Again from Nanananda, courtesy of Dan's link, here is a profitable way in which to regard "bare attention" other than that of the "bare attention" of a snail, goldfish or worm...
Nanananda wrote:In short, the attempt here, is to escape the net of `saññà’ or perception and to limit oneself to the bare awareness. To stop short just at the bare awareness. This is an attempt to escape the net of language, the net of logic and also to be free from the duality of two ends which involves a middle. Everywhere one is confronted with a subject-object relationship. There is one who grasps and something to be grasped. There is a seer and an object seen. But this way of attending leaves room for delusion.
Now, if perception is a mirage, in order to get at this mirage nature, one has to be content with attending simply as `seeing, seeing’. One way or the other it is just a seeing or just a hearing. Thereby he stops short at the bare awareness. He stops short at the bare seeing, bare hearing, bare feeling and bare thinking. He does not grant it an object status. He does not cognize it as an object existing in the world. He does not give it a name. The purpose of this method of mental noting or attending, is the eradication of the conceit `AM’, which the meditator has to accomplish so a to attain release. The conceit `AM’ is `asmi-màna’.
This existence or `bhava’ is actually a way of measuring. Existence involves measuring. In order to measure, one has to have two pegs and this subject-object relationship fulfills this requirement. There is one who grasps and an object grasped. It is after driving these two pegs `down-to-earth’, so to say, that one starts measuring that what is called `existence’ or `bhava’. So it is between these two pegs that `existence’ exists.
In order to eradicate or uproot these pegs, one has to do away with this duality or the dichotomy as well as the middle. As already mentioned, wherever there are two ends, there is a middle. The attempt now is to eliminate all these.
Note: Attention is not given to the signs/features here, merely the perception of the experience of an active sense-channel is cultivated. That's quite precise.
Ben wrote:Perhaps substituting "attending to the present moment" with "attending to [the object] within the present moment"?
In line with Nanananda's words above, for me, such a replacement of terminology is an improvement of sorts as it removes some degree of ambiguity, but doesn't go far enough, as it still involves the establishment/perception/acknowledgement of an object. Maya is deep set, and the implicit acceptance of any illusion as real, is an obstacle on the path. "Objects" need to be questioned too - not taken as real, existing, given or in any way fundamental.
This is not something I see regularly discussed in contemporary discourse on satipatthana/vipassana.