One Thing at a Time
I once attended a press conference and watched the reporters scribbling furiously (it was in the days before people used tape recorders or cell phones to do their work for them). Then I noticed one man sitting very still and not taking notes. He just listened. Afterward I asked him why he had not written anything down and he replied that if he took notes, he would be doing two things at the same time and would therefore undoubtedly miss something. He did not wish to split his attention.
I was thinking about this recently, in particular with regard to studying and learning, because our training has been to take notes on everything we are taught in school, so that we can refer back to them later, and I wondered why we all do this. When we read an item in a book or newspaper, hear about an event, or discover an idea by ourselves, we have no difficulty whatever remembering it and reporting it afterward. This is because it is something that interests us, something that caught and held our attention. The trouble comes only when we are not interested in something. For instance, if we are taking a course and need to study something that is required and we wish it wasn’t. What happens then is that we tend to focus on our resistance to the matter at hand rather than whatever it is we are supposed to be learning. So the secret is to be interested in whatever we are learning or doing. Then the full power of our consciousness flows to it, it goes directly into the mind, and we have no difficulty retrieving it later. It does not have to be “learned”. The learning happens naturally.