“In doing this work, we are learning how important it is to bring mindfulness to those times that we become alerted to the presence of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. It is tempting at such times to switch our attention away as soon as we detect that the thoughts and feelings are unpleasant and to return our attention back to the haven of the breath. But it is more skilful to pause long enough to bring to them a spirit of gentle inquiry and curiosity, an investigative awareness. ‘Ah there you are; let me see who you are’. In this way .... we are in much better shape to become familiar with the content of recurring messages. Furthermore, this sense of openness, curiosity, and exploration will activate the approach mode of the brain. In itself, this will directly counteract the avoidance mode and so provide a further steadying influence that can prevent us from getting caught up in and carried away in all our own imaginings.” (Page 176/7)I love the calm, scientific tone of this, carrying no religious overtones at all. I had walked down the road to Cafe Nero and, having read this there, walked back a totally different person, set free from oppressive and afflictive thoughts. People must have had that experience when they encountered Jesus.
In the evening I hear Philip Pullman at the Queen Elizabeth Hall talking about his new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. He refers at one point to the impracticality of ‘Consider the lilies of the fields .... Take no thought for the morrow....’ He clearly doesn’t know about Keating’s ‘Wisdom’ approach to the message of Jesus. For example in a yoga/meditation session I have a plan, a goal: the sequence of poses – but it is important to take each moment as it comes, each pose and each transition is to be accomplished here and now without anticipation or judgement. Take no thought for the morrow does not preclude plans and goals. It is just that any journey, however long and complicated, begins with one step and continues moment by moment with each step.