s and Dante’s contributions. I loved the images that were shown during the talk.

    To cut right to what I see as the essential thrust of Dr. McGilchrist’s gift of wisdom to our planet in this time of ultimate crisis and I believe that Dr. Vernon is amplifying this wisdom, I pose this question: How do we free attention from its imprisonment in the left hemispheric mode of inhabiting the world when most of our efforts to do so, only make the walls of the prison more secure? I offer the following Sufi tale as a potent tool in this Great Work. I am interested in connecting to anyone who has escaped the prison… even if it was just a glimpse.

    The Indian Bird

    A merchant kept a bird in a cage. He was going to India, the land from which the bird came, and asked it whether he could bring anything back for it. The bird asked for its freedom, but was refused. So he asked the merchant to visit a jungle in India and announce his captivity to the free birds who were there.

    The merchant did so, and no sooner had he spoken when a wild bird, just like his own, fell senseless out of a tree on to the ground.

    The merchant thought that this must be a relative of his own bird, and felt sad that he should have caused this death.

    When he got home, the bird asked him whether he had brought good new from India.

    ‘No,’ said the merchant, ‘I fear that my news is bad. One of your relations collapsed and fell at my feet when I mentioned your captivity.’

    As soon as these words were spoken the merchant’s bird collapsed and fell to the bottom of the cage.

    ‘The news of his kinsman’s death has killed him, too,’ thought the merchant. Sorrowfully he picked up the bird and put it on the window-sill. At once the bird revived and flew to a near-by tree.

    ‘Now you know’, the bird said, ‘that what you thought was disaster was in fact good news for me. And how the message, the suggestion of how to behave in order to free myself, was transmitted to me through you, my captor.’ And he flew away, free at last.