John Cage on multi-attentive meditation

Delightful 1982 audio interview with John Cage on Fresh Air:

[TERRY] GROSS: What’s your attitude towards random sounds in your home? I’m thinking now about…

[JOHN] CAGE: I just love them.

GROSS: Uh-huh. Like apartments in Manhattan, which is probably the noisiest city in the world.

CAGE: I live on – and 6th Avenue is very, very noisy. And sometimes there’s burglar alarms…

GROSS: Oh yeah.

CAGE: …and they may last three of four hours. It’s quite, that’s quite a problem. I think that our, we almost have an instinct to be annoyed by a burglar alarm. But as I pay attention to them they’re curiously slightly varying.

GROSS: What if you’re paying attention to something else at the same time?

CAGE: Well, I think that one of our most accessible disciplines now is paying attention to more than one thing at a time. And if we can do that with equanimity, then I would suggest paying attention to three things at the same time. And you can practice that as a discipline. I think it’s more effective than sitting cross-legged. I mean to say cross-legged in relation to…

GROSS: In meditation.

CAGE: Yes. It opens the – I think the meaning of meditation is to open the doors of the ego from a concentration on itself to a flow with all of creation, wouldn’t you say? And if we can do this through the sense perceptions, through multiplying the things to which we’re able at one in the same time to pay attention, I think we accomplish much of the same thing. At least that’s my faith.

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