I have asked that people offer some kind of appreciation of the objects I am presenting. But what do I mean by appreciation? Well, I mean simply noticing some real quality of the object.
This has nothing to do with liking or disliking it, but simply observing it.
Observing something without trying to change it in any way will cause its real qualities to unfold.
By contrast, the way to make something fade away is to give it no attention. Every accountant knows that depreciation happens automatically.
When we actively pay attention to something it will give a return on the investment. It will pay us back with its nature.
This interest can be ploughed back in. The more attention you pay to something, the more full of interest it will become.
The great thing is that the returns can also be used elsewhere. The capacity to pay attention grows as things become interesting.
As attention appreciates you become more richly conscious.
Consciousness is a universal currency, but like any current it has to flow. It’s only value is in exchange.
In accumulating wealth the difficult bit is in the beginning, when you’re just a young start-up. You have to be prepared to invest some capital in paying attention to something that seems utterly worthless.
A useful initial object is the breath, because no one can complain that they haven’t got any. It’s instantly available to even the most poverty stricken person. But the object can be anything, A piece of moss, a drop of water, a fly, a bone, a stone, it doesn’t really matter. It’s the attention that’s important, the appreciation of the object.
People start with different amounts of attention. A very weak or impatient or angry person will not be able to appreciate what is right under their nose. But gradually, with some initial effort, it is possible to find interesting qualities in even the most mundane thing.
Then it becomes important to not obsessively fixate on it. It’s the business that is important, not the widget.
Gradually you build up capital which you can use to pay attention elsewhere. The more attention you pay, the more interest you receive and the richer you become.
Eventually everything is interesting and you find yourself in a palace of priceless beauty. A treasury.
All this starts from just paying attention. It starts from appreciating the qualities of the most mundane object.
So what happens to all this treasure? It’s everywhere in the world, all around, not just held in some special ‘sacred’ place.
But if you want to save it to use later where can you put it? In the memory bank of course!
The memory bank is not some dusty vault or a secret archive or a building. It is an activity, a muscle that must be used.
Do you remember your multiplication tables? Or a line of poetry? Or a scene from your childhood? Or your own name?
We remember anything by consciously noticing it. Every time something is repeated it comes into the forefront of the mind. Its details are noticed. Whichever details are clearly noted will remain distinct for some time. And whatever is repeatedly brought to mind will live longer in memory.
So it is with the objects I am bringing to mind during my time in the Tower of this great treasury. We are free to neglect the objects and let them disappear forever. After all it’s simply not possible to hold onto everything.
In fact, it’s not possible to hold onto anything. Each of us will disappear. Even carefully cultivated memories will one day fail. We will forget how to tie our shoelaces. Mothers will forget the names of their children. Cities and empires will crumble away and be buried. Languages will be lost. The species Homo Sapiens will die out.
But while we are here, we can make the choice to value awareness, to remember the totality of ourselves, to appreciate the web of phenomena that gives rise to this present moment.
As an individual I may or may not appreciate what is before me. That is a private matter. But as a society, as a collection of individual awarenesses, we weave a powerful web.
By sharing our individual experiences of appreciation we can build a valuable society. And how do we share our individual experiences? Through language, music, visual representations, mathematics, social acts.
My purpose in this blog is simply to present a chance for us to express our appreciation of forty objects. This is a chance to build value, to stop for a moment the slide into oblivion, to simply notice a real thing about each object and share it. In doing this we we make it beautiful and we enrich ourselves.
No jewel is more precious then the one slipping away from you right now.
The process of forgetting, of neglect, obscurity, absent-mindedness, decay, destruction, entropy, all this is going on automatically. It’s natural depreciation. To halt it takes just one person to contribute their point of view. This contribution is a gift, the unique product of a particular viewpoint that cannot be matched by anyone else.
Once given as a gift the object is rescued. It is valued. If we do this with one object after another we create a culture. And as a community we can join together to decide just what kind of culture to create.
Here’s today’s object.