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The Power of Attention: Fine-Tuning Our Focus


I noted on a morning walk this month while walking our family dog on a route we have been taking quite often on our daily walks over the last several years, we passed a house marked with a whimsical sign:”Place Trilling.”

Though I’d seen this same sign and this same house day after day for many years, on this particular day the thought occurred to me that this might be the house of my favorite UC Berkeley physics professor, Professor Trilling. I imagined how nice it would be to see Professor Trilling again, and that it would be especially wonderful to get to say “Hello!” and tell him how well I remember him and his wonderful physics classes at UC Berkeley after all these years. It’s well worth mentioning that I was in a meditative state when these thoughts occurred to me, as I often meditate while I walk, and on this day I was in a particularly blissfully meditative state of mind.

our dog

our dog

The very next day, while walking our dog along the same route and past the same house, I saw an elderly gentleman assisted by a middle-aged man getting into a car. As I walked past, I thought about interrupting to inquire whether this was the Trilling I’d studied physics with some three decades ago, but couldn’t bring myself to interrupt them. I would have kept on walking, but my dog stopped abruptly in his tracks, completely transfixed by a goat sculpture he saw standing in the car port next door.

intriguing goat sculpture

intriguing goat sculpture

Our dog loves goats, but I’d never seen him so captivated and enthralled by any piece of artwork before! In the moments that passed, he pulled vigorously toward the life-sized wooden goat sculpture, complete with its tattered wool coat and beautifully carved wooden horns. Thanks to this interruption in our walk, a few moments later I realized I had the opening I needed to introduce myself to the middle-aged man, who had finished helping Professor Trilling into the front seat, so I tugged my dog along with me on his leash over toward their car.


Professor Trilling

“Excuse me,” I said, “Is this Professor Trilling? I was a student of his at UC Berkeley in the 1980s, and he was a favorite professor of mine!” The man looked surprised at first, then nodded and said, “Yes he is.” I proceeded to tell him how much I loved Professor Trilling’s classes, and that he was my favorite physics professor at UC Berkeley, and the man suggested I tell Professor Trilling myself. I replied that I didn’t want to bother him, but the man replied, “He’ll be happy to hear from you!”  So I walked up to the car and spoke to Professor Trilling directly, telling him how much his classes meant to me, and that I’d never forgotten him or his wonderful teaching after all these years.

The significance of this sequence of remarkable events of:

(1) finding out that this indeed was the home of professor Trilling,

(2) getting a chance to know whether professor Trilling is still alive and well, and

(3) having the opportunity to thank professor Trilling in person for being one of my favorite physics professors at UC Berkeley.

The fact that all this came about thanks to my being stopped by our dog’s fascination with goats at just the right place and time to provide the perfect opportunity to introduce myself was not lost on me. Thanks to his focused attention on something of tremendous interest to him (goats), I was able to experience something of great meaning to me that I was focused on (professor Trilling).

Experiencing these kinds of coincidences between what I pay attention to and how subsequent events unfold can at times like these be so precisely tuned when I’m in meditative states as I am during my walks, that I have a vibrant sense of living in a waking dream… or what’s known as “lucid living” as described in Reality Shifts: When Consciousness Changes the Physical World. For me, being in a meditative state is akin to letting go of feeling attached to any particular reality while being fully present and open to experiencing what is right here, right now. In my walking meditations, I am often in a state of feeling blissfully unconcerned about worries about the future, regrets about the past, or any other emotional baggage or “stuff.” Time and time again, whatever I think about and feel strongly about in such a state of consciousness comes into being. This is a special way of paying attention to myself and those I care most about, including my dog and his love for goats, and the possibility of reconnecting with a favorite professor.

"Quantum Jumps" front and back cover art

“Quantum Jumps” front and back cover art

Fine-tuning our focus of attention thus becomes a skill of remarkable influence and meaning, as the seemingly simple act of focusing awareness is capable of making connections through vast unseen realms, across multitudes of parallel worlds of possibility. From our vantage point, the world still appears “normal,” and life goes on… yet at some point in the near future, chances are very good we’ll see evidence of the direction we chose to focus on just now. At such times, we might be witnessing evidence that we live in a holographic multiverse, which is not the multiverse you may have heard of in which each parallel universe is completely separate from all others, but instead is a multiverse of interconnected possibilities. To be alive in such a multiverse is in some very real sense to be aware of other possible me’s and other possible you’s… to have a sense of imagination that we might be happier, healthier, or more creatively involved, for example, than we currently are…. and that we can make quantum jumps to those realities.

These kinds of jumps are part of our everyday normal experience of life in a reality that is primarily quantum in nature… though what we often speak about being most real is the material reality of classical physics… until such time as we remember some of the most important “things” aren’t things at all. Love is one of those completely unmeasurable “things” that has no part in classical material physics, just as consciousness is not considered necessary either. Though anyone who has ever fallen in love, had a child, or experienced the death of a loved one will surely agree that a scientific explanation for reality that does not include such things is obviously incomplete.


The video version of this blog post can be found on YouTube at:

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