A Zen story that caught and continues to hold my attention goes like this: A Zen student and his master are washing up after dinner in the monastery. The young student looks at his master and declares: “Master, we are so free! What shall we do after cleaning these dishes?” The Master turns to him and replies: “Where shall we look?”
Implied in this story are many degrees and depths of freedom. One could do worse than contemplate the sense of what is going on between the Master and his student, especially the implications about our attention in our day to day lives and who has claim upon it. Even more important, I believe, than the debate about free will, there is the question of how our attention is controlled and what actual free attention we have. What does one do with attention not coopted by commercial, political, and religious interests? Perhaps it is no revelation to assert that our attention is not our own, that we are imprisoned inside the mass consciousness in a cell no larger than the amount of free attention we have to work with in our awakening process.
For our awakening to move forward, we need to use our attention, our greatest spiritual tool, to bring light-filled influences into our inner landscape so that those influences ultimately overthrow the influence of the dark consciousness that dominates humanity today. We do this or continue in the fixed loop of living meaningless lives, dying, returning to live more meaningless lives, thousands of times until this proportion changes. You don’t believe this? Fine, you declare to yourself just what is going on. Free attention is the welcome platform upon which divine intent works. Now is when awakening happens.