Bare Attention

The Old Pond. A Frog jumps in. Plop. Matsuo Bash0, 1644 – 1694

How do we tame our minds? How do we train ourselves to stay open to our experience from moment to moment? The answer lies in the mind state called  “bare attention”. “Bare” means simple, direct, without trappings of judgment or interpretation. “Attention” means mindfulness, awareness; not forgetting to be present. A famous Zen haiku reads: “The old Pond. A Frog jumps in. Plop”

This is a wonderful description of bare attention. The old pond is not necessarily beautiful or covered with lily pods or green or blue. The poet, Basho, goes directly to the essence of his experience: the pond, frog, plop. We can say that in meditation we are developing “plop mind”. We are stripping away everything that is extraneous to our immediate experience and simply being present with what is happening. This is bare attention: direct, essential, noninterfering.

Joseph Goldstein, Bare Attention

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