Atencion según G. Kühlewind

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Reflexiones sobre la naturaleza de la atención en la obra de George Kühlewind

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  of the soul by Sara Ciborski We Are Uur Attention: Motifs and I hemesjrom J.fi ã^-.. M V w '^u ^K^^^t»^^ ã-* tfiiTiViirg t^^ tf ^V ^B m m the bptmual rsychology o hlewind The foremost exponent of Anthroposophy in his noHve Hungary, Georg Kuhlewind h-aveb worldwide givingworkshops, seminars, retreats, and lectures. He is a chemist by profession and a lifelong musician. His research inconsciousness studies wrcomposses psychology, anthropology, linguisHcs, epistemology, ffie philosophy of science,and religion, especially New Testan^nt studies on^ Zen Buddhism. The focus of his most  recent  work is the chal- lenge of rightly meeting today's children, especially those with autism and other increasingly prevalent so-coHeddisorders. He is the author of 24 books, including From Normal to Healihy (an eminently pracHcol guide to ttieonthroposophical inner path). Becoming Aware of ihe Logos, The ilk of ^e Sout, Stages of Consciousness, SforChildren, and Feeling Knowing; Collected Essays. T he spiritual psychology of GeorgKiihiewind is a rich source ofinsights for the healing of anxiety anddepression, the most common mentalillnesses of our time. It provides a newvocabulary and enlightened guidance fordealing also with ADD (attention deficitdisorder), autism, phobias, neuroses anddevelopmental disabilities.And Kuhlewind s work has universalapplicability. People in the best of mentalhealth, who are following an innerpath of individual self-development(regardless of spiritual tradition), findhis guidance valuable. Neither religiousnor mystical, his approach is eminentlyand essentially praaical, based on anindividuals experience and de\'elopmentof the human faculty of tree attention.Thete is no substitute for carefulstudy of Kuhlewind's writings or for themeditative practice that can confirmhis insights. Here I offer only selectedhighlights in my own words, from notestaken at his Therapists' Working Groupseminars (open to non-therapists) thatI attended from 2000 through 2005.Full presentation of these themes canbe found in Kuhlewind's From Normalto Healthy: Paths to the Liberation ofConsciousness. Dualism and the Separating Robe Kuhlewind's metaphor for our every-day consciousness is the bathrobe, theme-feeling or sense of separate self thatbegins to develop at about age 1 1/2.Until this time, the child lives in a stateof un-selfconscious identity and intuitivecommunication carried over from thespiritual world.Our separating robe thereaftercreates our increasingly strong experienceof dualism: me here - world there. Tbeexperience of separation - from thespiritual world, from each other - is thenormal condition today. Dualism is thecondition essential for making possible 10'ãLILIPOH WINTER 2005  full self-consciousness and, through innereffort, a fully self-conscious individualovercoming of tbe separation.The dualistic view, however, is the beginning of anxiety and the source of illness. We try to find reasons for anxiety,for example, in the outer conditions of our lives, but the real meaning of anxietyis our separation.But from what are we separated?What tbe spiritual world is cannot be said in words, for it is not a place but an experience. It is the experience of out srcinal and always true nature of absolute identity witb everything, as individuals yet without the boundariesthat separate individuals in tbe physicalworld. We can verify our spiritual naturethrough experiencing it, by becomingaware of and developing our spiritualfaculties. Overcoming Dualism - the Schoolingof Attention The basis for Kuhlewlnds insights is his own spiritual research. He describes in gteat detail a schooling of the attentionwhich elaborates on the indications of Rudolf Steiner, and from bis researchhe builds a picture of tbe human be- ing, a kind of anatomy of our spiritualfaculties.We are always using our spiritualfaculties without noticing them. Theirschooling begins with the conscientiouspractice of exercises in concentrationand perception that enable us to experience our own attention, usuallydispersed and caught up in our robe.Schooled attentiveness is awareness plusdirection.We can, with practice, experiencethat our free empty (not dispersed)attention is the source for all our otherexperiences. Without it we experiencenothing. It is who we are, our true I: someone has to be there for there to be experience.Tbe patb - recommended by Kuhlewind for people who are well- proceeds to text, word and imagemeditation and then to wordlessmeditation on tbe meanings behind tbe text or image and finally - the goal of every spiritual tradition - the experienceof form-free emptiness or pure light.Emptiness is tbe fullness of the potentialof all forms. Sometimes called the I am experience, it is the experience, howevermomentary, of the unity of witness,witnessing, and thing witnessed. It is self- forgetting (the everyday self of the robe)and the overcoming of the separation of dualism. The Forms of Attention - Free and Half-free Forces Attention is comprised of our facultiesfor thinking, feeling, perceiving and willing. In their srcinal given state theyare free and without content, that is to say form-free. Kuhlewind calls themsuperconscious. They exist in theirrealization. As pure, free forces they are cognitiveor Logos forces; they are meaningful, theyare that through which we communicateand understand. Thinking, feeling, and willing are a continuum. Cognitivefeeling is feeling that knows, withoutwords, like the feeling of evidence,of logic, that always is present in our thinking. Cognitive will is tbe receptivityin out attention, as when, in order to understand what you say, I inwardlyimitate your thinking.If not used consciously, our free forcesbecome non-cognitive forms: associativethinking, emotions, habits, addictions,psychological forms - captured in our separating robe. They range from the transient forms of sense perceptionsto the irreversible, meaningless (and therefore pathological) forms that buildour subconscious.In between form-free forms of attention and forms caught in our robeare half-free forces of attentiveness. Theyare alienated from their source but not yet bound into some form of neurosis.Kuhlewind calls them vagabond or jobless because we have not giventhem their real work. They can be menacing and unbearable. They have a tinge of egotism and appear as anxiety,depression, fear and what Kuhlewindcalls meaningless noise. Because they are almost - but not quite - detached from the true I, the half-free forces of thinking, feeling and willing are without the experience of the someone who must be there for there to be an experience at all. Tbus,anxiety always has tbe color of I am not. Healing of anxiety will come onlythrough a self-conscious re-experiencing(possible in meditation) of the true self, of presence and oneness. Meanings, Not Causes Many therapeutic approaches ascribemeaning to symptoms and try to findreasons or causes for the symptoms in, for example, parent-child relations or traumatic experiences. In fact, subcon-scious formations are not communicativeand therefore have no meaning. Therapythat works with causes can alleviatesymptoms, which are a kind of noisemade of associations, feelings, memories,but it can never heal.Many therapeutic approaches to depression draw on the trauma theory.This theory, as everyone knows, saysthat you have suppressed a traumaticexperience because it was painful and that remembering in therapy brings relief. Kuhlewind points out its illogicality- if remembering the traumatic incidentbrings relief, why was it suppressed? It is a contradiction to say that an experience is forgotten because it is painful and thento say that remembering it takes awaythe pain. What the trauma theory doesis provide a label. Something becomesa trauma because we so name it. It is true that many people seem to find LILIPOH WINTER 2005' 11  nf th fi relief when the trauma is remembered(named), and this is because now thereseems to be a meaning for the presentsuffering. But it is only a surrogatemeaning.The trauma theory depends ona theory of memory that is equallyinvalid. The usual understanding ofmemory is the storage metaphor; whenyou remember something you pluck itfrom storage somewhere in the mind.But this cannot be what happens. Ifyou are trying to remember something If I am not free then the question of themeaniag of life becomes irrelevant. you know already what It is - in yourfeeling, though not in your thinking,not inwords.Thar is why you recognizeit immediately when someone says thename you were trying to remember;youmust have known it before or youwouldn't now recognize it. To rememberis to imitate an srcinal gesture ofattention, without the object present.This reproducing gesture of attention isrooted in feeling - cognitive feeling.Many therapists working withADD children do not even recognizethe reality of attention as a free faculty,and seek environmental or physiologicalcauses for the behavioral symptoms.What the behavior of children withADD shows, says Kuhlewind, is that they have weak or inadequate separation;they do not experience the dualismthat is ordinary for us. They have weakauto-perception - rhin robes or robeswith holes. Without strong me-focus,they follow physically wherever theirattention goes. These children have nota deficit but a surplus of attention butcannot fix it on one thing for very long.The meaning of ADD, he suggests, hasto do with challenging us to overcomeour own experience of extreme dualisticseparation.With free forces it makes no senseto ask about causality. We don't ask whydid Bach compose mtisic or Rembrandtpaint pictures. Free forces are text-like- meaningful - there is no cause-effectrelationship. There is only beginning. Healing: the Power to Begin What makes us human beings - thehuman feature — is that we canbegin. The hu-man being is nota causal systemand cannot beunderstood without recognizing thisfeature.A client in therapy is often convincedhe is the product of causes and has nofeeling of autonomy. Looking at the pastmay be helpful in some cases, hut ofprimary importance is that the therapistawakens the awareness of autonomy. (Itgoes without saying that the therapistmust herself practice meditation andother techniques to develop the facultiesof receptive attention and cognitivefeeling in order to do this.)The individuality of clientsprecludes, indeed would make counter-productive, the setting of therapeuticprotocols. However, Kuhlewind doesmake some suggestions for how atherapist can encourage a client to workwith his free forces. The client's freedomto begin is of course the essential factorin healing.First, the therapist can introduce aspiritual picture of the human being. Toknow: I am not an animal - this restoresthe dignity of the human being. Toknow: I am a spiritual being and I havecognitive faculties - this gives the clienta hold or beginning point.Second, the therapist can introducea picture of when and how a humanbeing is free. Kuhlewind says that mostpeople who are psychologically ill aresensitive to this topic and immediately get it. Therapists can reassure clientsthar they are autonomous and guidethem in exercises that enable them toexperience in some small way: I am free,I can attend where I will, I can begin- this brings true healing. If I am notfree then the question of the meaningof life becomes irrelevant.Specific suggestions for exercisescan be made, tailored to the individual.Small beginnings are best. Very helpful,for example, is to memorize a poem ora sacred text. Memorization requiresan exertion of inner attention duringwhich we cannot fail to experience,at least for a time, the reality of ourautonomy.Third, the therapist can encouragethe client to meditate on the meaningof his illness. He will then come tothe insight that neither the illness northe healing is for himself, since everyindividual's mission is to do the good.And beyond, the therapist can hint thatthe person's real task will begin afterhealing; just knowing this is a healingfactor. To be guided only by a notionof what is good for me, as is the casewith many therapeutic approaches, isto have lost the thread of meaning inour life.Fveryone has a mission. It is notour profession or outer work andcannot be expressed in words. It is notto do something, but a how; we are themission. Depression occurs when wefeel we deviate from our true mission.In all healings, the srcinal mission ofthe ill person is restored. 12 LILIPOH WINTER 2005
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