Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

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Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby painBody » Mon Aug 07, 2017 6:30 pm

Eckhart's central message is that we, intelligent beings, can "rise above thought" ... where thought is available as a tool when needed, but is not where we dwell. It's a nice notion, no doubt. But, I find myself seeing, more and more, thought as a weapon, not a tool. It is too powerful a weapon to (completely) overcome, its momentum too great, its capabilities too much to resist for too long.

In other words, what I'm saying is ... you cannot give a child an ice cream cone on a hot day and expect him not to eat it. He may be able to resist it for a while, but sooner or later, he will indulge. If you have taken a vow of lifelong celibacy, it makes no sense for you to be sitting in a strip club. If you are a fanatic advocate of peace, it makes no sense for you to work for Lockheed Martin designing intercontinental ballistic missiles. Because, that way, you go through your whole life resisting or fearing what comes naturally ... needless to say, not a nice way to live. And what is it that comes naturally ? Following the mind wherever it wants to go. If that is natural for humans, how can it possibly be bad/wrong ?

You cannot give a human being a powerful weapon and then expect him/her to resist using it in potentially destructive ways. You can, but you'd be proven wrong. In the unlikely event that you were proven right, it would have taken that person a horrendous amount of effort to resist that temptation, and your being right wouldn't really be worthwhile. Speaking of resistance, Eckhart teaches that it is futile to resist the (form of the) present moment ... is it not futile to resist the mind that wants to resist the (form of the) present moment ? Seems like a huge contradiction.

Don't get me wrong ... I would give up computers, cars, TVs, and airplanes, in a heartbeat, if it meant a more peaceful world. But, the only realistic way to do that, it seems to me, is to eliminate the powerful human mind altogether. Since we cannot eliminate the mind, what's the deal here ?

I sometimes wonder if this whole presence thing is nothing more than a get-rich scheme for some, Eckhart included. "Presence" sounds a whole lot nicer than "resist the mind", so it almost seems like something far uglier that has been gift-wrapped for profit. At the end of the day, ET's sitting on a pornographic pile of cash, and you and I are sitting here trying to figure this shit out. I sometimes wonder if this whole presence thing is nothing more than a painful (and ultimately futile) lifelong exercise in self-restraint. Is "presence" just a euphemism for "resist the mind" or "self-restraint" ? Are we all just children going through life trying to resist an ice cream cone in our hand ?

Let's face it ... if all of us on this forum had actually realized "the truth" (assuming there was something to realize) and were living it, this forum wouldn't exist. Obviously, we are still trying to figure something out. Make no mistake about it - everything we do on this forum is mind stuff ... it has the appearance of being spiritual in nature, but it is mind stuff. If it were truly spiritual, we'd be living it, not needing to discuss it.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Mystic » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:06 pm

Presence is the awesomeness I experience when the mind is still. The beauty of life and little insignificant things like a buzzing bee or the green of plants are truly awesome.

Restraint sounds like a form of resistance and resistance is the ego. My ego still loves to theorize about enlightenment and that is a distraction. I do not know if any of my postings have been helpful so I may need to give up all this distracting theorizing :D
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby painBody » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:48 am

Mystic wrote:Presence is the awesomeness I experience when the mind is still. The beauty of life and little insignificant things like a buzzing bee or the green of plants are truly awesome.

Restraint sounds like a form of resistance and resistance is the ego. My ego still loves to theorize about enlightenment and that is a distraction. I do not know if any of my postings have been helpful so I may need to give up all this distracting theorizing :D


Thank you, Mystic. I appreciate input from anyone and everyone. If I don't respond sometimes, it's because I just don't know what to say.

Yes, there is beauty in small things. But, the question I'm asking here is more general ... presence, a lot of times, feels like it requires effort.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Mystic » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:03 am

painBody wrote: But, the question I'm asking here is more general ... presence, a lot of times, feels like it requires effort.


It requires effort until effort is no longer required :D
Last edited by Mystic on Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Onceler » Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:49 pm

I actually agree with you PB. I also agree with John Sherman who makes the fundamental distinction that it's not thinking but fear that corrupts our minds and once the fear is cleared the mind moves naturally in a constructive and productive fashion. This has been my experience with a growing facility over where to direct my attention and what I want to think about. I can go into 'presence' when I want to but I don't find it' particularly interesting and certainly not stimulating. I would rather use my mind about what I'm curious about, which is generally building things, gardening, moving about and solving problems.

If you're aware of your thinking, as you think, thinking is presence, no?
Be present, be pleasant.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Webwanderer » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:08 pm

What I 'think' you're leaving out of this entire mind control(ing) dilemma is any potential underlying purpose in the human experience itself. Could life here have purpose? Does experience of any kind matter? Is one type of experience more useful to an underlying purpose than another?

If life itself is just so much noise in a random universe, then everything that is is irrelevant. Dust in the wind. (I think I hear a song.) If there is more to existence than meets the physical eye context - some consciousness inclusive of this universe, then we are on an adventure far greater and more interesting than the mind problem that concerns you. Changing one's mind effectively may begin with changing one's context through which to explore it.

WW
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Mystic » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:20 pm

Onceler wrote:I actually agree with you PB. I also agree with John Sherman who makes the fundamental distinction that it's not thinking but fear that corrupts our minds and once the fear is cleared the mind moves naturally in a constructive and productive fashion. This has been my experience with a growing facility over where to direct my attention and what I want to think about. I can go into 'presence' when I want to but I don't find it' particularly interesting and certainly not stimulating. I would rather use my mind about what I'm curious about, which is generally building things, gardening, moving about and solving problems.

If you're aware of your thinking, as you think, thinking is presence, no?


John Sherman is correct. There is fear or tension just below the surface.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby painBody » Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:53 am

Onceler wrote:I actually agree with you PB. I also agree with John Sherman who makes the fundamental distinction that it's not thinking but fear that corrupts our minds and once the fear is cleared the mind moves naturally in a constructive and productive fashion. This has been my experience with a growing facility over where to direct my attention and what I want to think about. I can go into 'presence' when I want to but I don't find it' particularly interesting and certainly not stimulating. I would rather use my mind about what I'm curious about, which is generally building things, gardening, moving about and solving problems.

If you're aware of your thinking, as you think, thinking is presence, no?


That's a great way to look at it, Onceler. I never looked at it this way, so this is an eye opener for me.

The complete absence of thought is not necessary, much less is it interesting/stimulating. There will always be some special moments when the mind stops, like when observing a spectacle of nature or a hummingbird hovering over a plant, and that is great ! But to expect that state to be the predominant state throughout our lives is very naive, and I think a lot of spiritual seekers encounter frustration and perhaps even rebound back into total unconsciousness because they're striving for something that is not very realistic. Hell, I'm sure even Eckhart gets bored of his own preaching every now and then ... but of course, he can't reveal that bit about himself, coz then his book/retreat sales would go down :)

Like you, I value my mind a lot, and I have always put it to creative/productive use ... my several hobby projects over the years. I'm almost always working on some sort of project - either music, or software development, an essay/poem, or learning something. And, I'd be quite bored and miserable without being engaged in that way. The more I ponder this subject, the more I'm coming towards an equilibrium state that is 50/50 on the spectrum between form and formless. I think I had gone too far towards the formless polarity (or tried to), and realized that it's not very realistic/wise.

So, it's not so much the complete absence of thought, but how thought is harnessed and put to use, that might be the wisest approach towards a meaningful life.

Thanks for sharing this amazing tidbit of insight with me !
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby painBody » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:01 am

Webwanderer wrote:What I 'think' you're leaving out of this entire mind control(ing) dilemma is any potential underlying purpose in the human experience itself. Could life here have purpose? Does experience of any kind matter? Is one type of experience more useful to an underlying purpose than another?

If life itself is just so much noise in a random universe, then everything that is is irrelevant. Dust in the wind. (I think I hear a song.) If there is more to existence than meets the physical eye context - some consciousness inclusive of this universe, then we are on an adventure far greater and more interesting than the mind problem that concerns you. Changing one's mind effectively may begin with changing one's context through which to explore it.

WW


Yes, but I'm really beginning to question how much/far we really need to go towards the formless dimension, and how much is even possible.

I'm not saying that we need to attach relevance to everything in form. It is nice to see that ultimately, nothing matters that much. That said, with that wiser perspective, I think that a truly meaningful human life is going to involve a balance between form and formless.

I'm also saying that, from my direct personal experience, constantly observing the mind and ignoring it takes a LOT of effort ! And, that feels like resistance. If resistance is what we're trying to get away from, why should I be resisting what the mind says ? It's a paradox, for sure.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Mystic » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:43 am

painBody wrote:I'm also saying that, from my direct personal experience, constantly observing the mind and ignoring it takes a LOT of effort ! And, that feels like resistance. If resistance is what we're trying to get away from, why should I be resisting what the mind says ? It's a paradox, for sure.


Paradox makes things interesting, yes :) Observing the mind as it plays like a movie, that is what It felt like during this mornings meditation. I was not the thoughts. I did not identify with the thoughts. The mind was on autopilot but it was not me. Presence and mind trade places ...sometimes presence is in the background and sometimes mind is in the background. There are deeper levels of being and there are superficial levels of the mind. Truly creative thought comes from that deeper reality of being.

Awareness of resistance is not the resistance. You are awareness...

Being present is training the mind. Raise your vibration.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15534199/

Practitioners understand "meditation," or mental training, to be a process of familiarization with one's own mental life leading to long-lasting changes in cognition and emotion. Little is known about this process and its impact on the brain. Here we find that long-term Buddhist practitioners self-induce sustained electroencephalographic high-amplitude gamma-band oscillations and phase-synchrony during meditation. These electroencephalogram patterns differ from those of controls, in particular over lateral frontoparietal electrodes. In addition, the ratio of gamma-band activity (25-42 Hz) to slow oscillatory activity (4-13 Hz) is initially higher in the resting baseline before meditation for the practitioners than the controls over medial frontoparietal electrodes. This difference increases sharply during meditation over most of the scalp electrodes and remains higher than the initial baseline in the postmeditation baseline. These data suggest that mental training involves temporal integrative mechanisms and may induce short-term and long-term neural changes.


Become the master of your thoughts and emotions or your thoughts and emotions will be your master...
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby Onceler » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:48 am

painBody wrote:
Yes, but I'm really beginning to question how much/far we really need to go towards the formless dimension, and how much is even possible.

I'm not saying that we need to attach relevance to everything in form. It is nice to see that ultimately, nothing matters that much. That said, with that wiser perspective, I think that a truly meaningful human life is going to involve a balance between form and formless.

I'm also saying that, from my direct personal experience, constantly observing the mind and ignoring it takes a LOT of effort ! And, that feels like resistance. If resistance is what we're trying to get away from, why should I be resisting what the mind says ? It's a paradox, for sure.


I think you're on the right track here, I agree. I am more immersed in form than ever and find it extremely satisfying. Thinking, doing, being.....it's all good and what we're here for, in my opinion.
Be present, be pleasant.
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby DavidB » Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:20 am

We don't overcome the mind through resistance, we overcome the mind through acceptance.

"Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?" No, not at all.

Presence is what we discover when thinking ceases. If we remove the paint from the canvas, we discover a blank white screen. If we remove thought from presence, we have a silent empty presence. The forms on our canvas are always changing, like the forms on television screen. The forms change but we remain the same, this silent emptiness that is presence.

Eckhart says, that if we cannot accept what is happening (the form of this moment) then accept how we feel about it. Which is to say, Eckhart is prescribing acceptance, not resistance.
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ― Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby DavidB » Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:24 am

I think you're on the right track here, I agree. I am more immersed in form than ever and find it extremely satisfying. Thinking, doing, being.....it's all good and what we're here for, in my opinion


Once we know who we are at the deepest level, there is nothing left to do but play with form and playing with form can be immensely satisfying. Enjoy.
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, Love is knowing I am everything, and between the two my life moves.” ― Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby painBody » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:33 am

DavidB wrote:We don't overcome the mind through resistance, we overcome the mind through acceptance.

"Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?" No, not at all.

Presence is what we discover when thinking ceases. If we remove the paint from the canvas, we discover a blank white screen. If we remove thought from presence, we have a silent empty presence. The forms on our canvas are always changing, like the forms on television screen. The forms change but we remain the same, this silent emptiness that is presence.

Eckhart says, that if we cannot accept what is happening (the form of this moment) then accept how we feel about it. Which is to say, Eckhart is prescribing acceptance, not resistance.


All of what you're saying, in my experience, sounds true but isn't necessarily/always true. I know what Eckhart is saying, but that is just how it is presented to us. He calls it acceptance. The experience of it often doesn't feel like acceptance ... it feels like resistance ... constantly watching the mind and ignoring most of what it says ... it takes a lot of energy. He calls it relaxed alertness, but it doesn't always feel that way. Watching the mind is work ! It would be easier to just go with the flow of whatever the mind says, without watching it all the time.

Yes, I'm not suggesting that, if the mind says we should go kill someone, that we should tag along ... no. I'm just saying that watching the mind is not as effortless and peaceful as Eckhart makes it out to be ... in my experience.

I'm just trying to point out that there is a disconnect between the theory and reality of what Eckhart teaches. I'm not going to believe something just because Eckhart (or anyone else) says so, without putting it to the test. The only real test of it is applying it in real life and seeing how it turns out. Without living it, none of what Eckhart teaches is of any value whatsoever ... in fact, without applying it, listening to him is a total waste of time and we'd all be better off going about our unconscious daily routines like "frightened chickens".
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Re: Is presence really just self-restraint in disguise ?

Postby rachMiel » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:31 pm

painBody wrote:Without living it, none of what Eckhart teaches is of any value whatsoever ... in fact, without applying it, listening to him is a total waste of time ...

Maybe listening to teachings plants seeds that can, when the time is right, sprout and mature into living the teachings?
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
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