stance, to sit in a relaxed position (neither slouching, nor rigid), to close one's eyes, and to try to see a white screen in front of one's eyes, and to try to remove all interfering pic- tures and thoughts, then to try to follow one's breathing; not to think about it, nor force it, but to follow it—and in doing so to sense it; furthermore to try to have a sense of " I"; I = myself, as the center of my powers, as the creator of my world. One should, at least, do such a concentration
THE PRACTICE OF LOVE I13 exercise every morning for twenty minutes (and if possible longer) and every evening before going to bed. 2 Besides such exercises, one must learn to be concentrated in everything one does, in listening to music, in reading a book, in talking to a person, in seeing a view. The activity at this very moment must be the only thing that matters, to which one is fully given. If one is concentrated, it matters little what one is doing; the important, as well as the un- important things assume a new dimension of reality, because they have one's full attention. To learn concentration re- quires avoiding, as far as possible, trivial conversation, that is, conversation which is not genuine. If two people talk about the growth of a tree they both know, or about the taste of the bread they have just eaten together, or about a common experience in their job, such conversation can be relevant, provided they experience what they are talking about, / and do not deal with it in an abstractified way; on the other hand, a conversation can deal with matters of politics or religion and yet be trivial; this happens when the two people talk in cliches, when their hearts are not in what they are saying. I should add here that just as it is important to avoid trivial conversation, it is important to avoid bad company. By bad company I do not refer only to people who are vicious and destructive; one should avoid their corn- 2 While there is a considerable amount of theory and practice on this point in the Eastern, especially the Indian cultures, similar aims have been followed in recent years also in the West. The most significant, in my opinion, is the school of Gindler, the aim of which is the sensing of one's body. For the understanding of the Gindler method, cf. also Char- lotte Selver's work, in her lectures and courses at the New School, in New York.
I I 4 THE ART OF LOVING pany because their orbit is poisonous and depressing. I mean also the company of zombies, of people whose soul is dead, although their body is alive; of people whose thoughts and conversation are trivial; who chatter instead of talk, and who assert cliche opinions instead of thinking. However, it is not always possible to avoid the company of such people, nor even necessary. If one does not react in the expected way—that is, in clichés and trivialities—but directly and humanly, one will often find that such people change their behavior, often helped by the surprise effected by the shock of the unexpected.
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