Sherry Turkle, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology makes a strong case in “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” that “A lot is at stake in attention….it is how we show what we value.“
Simone Weil, the French mystic and philosopher, teaches us that attention, this directing our mind to “what we value”, changes us, and others. In “Gravity and Grace”, (a book of selections from her notebooks published after her passing in 1943), we read: “We have to try to cure our faults by attention….If we turn our mind towards the good, it is impossible that little by little the whole soul will not be attracted thereto in spite of itself.”
The Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg goes a bit further. In “Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness”, she writes:
The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.
When we cultivate attentive awareness, William Mahony (Professor at Davidson College) explains in his commentary on Verse 77 of the “Narada Bhakti Sutras” (“Exquisite Love: Reflections on the spiritual life based on Nārada’s Bhakti Sūtra”), a Sanskrit text composed probably in 10 AD, “each moment becomes sacred.”
Simone Weil, i think, would agree. She writes: “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer….”
The poet J. D. McClatchy sees something deeper. In the introduction to the anthology of poems titled “Love Speaks Its Name”, he writes:
Love is the quality of attention we pay to things.