All consciousness is a kind of attention. It begins the moment we awake from sleep, though it is partially present in our dreams. It began in our infancy when we first took notice of forms around us. At that time, though extremely limited, it was pure and uncomplicated by any self-conscious notions and associations. These associations were necessary to link up objects with one another and thus form relations in our mind between them. In this way we learnt to generalize and our first imaginative seeing was supplemented by abstract thinking. This, too, was necessary to enable us to organize the world about us. But because, as our vision thus developed, we had succumbed to the illusion of a separate self, we had lost the capacity ot be wholly attentive. The film of our self-interest interposed…
The basic purpose of Buddhist practice of Mindfulness is to regain the true attentiveness, which we have lost, or what Simone Weil rightly called ‘l’attente de Dieu,’ because it represents a gearing of all the faculties to the creative centre.
As our attention becomes more pure and single, we become detached from self-generated whirlpool of ideas and images in which, before, we unconsciously or half-consciously revolved. By withdrawing from it, we not only discover clearly for the first time the mechanical wheel to which we have been tied, but the automatic movement of thew wheel is arrested. It slows down and , so long as our attention holds, it ceases to turn.
— Hugh I’Anson Fausset