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

  • Joseph Woodhouse

    May 22, 2023 at 2:17 am

    I checked your website and watched the video. You come across as a very compassionate and experienced psychotherapist. It would seem to me that your courses could be very helpful to people who have had a glimpse of wholeness or intuit that some metamorphosis is possible but are stuck with the emissary usurping the role of master, to use Ian’s metaphor.

    By the way, to bring in Dr. Vernon, which is the original inspiration for this particular thread; his commentary on Dante’s “Divine Comedy” has provided me with some very powerful metaphors. I would suggest that you are trying to attract clientele to your programs who are stuck in purgatory. Dante described, 700 years ago, people whose attention is frozen in the first three levels that you describe in your video.

    Perhaps the challenge is to help people notice exactly where they are before they are able to free attention and enjoy the effortless states that you are teaching. By definition, those folks have been unable to see themselves as they are with non-judgemental, non-interfering, witnessing awareness and may have much of their lives invested in the contractions of denial, distraction, fear, hatred, anger or sheer struggle to survive. Hard to break through those prison walls. Here is another Sufi tale that addresses these issues:

    Prisoner by Idries Shah

    A man was once sent to prison for something which he had not done.

    When he had behaved in an exemplary way for some months, his jailers began to regard him as a model prisoner.

    He was allowed to make his cell a little more comfortable; and his wife sent him a prayer-carpet which she had herself woven.

    When several more months had passed, this man said to his guards:

    ‘I am a metalworker, and you are badly paid. If you can get me a few tools and some pieces of tin, I will make small decorative objects, which you can take to the market and sell. We could split the proceeds, to the advantage of both parties.’

    The guards agreed, and presently the smith was producing finely-wrought objects whose sale added to everyone’s well-being.

    Then, one day, when the jailers went to the cell, the man had gone. They concluded that he must have been a magician.

    After many years when the error of the sentence had been discovered and the man was pardoned and out of hiding, the king of that country called him and asked him how he had escaped.

    The tinsmith said:

    ‘Real escape is possible only with the correct concurrence of factors. My wife found the blacksmith who had made the lock on the door of my cell, and other locks throughout the prison. She embroidered the interior designs of the locks in the rug which she sent me, on the spot where the head is prostrated in prayer. She relied upon me to register this design and to realize that it was the wards of the locks. It was necessary for me to get materials with which to make the keys, and to be able to hammer and work metal in my cell. I had to enlist the greed and need of the guards, so that there would be no suspicion. That is the story of my escape.’