Notice What You Notice

Primo Levi:  I never stopped recording the world and people around me, so much that I still have an unbelievably detailed image of them. I had an intense wish to understand, I was constantly pervaded by a curiosity that somebody afterward did, in fact, deem nothing less than cynical: the curiosity of the naturalist who finds himself transplanted into an environment that is monstrous but new, monstrously new. —Philip Roth, Shop Talk: A Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work.8

Aung San Suu Kyi One of the things that Buddha taught us was to step outside ourselves and see our own stupidity—as often as we can.  We regard the teachings of the Buddha as an inner compass to keep ourselves on course. Actions geared to the mood of the moment and not related to the overall strategy could prove to be disastrous. —Alan Clements, The Voice of Hope

Samuel Johnson:  She smiles not by sensation, but by practice.  —The Idler

Sei Shōnagon: Things that no one notices—All the inauspicious days. The aging of people’s mothers. —The Pillow Book

Master Zho: Being able to recognize the disease is itself the medicine. Being able to recognize that you have broken contact is itself restoring contact.  —Thomas Cleary, Worldly Wisdom

Dipa Ma: Whatever is happening is to be noticed, then that will go away, and another thing will come.  —Amy Schmidt, Dipa Ma

Walpola Rahula: The moment he becomes aware and mindful of that state of his mind, the moment he sees his anger, it becomes, as it were, shy and ashamed, and begins to subside. —What the Buddha Taught

Shunryu Suzuki:  Even though you think you are in delusion, your pure mind is there. To realize pure mind in your delusion is practice. If you have pure mind, essential mind in your delusion, the delusion will vanish. It cannot stay when you say, “This is delusion!” it will be very much ashamed. It will run away. So you should establish your practice in your delusion. To have delusion is practice. This is to attain enlightenment before you realize it. Even though you do not realize it, you have it. So when you say, “This is delusion,” that is actually enlightenment itself.  If you try to expel the delusion it will only persist the more, and your mind will become busier and busier trying to cope with it.  That is not so good. Just say, “Oh, this is just delusion,” and do not be bothered by it. When you just observe the delusion, you have your true mind, your calm, peaceful mind. When you start to cope with it you will be involved in delusion. —Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind

Sri Anandamayi Ma: To let the mind dwell on sense objects, still further increases one’s attachment to them. When intense interest in the supreme quest awakens, ever more time and attention will be given to religious thought, religious philosophy, the remembrance of God as immanent in all creation, until thereby every single knot is  untwisted.—Joseph Fitzgerald, The Essential Sri Anandamayi Ma: Life and Teachings of a 20th Century Indian Saint

Nhat Hanh:  Every time a negative formation is recognized, it loses some of its strength.  —Transformation at the Base: 50 Verses on the Nature of Consciousness

Ayya Khema: Labeling our thoughts means knowing what we are thinking. We have to start somewhere, and the best place to start is in meditation practice when we can clearly notice the continuous chatter in the mind. Thoughts can be wholesome or unwholesome or neutral; they can be distracted or restless, anxious or fearful, hateful or envious, or totally foggy. Unless we make a stab at this, we are not going to get inside ourselves, and we’ll never find out why we feel and act the way we do. —Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path

Shoma Morita:  The other way to free oneself from uncomfortable feelings is to focus attention on the pain, and to observe, describe, and evaluate it, without attempting to eliminate the discomfort or to distract oneself. In this way, the pain and suffering become liberated from being the object of subjective attachment; they become objective entities projected onto the external world. —Morita Therapy and the True Nature  of Anxiety-Based Disorders 

Ram Dass:  Notice it. Don’t judge it, don’t try to change it, don’t do anything at all except to notice it. You will find that a lot of your stuff has only been able to survive unnoticed; the minute you begin to bring it into the light of that “I” that is just looking at it all, it starts to change—without your ever having done a thing!  All you did was to start identifying with a different part of your being, a part you could use to watch all the rest of it. —Paths to God

Marcel Proust:  And just as the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little bits of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch themselves and bend, take on color and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, permanent and recognizable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann’s park, and the water lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and of its surroundings, taking their proper shapes and growing solid, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.—Swann’s Way

Title comes from Allen Ginsberg’s poem, “Cosmopolitan Greetings.”

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