Dale S. Wright

‘Attending to the moral dimension of the situations in which we find ourselves requires that we be able to pay attention, that we not pass by morally relevant situations without even noticing them, as when we are distracted or enveloped in daydreams. The practice of mindfulness as a form of meditation generates the mental conditions under which it is possible to see the moral dimension of everyday situations. Even more significant, the practice of mindfulness cultivates awareness of and sensitivity to the situations of others. When we are in moods of self-enclosure, when we have shaped ourselves by long periods of self-absorption, we lose the capacity to see and feel what is happening right next to us in the interior space of family, friends, and others. In so doing, sometimes urgent and obvious situations of need are ignored.

The perfection of morality calls for heightened sensitivity; it requires that we be awake and attentive to the numerous overt and subtle ways in which our actions are right now having an effect on those around us, and ways in which they could or should be having an effect. Insensitive to others, we may be unaware of the subtle forms of harm we are doing and we may be oblivious to all of the ways we might be of assistance to others.’ (The Six Perfections)

This passage resonated with me when my student group read it recently. Not least for how self-absorption limits how clearly we can see what is going on around us, but also for how we can transform this through mindfulness. A propos, I will be participating in a conversation around listening deeply with a couple of my colleagues at Within, this coming Friday morning. Details are here.

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