Friday, 20 May 2011


a Moment for Wisdom…


“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by
someone who is detached.”

Simone Weil

Personal Wisdom:

To what are you attached? (Another way of asking this question: “What have you got?”)

Have you attempted to let go of an attachment? To what? Was it easy? How successful were you?


Societal Wisdom:

What are the societal attachments in your own society? How are those attachments

What would it take to rid ourselves of societal

a Moment with Sharif…


Let’s look at how “reality” works…

Most of us reading this were told in elementary school that our vision/perception worked a certain way. That there was a “little man” in our heads with a camera, looking through our eyeballs, recording all of the information that comes in.  We were taught that we all had the same little man, the same camera, and that we were recording the same thing. And that recording was called “REALITY”.

That’s not how it works.

We now know that, right before the recording and cognitive functions of our brain, the images received by our eyes go through an emotional filter (amacrine cells), adding emotional content and perspective to the images. We see what our emotions allow us to see. We cannot see what our emotions prevent us from seeing.  Even if its right in front of our faces. [NOTE: For those who would like to see my Powerpoint on brains, eyes and amacrine cells, let me know…]

This means that two people can both have exactly the same experience, and not only INTERPRET it differently (A says “I love that car”; B says “I hate that car”), but actually SEE it differently (A says “I love that car”; B says “There is no car”). Anyone who has been in
an intimate relationship has had that experience – sometimes with disastrous consequences.

So, our question must be: what is it that programs our amacrine cells to act as an emotional filter? And, how can we re-program them?

Now we get to today’s quote. Simone Weil is teaching us that it is ATTACHMENT that programs and strengthens our pre-cognitive emotional filters. The stronger the
attachments, the stronger the filters.

We can NEVER change our experience of “reality” by acting on the images we perceive… by the time we perceive them, it’s too late!  We can never change our experience of “reality” by THOUGHT. The emotional filters are feeding us what we WANT and EXPECT to see!

The only way we can break this cycle is to work on the filters, not the images. And a powerful way to do this is by looking at what we are ATTACHED to. What are we attached to? By and large, what we are attached to is what we’ve already GOT. This is especially true for recurring patterns that appear to be negative in your life. Few of us “ask” for negative experiences… but if we have programmed them into our emotional filters,
that’s what we’ll get.


The fewer attachments, the weaker the emotional filters, the better chance we have of perceiving beyond our self-inflicted illusions and the closer we get to “Reality”.


Meditation anyone?




All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.


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9 Responses to Friday, 20 May 2011

  1. maja says:

    Great piece this morning. Thanks Sharif.
    Sweeet blessings,

  2. Shirlene Warnock says:

    Sharif- I would love to see the Powerpoint on brains, eyes and amacrine cells. Thanks again for your words of wisdom!

  3. Sharon Williams says:

    Can you send me the stuff about our emotional filters?

    [NOTE: For those who would like to see my Powerpoint on brains, eyes and amacrine cells, let me know…] – I would like to see this.

  4. Sharon Williams says:

    I would change the word – ATTACHED to ADDICTED. We are addicted to certain behaviors because we think that is all we will ever get and all we ever deserve in this life. I am addicted to the internet, I am addicted to not writing things down and running away from stuff. (As if magical thinking ever helps the situation.)

  5. Tarri says:

    I am attached to my dog. He seemingly shows unconditional love; what we all desire, have an innate craving for. He gives me great comfort… always happy to see me (has separation anxiety, always looking for the next treat), always there (options?), he never questions me (so, I am perfect? Ha!) I am rarely lonely with him around. Attachment to this rescued animal is darling, however I have been accused of not needing a man with him around…. only a true friend could say that. I didn’t believe it at first. Our best friends reflect for us. Our attachments need us to survive and thrive OR vice versa (so we think). I used to take him to the beach because he loves it as much as I do BUT I don’t get the peace of walking the miles as my therapy, losing track of time and the world around me. Finally broke the habit and take care of me. What growth am I keeping myself from through my attachments that represent security (mortgage payments even?) Yes, good time to meditate, going to the beach! Thanks, y’all.

  6. Grace says:

    I have heard this concept numerous times but I love the way you put it. The word attachment is so strong and appropriate to how we can argue for our attachment to having our beliefs be true, whether these beliefs are serving us or not. Every time an attachment is severed a whole clothes line of old beliefs goes flying away. Yesterday I recognized my attachment to knowing what is going to happen next, plans for next week. The little controlling gene pops up here. Why do I need to know? Even when I know I am always willing to change. I want to live like I drive to the coast in the fog, trusting that seeing just a few feet ahead of me is enough to trust the rest of the road will be there when I get there.

  7. Holly Wells says:

    I’ll be starting the New Thought Center for Spiritual Living “A World That Works” Life Group on May 25, 8:00-9:30 p.m.–open to all. Any thoughts, Sharif, on whether we should simply start with this week’s Moments of Wisdom and praxis–or start at the beginning of this lovely material?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the question… I’m not sure whether it makes a difference where one starts.

      I do notice the depth and quality of people’s responses over time, but I think that may be that responders are just getting more comfortable with responding.

      What does your intuition say?


      PS: I am considering taking off the dates and just numbering them. That way, a person would know to start with #1 and go on…

  8. Holly Wells says:

    I’m thinking I’ll start with #1 Praxis and work our way through all 12, but bring a fairly current Moment to discuss in the group each week–then encourage folks to follow the Moments daily and participate in the current online discussions, as well as doing the Praxis assignments. It may take a while to find them, but I believe there are people for whom this (will end up) being spiritual food and drink–doing this in finite “chunks” with fellow travelers.

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