Attune to Emergence

Entering the relational moment without an agenda; awareness of the impermanence of thoughts and feelings; allowing the experience to unfold, knowing it is not under one’s control; “don’t know” mind.

Emergence is the process by which the complex things we experience arise and pass away as a result of underlying contributing factors, which are outside of our control. Attune means to sensitively attend and be present with this instability. The guideline Attune to Emergence is an invitation to make impermanence itself the object of practice, to attune to the rising and vanishing of experience. It encourages us to step into “don’t know mind,” placing ourselves at the edge of where we don’t know what is going to happen next, internally or relationally.

Attuning to emergence supports our seeing things as they are—unstable, emergent, constantly rising and vanishing. It challenges the mind’s tendency to freeze the world in an effort to predict and control. It also can highlight the suffering that results from this. As silent meditation quickly reveals, we don’t know what thought is going to come up next in our minds. Therefore, we certainly can’t know what is going to arise in the mind of another. To think we can predict what will emerge in any given conversation is a folly with a price. Prediction fills us with assumptions rather than truth. Rather than experience others, we experience our own projections, and the potential and subtlety of emergence are lost.

The senses are the gateway to recognizing impermanence. Just as the body is the terra firma of the Pause, ever-changing sensations are the most reliable way to reconnect with emergence. This can be directly experienced in the body by bringing awareness to changing bodily sensations. We can also bring awareness of change in the natural world and our own lives, noticing too how many of these are outside of our control.

Talk Introducing Attune to Emergence