The Red Monk appeared in the way he does, as if the Clear Light Cafe was a virtual reality show in which parts of the illusion are added or removed at the whim of its programmer. How do you do that? I asked.
We do it together, he said. I remember the first time it happened to me. I was in a deserted monastery near Ayodhya. As I meditated in the darkness I asked myself how Asanga was able to ascend to the Tusita Heaven where he encountered Maitreya and concentrated for an hour on that question until the dark room vanished and I found myself sitting in a sunlit mango grove, face to face with another monk and I bowed. He bowed back, asked my name and said he was Asanga. Where is this place? i said. How did I get here?
By slowing your attention, he said. The slow move further into solitude as they pursue not stasis but the stillness at the center of a whirling gyroscope.
The fast believe that heaven is almost full and want to get get there first.
The slow know there is no object so small but it makes a hub for the wheeled universe.
They also know that the miracle happens when beauty or danger slows the mind with urgent attention to the unfolding now.
Have you noticed, I asked, whether you slow others even as they quicken you?
Like warm bodies cool in contact with cold bodies which get warmer. Yeah, sometimes I cool and normal things seem to move so fast they become a blur, a hazy atmosphere around my own body and other solid things like rocks or tree trunks with boughs in a blur of buds and leaves.
He paused and said, as I get closer to people and other changing forms they change more slowly and slowly or suddenly come into focus, as if i had just awakened in some public scene. Objects become more detailed as I slow to see them and they slow to be seen.
But even a normal person can sometimes invest such detailed attention in a second of clock time, I said. When everything seems like a scene in slow motion.
Sustained attention means more information and less blur, he said, so a mind that lingers on an object or thought or scene records so much detail per moment it feels like the load it normally takes on in an hour. And you think, after it passes, that the second of clocktime must have passed more slowly.
So this slowing and concentration of mind must have consequences.
Yes, he said. One consequence is that a patient mind receives a lot more data about the objects of its curiosity. And develops deeper knowledge of them than a swift skimmer does. Skimming to and fro in search of something that does not require patient, respectful attention.
But the full flowering occurs when the slow begin to see each other thru the blurry world of the fast, to tune in other beings who are also radiating and receiving accessible wavelengths of inner light. When that happens we naturally collaborate in the enterprise of helping ourselves and others wake from the Great Sleep.
Do you think all humans will one day wake to this freedom?
Probably not, he said but when we don’t keep focussed on that objective we fall back into complacency, followed by loss of faith and vision, the light fades and darkness rises again.
It has to do with density, he said. During an hour I may process the same amount of data, whether I dwell or skim. If I skim I know a little about many things. If I dwell I know much about one thing. Like war or gardening or my mind.
To attain knowledge of my own nature I reserve some attention to an ongoing observation of my own mind. Which leads me to observe the mind of humans in general. A mind of many gods, some at war with others, some at peace, working together or alone in observation of our personal and collective journey to desolation or biospheric life.