We cannot directly control our perceptions. We can partly control our attention.
Perceiving is passive; attending is active.
Relevance does not actually belong to perception. It belongs to attention.
We do not perceive irrelevance in another person’s argument, but, rather, refuse to attend to the argument in a way that reveals its relevance.
A permanent couch potato, who sits in one spot as if chained in place, cannot tell the difference between the arrangement of his room, and the view from where he sits. To him, they’re the same thing. If he wants a different view, the room must be rearranged.
“Sitting still is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only peripatetic thoughts have any value.” — Twilight of the Idols
There’s a distinct feeling associated with dropping intellectual resistance and opening. It is an event that exists independently of agreement, though agreement depends on it entirely. Until agreement begins to form, however, this opening is entirely formless.
It feels exactly like forgiveness.
Martin Buber, from Between Man and Man:
My friendship with one now dead arose in an incident that may be described, if you will, as a broken-off conversation. The date is Easter 1914. Some men from different European peoples had met in an undefined presentiment of the catastrophe, in order to make preparations for an attempt to establish a supra-national authority. The conversations were marked by that unreserve, whose substance and fruitfulness I have scarcely ever experienced so strongly. It had such an effect on all who took part that the fictitious fell away and every word was an actuality. Then as we discussed the composition of the larger circle from which public initiative should proceed (it was decided that it should meet in August of the same year) one of us, a man of passionate concentration and judicial power of love, raised the consideration that too many Jews had been nominated, so that several countries would be represented in unseemly proportion by their Jews. Though similar reflections were not foreign to my own mind, since I hold that Jewry can gain an effective and more than merely stimulating share in the building of a steadfast world of peace only in its own community and not in scattered members, they seemed to me, expressed in this way, to be tainted in their justice. Obstinate Jew that I am, I protested against the protest. I no longer know how from that I came to speak of Jesus and to say that we Jews knew him from within, in the impulses and stirrings of his Jewish being, in a way that remains inaccessible to the peoples submissive to him. “In a way that remains inaccessible to you” — so I directly addressed the former clergyman. He stood up, I too stood, we looked into the heart of one another’s eyes. “It is gone, ” he said, and before everyone we gave one another the kiss of brotherhood.