When Barry and I were both 30 years old, we had a spiritual teacher named Pearl who lived in Mt. Shasta, California. Unlike most popular spiritual teachers today who give talks to thousands of students at a time, Pearl was simple. She saw several people at a time in her small living room. Pearl had gray hair, spoke with a lisp, and had a physical ordinariness. But she had the ability to see what was most needed in each of us. We spent a summer in Mt. Shasta so that we could be with her every day. Each day, she stressed to us, in particular: “What your attention is upon, you become.” We grew tired, sometimes, of hearing her say that over and over again. But over time, we learned the value of those words and how they can profoundly affect our lives.
Suppose you are upset with a public figure (I’m not giving any names here). Every time you see this person in the news, you grow upset and think negative thoughts throughout the day. You might even talk negatively about this person to your friends and family. You might do hours of research on the Internet to support your theory that this is not a good person. And you might find TV shows that match your opinion, and so you watch them every day. Your attention is clearly upon this person. Think about Pearl’s words: “What your attention is upon, you become.” Do you really want to become like this person that you dislike so much? It is important to be informed about current events, but it is also important to not allow them to become an obsession, one that you are thinking about continually, especially in negative terms.