Presence

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Presence

Postby rachMiel » Fri May 26, 2017 4:31 pm

I have come to really like the term presence. (Didn't so much at first, probably because it had become so fashionable, spiritual chic, something Oprah devotees and Zen CEOs tossed around preciously.)

Words are not the things they point to ... but they matter, don't they? They set the tone, frame the attitude. Sometimes consciously, often unconsciously.

What I like about "presence" is the sense of mystery at its core.

We all know what it feels like to be present. But what does it mean?

Is it being here/now? Yes.
Is it surrendering to what-is? Yes.
Is it paying attention to external/internal reality, to what arises in the mind? Yes.
Is it awareness? Yes. Consciousness? Yes. Experience? Yes.
Is it flow, love? Yes, yes.

It is all of the above ... AND it is unknowable, undescribable, beyond words. If you attempt to *do* it, be present, it eludes you. If you just relax into what-is ... you realize that you ARE it.
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Re: Presence

Postby rachMiel » Fri May 26, 2017 5:19 pm

I recently told a dharma teacher that I was at a loss for words (in attempting to describe an aspect of awareness).

He said "That's a good sign! Stay with that."
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Re: Presence

Postby dijmart » Sat May 27, 2017 1:48 am

Hi Rachmiel,

I read your post earlier today and thought on it on/off throughout the day. To me, it doesn't matter the word as long as one knows what that word means. I choose "usually" to say awareness, because that is the word used for the absolute by James Swartz (Vedanta) and I know clearly what is meant when using it. I like to stay consistent when writing my posts so use it any time I'm pointing to my true nature. However, I will bend that rule (sometimes) if answering someone who is using consciousness, presence, ect and I know they mean the absolute.

The only issue I have with presence, is when someone says present vs presence. Only because present seems to point to time, when awareness points to your true nature outside of time. Like when people say, I was present, but now I'm not.
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Re: Presence

Postby rachMiel » Sat May 27, 2017 4:06 pm

dijmart wrote:To me, it doesn't matter the word as long as one knows what that word means.

dij, good to hear from you. :-) I guess what I'm trying to say about "awareness" (or other similar terms: consciousness, presence, etc.) is that I *don't* know what they (ultimately) mean. Sure I have an image of what "awareness" points to (see list above). But, ultimately, that pointed-to-(non-)thing is ... the mystery, the unknowable. Brahman, God, the ground, Truth ... take your pick. Every time I've arrived at an "Aha! So *that's* what awareness is!" moment, I realize shortly afterwards that I'm just believing in a (in that moment) compelling story.
The only issue I have with presence, is when someone says present vs presence. Only because present seems to point to time, when awareness points to your true nature outside of time. Like when people say, I was present, but now I'm not.

Gotcha. I can see how that would bother you. It's fascinating how powerful words can be, each one lights up a whole network of unique associations in each of us.
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Re: Presence

Postby rachMiel » Sat May 27, 2017 6:32 pm

rachMiel wrote:Sure I have an image of what "awareness" points to (see list above). But, ultimately, that pointed-to-(non-)thing is ... the mystery, the unknowable. Brahman, God, the ground, Truth ... take your pick. Every time I've arrived at an "Aha! So *that's* what awareness is!" moment, I realize shortly afterwards that I'm just believing in a (in that moment) compelling story.

And there I go again, believing "Eureka, I've got it!" (above, in italics) and then shortly after realizing I'm just spinning another tale (now).

Silly mind! You'd think it would just give up at some point ... and relax. ;-)
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Re: Presence

Postby dijmart » Sun May 28, 2017 6:34 am

I don't know if you're confused? ...or haven't been exposed to Self knowledge? ...

Awareness is all pervasive, it is what the jiva (person) is made of and is what makes it tick.

I remember when I thought awareness was something "out there"....something to obtain. That's not the way it is, I know that now.
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Re: Presence

Postby Onceler » Sun May 28, 2017 1:49 pm

It's just me. Looking unblinkingly at the world, not caring about any of it, but loving it all immensely.
Be present, be pleasant.
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Re: Presence

Postby Rob X » Sun May 28, 2017 2:22 pm

rachMiel wrote:I guess what I'm trying to say about "awareness" (or other similar terms: consciousness, presence, etc.) is that I *don't* know what they (ultimately) mean. Sure I have an image of what "awareness" points to (see list above). But, ultimately, that pointed-to-(non-)thing is ... the mystery, the unknowable. Brahman, God, the ground, Truth ... take your pick. Every time I've arrived at an "Aha! So *that's* what awareness is!" moment, I realize shortly afterwards that I'm just believing in a (in that moment) compelling story.


I agree. For this reason I prefer to rotate the terminology/pointers - knowing full well that none are adequate descriptions but merely placeholders.

I’ve found that for some the word ‘awareness’ can be particularly troublesome/confusing because outside the tiny world of the satsang bubble it means something quite specific. Most people would say that awareness is this common experience of self-reflective, attentive knowing/perceiving. Something that comes and goes in our waking hours but vanishes in dreamless sleep.

Meanwhile much of the nonduality/spiritual world has appropriated it (awareness) as a placeholder for the inexplicable source, 'stuff' and totality of things.

For the first category - let’s call it ordinary awareness for a moment - to present itself in any way that anyone has experience/direct knowledge of (or is in any way intelligible), some degree of sentience is required - usually involving a functioning nervous system/brain. This is not to say that a brain/nervous system creates ordinary awareness. But it could be said that ordinary awareness is dependent on certain conditions for it to be the case. If certain areas of your brain were removed while you were reading this, pretty soon the awareness of this page would cease to be. Also it's plainly the case that this ordinary awareness is limited in its range and in the type of frequencies that it can detect. (It doesn't matter how enlightened you are, you won't hear a 30 kHz tone, see ultraviolet rays or feel a meteorite smash into the surface of Mars.)

It might be argued at this point that it's not awareness that has the limitation but the 'vehicle' of the person/organism. This is not unreasonable. But this underlines the fact that our everyday ordinary experience cannot be said to be that of pure limitless awareness since limitation is involved. Perhaps it could be said to be Source/Reality (or pure awareness) presenting AS sentient limitation.

That which is the ground and be-ing of this creative play of manifestation is what the second category is pointing to. Ultimately what the true nature of this creative principle is, no one can say for sure since that which attempts to analyse and formulate IT is but a reflection contained within IT.

When identity as a separate self is seen through and the vastness reveals itself, it doesn't come with a metaphysical formula. Right now, here it is - the mysterious vastness (or _____________) revealing itself moment by moment. Anything more is a formula, description or working hypothesis tacked onto this wordless realisation.
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Re: Presence

Postby rachMiel » Sun May 28, 2017 5:47 pm

dijmart wrote:I don't know if you're confused? ...or haven't been exposed to Self knowledge? ...

If working through buncha teachings on traditional Advaita Vedanta = being exposed to Self knowledge, then yes I've been exposed to Self knowledge. But I enjoy drawing upon many traditions: Advaita, Direct Path, Buddhism, Dzogchen, Krishnamurti, Taoism, and more. So my view of Self knowledge is not the strict Vedantic view, it's a personal view arrived at through studying all these traditions.

The "No one really knows anything" view is inspired largely by Buddhism ... though I pretty much always felt this, even as a kid.
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Re: Presence

Postby rachMiel » Sun May 28, 2017 6:09 pm

Rob X wrote:I agree. For this reason I prefer to rotate the terminology/pointers - knowing full well that none are adequate descriptions but merely placeholders.

I do this too, as a way to prime the pump. Once it's flowing, the terms matter less or not at all.

I’ve found that for some the word ‘awareness’ can be particularly troublesome/confusing because outside the tiny world of the satsang bubble it means something quite specific. Most people would say that awareness is this common experience of self-reflective, attentive knowing/perceiving. Something that comes and goes in our waking hours but vanishes in dreamless sleep.

Meanwhile much of the nonduality/spiritual world has appropriated it (awareness) as a placeholder for the inexplicable source, 'stuff' and totality of things.

Yes! It took me a ridiculously long time to grok this ... I kept trying to unify the two meanings, and kept ending up confused. That's what I mean about the power of words to frame understanding and experience. As long as I kept trying to think of ultimate awareness (the ground) as an extension of conventional awareness (perception) ... it limited my understanding and experience.

When identity as a separate self is seen through and the vastness reveals itself, it doesn't come with a metaphysical formula. Right now, here it is - the mysterious vastness (or _____________) revealing itself moment by moment. Anything more is a formula, description or working hypothesis tacked onto this wordless realisation.

This is pretty much exactly my view ... and (slowly, gradually) becoming more of my experience also.
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Re: Presence

Postby painBody » Sun May 28, 2017 9:59 pm

Great topic ! I enjoyed reading your (original) post, rachMiel (I didn't understand any part of the subsequent discussion about Advaita, etc)

I'm not particularly attached to the word, but I also like the word "presence", if I had to pick one pointer to describe "it".

To me, it means (not to be taken literally, of course):
- First and foremost ... simplicity. Nothing baffles me anymore as I realize that things (around me) and thoughts (inside me) don't need to be understood. It's almost like conquering the world of form, establishing dominion, but not in an egoic way ... the things no longer have power over me, no longer stealing my sanity.
- Spaciousness ... I feel a space, a distance from things and thoughts, as if I just zoomed out from my surroundings. Things and thoughts recede into the background, as space moves into the foreground ... the space feels almost like a protective buffer from the insanity of the world. I feel safe and protected.
- A pause ... the insanity of the world can wait (from my perspective) as I take attention away from it, time ceases to exist, things and thoughts recede into utter unimportance ... there is something far more important going on here.

I find two particular practices especially effective anchors to the present moment: 1- Taking a deep conscious breath, and 2 - Watching the branches and leaves of a tree swaying in the wind, always gracefully honoring the constantly changing wind (a beautiful metaphor)

I also finally grokked the word "grok" ! Thank you, rachMiel :D
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Re: Presence

Postby dijmart » Mon May 29, 2017 4:37 am

The problem with understanding who you really are as awareness or what awareness really is is that awareness is so familiar to us that we don’t even notice it. Truly speaking, there is never a moment in which you are not awareness. It is because of awareness that you know you exist. Because awareness (i.e. The Self) is so often referred to using such grandiose terms as ‘supreme consciousness’ and ‘parabhraman’ and ‘beyond the beyond’ and say that it is more effulgent than a million suns and all that we tend to think that it is something we can never know or experience, or that it is some ‘other’ experience that we have to cultivate or achieve and then maintain. But the truth is that THE awareness to which all such hyperboles refer is nothing more (or less) than the simple, ordinary, everyday awareness in which all your thoughts, feelings, sensations appear. And what do you have to do to acquire, experience, and maintain that?

The fact is that you can’t do anything to acquire, cultivate, or maintain awareness because awareness is simply what you are. The only thing you can ‘do’ in regard to awareness is recognize it for what it is and thereby remove your ignorance about your true identity as awareness. Vedanta is the means of knowledge that arms you with the tools that enable you to do this. It doesn’t produce enlightenment; it simply removes the ignorance that clouds your appreciation of your true identity as awareness. ~Ted Schmidt


http://www.nevernotpresent.com/satsangs ... awareness/
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Re: Presence

Postby Rob X » Tue May 30, 2017 3:07 pm

rachMiel wrote:Yes! It took me a ridiculously long time to grok this ... I kept trying to unify the two meanings, and kept ending up confused. That's what I mean about the power of words to frame understanding and experience. As long as I kept trying to think of ultimate awareness (the ground) as an extension of conventional awareness (perception) ... it limited my understanding and experience.


Yes I think this is very common. Not just with seekers but I think that some teachers also blur the line and switch between meanings. Let’s have a closer look at this in the light of the Ted Schmidt quote.

But first let’s recap on what is meant by the two categories.

1. Ordinary awareness = The common understanding/experience of self-reflective, brightly attentive knowing/perceiving. Something that comes and goes in our waking hours but vanishes in dreamless sleep.

2. Awareness as in the mysterious source, 'stuff' and totality of things = The ground of being, Ultimate Reality, Source, Life, Absolute etc. From here on I’ll use the fairly neutral ‘Source’ when speaking of this category.

So firstly it’s very important to acknowledge that Source includes EVERYTHING. Every thought, action, event and every other kind of permutation that can be conceived of is an ‘expression’ of Source. So of course it follows that “the simple, ordinary, everyday awareness in which all your thoughts, feelings, sensations appear” is also not other than Source in motion (so to speak.)

But that doesn’t make ordinary awareness the equivalent or synonymous with Source and this can be simply demonstrated by noticing that ordinary awareness is subject to limitation/dependence.

Let’s take the ordinary awareness of reading and comprehending this very text right now. This (as I have suggested) is dependent (in some important respects) on a functioning brain/nervous system (not to mention sense gates.) Take those away (let’s say that someone takes a sledgehammer to your head - sorry bout that) and the awareness of this page would cease to be. So in order for the ordinary awareness of the reading of this text to be the case (in any way that is intelligible) certain conditions have to be in place.

Now this is where the spiritual teacher often morphs into meaning two. We might be told that it’s not awareness that has the limitation but the ‘vehicle’ of the organism. In other words, what THIS (right now) is, is Source/Reality (or pure awareness) presenting as the play of sentient limitation. And with that we are back to the second category.
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Re: Presence

Postby dijmart » Wed May 31, 2017 2:57 am

Hi Rob,

Nice post! I've thought that everyday, original awareness was "reflected" awareness (the experiencing witness), not pure awareness either, then I found that Satsang. It is from 4 years ago, so giving it some more thought I decided to email him tonight. Hopefully, he will clarify. If so, I will share.
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Re: Presence

Postby runstrails » Wed May 31, 2017 7:14 pm

Great posts everyone!

Here is my take--

Our ordinary awareness is typically with reference to objects (thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, silence, etc..). In deep sleep there is awareness but there are no objects for it to reflect off. Any 'experience' of awareness (i.e., the thought I am awareness/presence, I feel aware, becoming present) is an objectification of awareness and as such is a product of the mind.

Pure awareness is more like gravity. it's there all the time, without it you could not be here, but it cannot be experienced as an object. In the same way, you 'know' you are aware (simply because you know you exist) and therefore you 'know' that you cannot be separate from pure awareness. You cannot ever experience this pure awareness as an object, but you know its there otherwise you would not exist.

When the body/mind dies, then its personal awareness of objects will die with it, but that death will take place in pure awareness.

We are always non-dual. That is, we are always pure awareness first and body/mind second. (However, the error is that we place the "I" sense on the reflected awareness (i.e., mind) and not on the pure awareness). This of course applies for any other object in the universe. It's always pure awareness + object. It's a non-dual reality and this is what Advaita Vedanta suggests.

Rob said: n other words, what THIS (right now) is, is Source/Reality (or pure awareness) presenting as the play of sentient limitation. And with that we are back to the second category.

Nicely said. I would just add that even when any visible manifestation is absent, pure awareness (you) are always there.
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