“Buddhist psychology states that we apprehend the world through six domains of experience–the traditional five physical senses and the sixth sense of mental experience. All six create the ecosystem of the world of our experience. As the American psychologist William James said more than a century ago, “For the moment, what we attend to is reality.”
Recognizing that crucial interdependence of our attention and our experience of reality, James went on to declare that that an education that could teach students to focus attention on a chosen object would be the “education par excellence,” but he could offer no practical instruction for attaining that goal.
Luckily, even though it was unknown in the West a hundred years ago, we don’t have to invent that curriculum. The system of cultivating the ability to place your attention on a chosen object and to keep it there is called Shamatha in Sanskrit, and for a hundred generations of Buddhist meditators, it has been taught as the fundamental skill underpinning all meditation practice. ”
from the Toronto Shamatha weekend workshop, May 11-12, 2013