There is not much humor in Weil, but years ago I did stumble across one joke in her Notebooks. This is an approximation, since I can't find it just now:
Two men meet on the street. One says to the other, "Haven't I met you before?" The other guy says, "I don't think so."
First guy: Didn't we meet in Cairo?
Second guy: No, I've never been to Cairo.
First guy: Me neither. Must have been two other guys.
In this joke, the subject, the First Guy, erases both himself and the premise of his initial query. He's whisked away, and the premise with him, like the sand in a Tibetan mandala.
The supposed subject disappears in acts of attention. It disappears into what it focuses upon. Just this self-undoing is also a tremendous self-enhancement, the birth of the free, unashamed self -- you know, at trembling instants, not as something to possess. The birth of the true self is like the laugh, or at least smile, that the joke evokes.
For in the act of attention we not only lose ourselves as we have already known ourselves. If it is pure attention, we also lose its supposed object. The object -- the thing or concept we focus on -- disappears as it is experienced ever-anew, freshly. Heraclitus, who said you never step twice into the same river, also mysteriously claimed that "all things flow." It is not simply that time passes on and everything is lost in that way. If your attention is alive, it becomes a knowing without grasping, so that the object focused on never collapses into a known.
Next week, we'll use as our meditation theme a piece of this story, from her "Reflections" essay:
Quite apart from explicit religious belief, every time that a human being succeeds in making an effort of attention with the sole idea of increasing his grasp of truth, he acquires a greater aptitude for grasping it, even if his effort produces no visible fruit. An Eskimo story explains the origin of light as follows: “In the eternal darkness, the crow, unable to find any food, longed for light, and the earth was illuminated.” If there is a real desire, if the thing desired is really light, the desire for light produces it. There is a real desire when there is an effort of attention. It is really light that is desired if all other incentives are absent. Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul. Every effort adds a little gold to a treasure no power on earth can take away. The useless efforts made by the Curé d’Ars, for long and painful years, in his attempt to learn Latin, bore fruit in the marvellous discernment that enabled him to see the very soul of his penitents behind their words and even their silences.
all blessings to all,