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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 39 day. As Rowe emphasizes, they do not just grab our attention, they exploit it: The attention economy mines us much the way the industrial economy mines the earth. It mines us first for incapaci- ties and wants. Our capacity for inter- action and reflection must become a need for entertainment. Our capacity to deal with life’s bumps and jolts be- comes a need for “grief counselling” or Prozac. The progress of the consumer economy has come to mean the dimi- nution of ourselves. Consumerism requires and develops a sense of our own impoverishment. By manipulating the gnawing sense of lack that haunts our insecure sense of self, the attention economy insinuates its basic message deep into our awareness: the solution to any discomfort we might have is consumption. Needless to say, that solution is incompatible with the liberative path of Buddhism. THE LIBERATION OF ATTENTION Who owns our attention? Who should have the right to decide what happens to it? Rowe concludes that we need a new freedom movement to “battle for the cognitive commons. If we have no choice regarding what fills our attention, then we really have no choice at all.” From a Buddhist perspective, however, it seems doubtful that any social-protest movement could succeed without an alter- native understanding of what attention is and what practices promote more liber- ated attention. It is not enough to fight against billboards and Internet banner ads without also considering what it really means for awareness to be here-and-now, deconditioned from attention traps both individual and collective. Is awareness to be valued as a means to some other end, or should we cherish its liberation as the most valuable end? The Buddhist answer to these questions is clear. What is less clear is what role that answer might play in our collective response to the challenge of modern society’s attack on attention. ♦ “ St. John’s College is where I learned to trust my own mind. It has been the foundation of all of my practice. Together with this community of learners one is able to digest the teaching depths of these great books. ” ~ Natalie Goldberg, St. John’s College, Graduate Institute ‘74 www.stjohnscollege.edu 505-984-6083 Lao Tzu Confucius Mo Tzu Hsun Tzu Han Fei Tzu Chuang Tzu Mencius Sima Qian I Ching Rig Veda Upanishads Mahabharata Tattva-Kaumudi (Sankhya) Karika Yoga Sutras Gitagovinda Kalidasa Vaisesika Sutra Institutes of Manu Artha-Shastra Kama Sutra Bhagavad-Gita Dhvanyaloka Buddhacarita Vimalakirti S utra Nagarjuna Chandrakirti Lankavatara Sutra Gaudapada Sankara T’ao Ch’ien Diamond Sutra Heart Sutra Hui-Neng Wang Wei Li Bai Du Fu Chu Hsi The Tale of the Heike Lotus Sutra Kamo no Chomei Sei Shonagon Murasaki Shikibu Kenko Dogen Basho Chushingura What is human nature? Is there a self ? How do we define God? Can war be “just”? Be inspired by the classic works of Eastern civilization in a true community of learning. Join St. John’s community of learners as we read seminal works and examine the questions fundamental to the cultures of India, China, and Japan. Explore new ways to challenge your thinking and stretch your spirit. The Eastern Classics program at St. John’s is a one-year, life-changing educational experience, which includes study of Sanskrit or Classical Chinese. Contemplating Change? Earn a Master’s Deg ree in Eastern Classics at St. John’s College, Santa Fe NOV 18-39.indd 39 NOV 18-39.indd 39 8/29/07 2:05:56 PM 8/29/07 2:05:56 PM