- The concentration of attention or energy on something
- Maximum clarity or distinctness of an idea
You know what focus is, you have it on your camera. It allows an image to become clear in the lens. Your mind is exactly the same; it can only focus on one thing at a time. You may have lots of things going on, but in the moment, it is just one thing that comes into clarity. One thing that shines in the mind above all others.
What I want to discuss with you here is not the event of focus, but what we focus on. For every action in the world there has to be some focus before the action. Whether it be hateful, loving, violent, destructive, or creative. Focus is like a laser beam, it brings one thing into the spotlight.
In other chapters we have discussed compassion, love, and empathy, three words which I think underpin what it is to be truly human. Three words that allow us to enter into the feelings of others (human or animal), have a deep awareness of the suffering of others, and show a positive regard for others. When we focus on these things, we turn our mind into a force for positivity that affects the whole world. On the other hand, focus can be used to hurt, kill, control, and dominate animals, enslave humans, cheat, and develop greed.
In simple terms, focus can be used as a positive or negative force, and the results of this can be seen permeating throughout the globe. In some areas you can see terror and murder, and in others, people trying to help others live a better life through better water, more plentiful food, and education. So what makes us focus on the destructive things? Is it because we were brought up in a violent family and weren’t shown any love? Or brought up in a family that concentrated on success and the acquisition of wealth?
There could be many reasons, some of which inevitably have been brought with you as baggage from your childhood, but to me, the lack of clarity which makes us focus on the negative things is merely a lack of awareness. Awareness of self in action, Awareness of others.
Awareness of the effect we have on others.
When we become more aware, our focus starts to shift automatically, leading to the deep understanding of the three words.
All too often our focus wanders back to the self. Self-interest, self-indulgence, self-pity. So how do we get this focus? Do we really want it anyway? Isn’t our life good enough without it?
“Who are you to tell me what to focus on?”
And of course you don’t have to focus on love, compassion, and empathy; who am I to tell you to do such a thing! You are an individual, free to make your own choices in life. It’s entirely up to you what you do. If you want to focus on making as much money as you possibly can, or exploiting others, then that is what you should do. If you want to focus on terrorising and killing people, then that is what you should do. If you want to focus on stealing from people then that is what you should do. But remember it is now your personal choice to do so. You are not being forced to behave in this way.
You may have had a terrible upbringing which has contributed to who you are today. But now you must be prepared to take the responsibility for your actions. You are the one who is focussing on these things. No one is to blame. It is your responsibility to accept it.
Remember, you and I belong to the most intelligent species on the planet, and you are free in your mind to focus, and therefore act, on any activity you desire, whether it is of negative or positive consequence to the rest of us. I just ask that you are aware you are making this choice of your own volition.
If you can only focus on one thing at a time…
Why not make it a positive thing?
With that out of the way, maybe we can move on to look at the positive aspects of focus (sorry to keep repeating the word). What benefits can come about by focussing on love, compassion, and empathy?
Well there’s no better place to start than the self!
Self-love may seem like vanity, and maybe just a little narcissistic for you, but if you can’t love yourself, how can you start to love others? I am not talking about being conceited or admiring yourself in the mirror every day, this is about acceptance of self – acceptance that you are a wonderful human being, whatever you believe your faults are, and that you are capable of being loving towards every other human being on the planet. True acceptance of this is the start.
It doesn’t matter if you have been a murderer, warmonger, drug dealer, criminal, liar, or con man. You are not everything you have done. You may have created negative effects for people in the past, but whilst air still flows into your lungs, and your heart still beats in your chest, you can refocus on the positive, and turn the spotlight on love – love of yourself.
From this love of self, emanates a radiant glow around you, no longer are you trapped in a prison of negativity, you have refocused on love. You have let negativity slide away from you in one big shift.
The second step involves no effort either, but just allowing yourself to focus on someone else for a moment, for example your family around you (whether it be wife, husband, brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, or father), and let the radiant glow that is love reach out to them.
They are the closest ones to you.
Whether you hate them, disagree with them, or argue with them you can still love them. You don’t have to force it. Just embrace them and tell them “I love you,” that is all. “I love you.” If it seems difficult to you, just imagine you are saying it in your mind before you do it. I love you signifies a feeling so strong it contains no judgement nor criticism.
“I love you.”
Once you have said it, become aware of your feelings. Try to notice what you are thinking. Then try to think what the person you have said it to is feeling. What do you imagine they feel? Do you think it is positive or negative? Try to understand how they may have been feeling if you hurt them in the past. Try to feel how they may have been feeling when someone they loved hurt them.
What a dagger that strikes you when you are hurt by someone you love.
Try to feel it now, without feeling pity for yourself for causing hurt, reach out with the radiant love to them and enclose them in it. The golden glow of love. You are focussing on empathy.
Step three. Refocus.
See this is easy isn’t it? Think about the people you have hurt on your way in the world for a moment. Try to understand how they suffered when you hurt them. What was their suffering like? How did you feel when you were hurting them with your words and your actions? Can you see their faces? Can you see your face? How did you look? How did they look? When you are ready bring that suffering into focus and hold it there, shine a torch on it, pinpoint it with a laser beam. Don’t let it out of your mind until you can feel it. Now let it go.
Let the negativity slide away once again and refocus on the golden image of love emanating from your body and embrace the suffering of the others you have hurt. Embrace their suffering and wrap it in your golden blanket of love.
Never again will you let your mind wander and focus on negativity, you are compassion, you do not want to hurt people you want to help them. It is in your true nature to help others not hurt them. You feel their suffering and you want to do something to alleviate it. You do not want to cause suffering any more. You are focussing on compassion.
Maybe you do want to cause suffering. Maybe you want to hurt people. Maybe you don’t know you are hurting people, maybe you don’t care, maybe you are just too busy to notice! Maybe hurting people is inevitable in your line of work.
Maybe, maybe, maybe…
I would ask you one thing though, and that is to be upfront with people. You see, it is so hurtful when people are deceived into thinking you are loving, empathic, and compassionate, when you are not. It is so much better for you and for the rest of the world if you just come out and say it.
I don’t care if I hurt people, I don’t care about anybody
I am focussing on myself
For me personally, if I am going to dedicate my energy to something, I want it to be positive. I want to help other people, so I focus on the three key words.
It doesn’t mean I am not thinking about other things. It just means that when I have a thought or perform an action, I shine my torch on that thought with the test of is it loving, compassionate, or empathic? It doesn’t take more than a micro-second to do. It isn’t difficult, and doesn’t require effort. Just awareness.
When I apply the test to myself, I don’t have to stop and think, it is almost a transparent effect. The thought just passes through my mind without interaction and judgement, and is only halted when it comes into conflict with the three key words. It works for me.
Do something positive for yourself and the world right now. Shine a spotlight on your thoughts. Light them up and refocus. Why waste time on negative thoughts and actions. Where do they get you in the end?
You only have a short time on earth, why fill it with negative stress, when you could feel love, compassion, and empathy your whole life? My life is different since refocusing. You don’t have anything to lose. If you don’t feel better, then you can always go back to your old ways! It’s that easy.