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

  • Mark Vernon

    October 23, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    Clea, Thanks very much for sharing what you describe, which reminds me of a number of things.

    One is how we learnt to work with the countertransference in psychotherapy, which is the feelings that you get from being with someone, and how to differentiate them from feelings arising from within your own psyche. Also, how to work openly with them, which is to say not treating them literally but as indicators of possible next steps that need testing as much as following. I remember when Iain’s “Master and his Emissary” book came out and how warmly it was received amongst psychotherapists because his explanation resonated so well with their practice.

    Second is that I increasingly think worldview matters immensely when interpreting these type of experiences/encounters. Worldviews can close possibilities down, of course, as is the case with scientific materialism (for all its benefits, too). But they can be held more lightly as a kind of map, or set of maps, that are not regarded as absolute but can suggest how to respond. Your example of discerning the presence of love might be an example of that in practice: with the conviction that love is basic, following lines of love makes sense. I also wonder if you know the discernment practice of the Ignatian spiritual exercises, between what’s called consolation, meaning soul-expanding and so eternal or divine, and desolation, meaning soul-diminishing and so not eternal or divine. The habit of testing any perception, experience or feeling, almost moment by moment, can be very helpful.

    Third, I think that both Dante and Blake teach learning to follow what, at first, seem subtle, almost ignorable, lights – seen with the mind’s eye. These at first faint lights, that are also somehow compelling, become brighter as we orientate our lives more around them. Another way of putting that is the left-style attention learning to give way to right-style reception.

    I hope some of that makes sense with what seems to be a tremendous path that you are on.