The term Presence is often found in spiritual texts and teachings, but I did not come across its intelligible description. But even just an intellectual understanding of this phenomenon can radically change your meditation and life. What does it mean To Be Present?
In the phenomenal world there are always two: an object and an subject – someone who observes, perceives, is present subject - I. An object is any phenomenon of the world: object, sound, sensation, feeling, emotion, thought, situation, event - everything that can be observed and perceived by human I – the second part of the pair, the Subject.
Often, the attention to external world events, to what is happening people call Awareness or Presence. But this can be considered as just a training, a preparation for the Being Present state. This is quite common misunderstanding. It is like the concentration of attention is confused with meditation.
Somebody is present when the Subject perceiving the Object of perception is realized, the presence of the I in the pair object-subject is realized. This is when the most part of our attention turned away from the Object and transferred to the Self, the perceiving Subject. This is when we remember our Self, this is the I-feeling.
Human education, conditioning train us to direct our attention to the external world of objects, which captures our attention totally. We are not taught to divide our attention, to realize both parts of the object-subject (I am) pair. Therefore, in our perception of the world, there is no awareness of ourselves, our Self, subject, I-feeling but only the events of the external world.
We therefore believe that life is a set of events that occur with our body and mind. And this is the main source of human suffering, because we can not control the outside world and become completely dependent on it. But it's like watching a movie: I disappear in the experiences and events of the characters, but when the film ends I realize that it was all unreal, and was happening inside my Self, which was aware and perceived these moving images. It is within our Self, in the field of awareness there is a real life, and not in a world of objects that change and move, capturing our attention and creating the illusion of life. We are in a sleep, watch movies all the time, forgetting the one who watches the film. We are not present at current event, there is only event, but there is no one who perceives this event, there is no I-feeling. Our attention, which is the only manifestation of consciousness in us, is completely absorbed by external objects.
In Self-inquiry technique of Ramana Maharshi the key question is Who AM I? The purpose of this question is to turn attention inward, to pull it away from external objects and make a shift to the subject, I-feeling, to enter the state of the Presence. Presence is an integral part of all great spiritual teachings, because this is a necessary stage that leads to Enlightenment. Without stabilized and consistent Presence, it is impossible to dissolve the individual I and surrender to pure consciousness that we call Enlightenment. Therefore, the practice Presence is always the main part of human spiritual path.
Practice of Presence
For the most people it is almost impossible to get I-feeling without prior practice. Therefore, different masters offer different options to develop the ability to live a conscious life.
- Osho / Zen: to be total / perfect in everything that we do. This is kind of extreme technique: we focuse 100% of our attention to an external object (event, activity, situation, feeling, thought, etc.), as if our life depends on it and we die if we make a mistake. In a rather short time a miracle happens: attention begins to flow backwards to its source - I. The I-feeling, a sense of Presence appears by itself. Continuing the practice of totality, I-feeling, the Presence begins to grow and gets stronger. When it becomes stable, we may drop the totality and perfection of actions, because the flow of attention is redirected inside already, and the external world of objects becomes unimportant. This is the beginning of Freedom..
- Meditation: allows us to enter the state of inner silence / emptiness / immobility / stillness. This is a state where the I-feeling becomes very clear and pronounced. Stay in this state as often and long as possible. I-feeling, the Presence begins to grow and gets stronger.
- Practicing Presence during the day and night, watching your Ego, the personal reactions in every situation. Rather quickly there comes the understanding that there is I, who is not a person. The practice of Presence gradually shifts the focus of attention to the I-feeling, at the same time weakening the Ego and its manifestations. It is very well combined with the two previous techniques.
All three approaches lead to a higher level of consciousness, increase energy, stabilize and cleanse the mind and body.
The I-feeling is the root object from which all shapes and descriptions like Universe or human being rise. It can be also perceived as an object by Consciousness. And this is the last object which we can be aware of using effort of spiritual practice. After that no effort can be applied, only by full effortless Surrender the transition beyond the manifestation can happen.