Presence and being – Part 2

Photo: Alexey Novitsky, Ukraine

Photography: Alexey Novitsky, Ukraine

Presence – can you feel it? Give it a try now!

Let’s start this article by demonstrating to ourselves something of the flavour and experience of presence – the knowledge of our being: At the end of this paragraph, the word ‘feeling’ will appear. As soon as your visual awareness lands on that word ‘feeling’, keep your eyes fixed softly upon it. As you do so, draw that same awareness – the sight of the word ‘feeling’ – back into yourself as if zooming out telescopically whilst at the same time sustaining your awareness of the visible word. Take about 3 or 4 seconds to do this and then sense the newly arisen ‘feeling’.

Naturalising presence is simple and easy . . .

It may take a few attempts to get the hang of this, so just relax and take your time until you feel comfortable with the task and are clearly able to sense that newly arisen feeling of presence. As you develop this simple skill, it’s worth bearing in mind that in order to cultivate presence, we have simply to allow it to be; we don’t fabricate it. Initially, there’s a contrived spreading-out of attention as we zoom out telescopically so as to include a sense of ourselves in the awareness; but this sense of contrivance soon drops away as the skill becomes naturalised.

. . . we merely allow it to be; that’s all we do

Unlikely as it may sound, it’s so that in naturalising this simple skill, we make an important advance in being able to engage more deeply in the phenomenal world that we narratively and perhaps casually take to be ‘my life’. We’ve learnt that presence arises when we simply allow it to be, and can now apply a multitude of variations upon the theme just practiced. The first step is to clearly identify a physical object of awareness – sights and sounds work best at first – then gently draw that same awareness of the attended-to object back into a sense of our being.

Presence is neither subject nor object; it’s just being

It’s worth noting that presence – that subtle and silent knowledge of our being – does not of itself see the world as a dualistic play of subject and object. It’s not, of itself, creating a self-centric knowledge of the kind which assumes an existent self or subject – ‘me’ – looking out to a world constructed and populated with objects of otherness – ‘you’ or ‘it’. As self-entity is therefore not intrinsic, then this is why it was said in Part 1 that ‘self-awareness’ is a little misleading as a synonym for presence. It’s neither awareness of any sensory object, nor of any entity of selfhood.

It’s a fundamental knowledge; not just an idea . . .

So presence is knowledge we have of our own being; it’s how we know we’re present and participating in life and the world. It isn’t the sense of selfhood, which is explained elsewhere on the site, but is much more fundamental. Presence is a knowledge we possess of our being which isn’t reliant upon ideas, concepts, or any narrative of selfhood. In that sense it’s a silent, still, and pacified form of knowledge. It’s the sense of ‘I am-ness’ that exists independently of any mental activity. It’s our body knowing itself directly, unmediated by representations or imagery.

. . . not the self, nor any state of being . . .

This means presence isn’t a mood or mental state, which are both representations of the mind/body system. Presence exists prior to the overlay of any sense of self, of verbal thought, of overt feeling, of recalled memory, of emotional mood or idea. Once again, presence isn’t conditional upon anything whilst in being; we simply grant its existence in an acknowledgment. This is achieved with remarkable simplicity, as we’ve just proven. It doesn’t lend itself to description, and resists representation in aware memory, and yet it’s always readily actualised.

. . . but pure and spacious being itself . . .

There is in the granting acknowledgment of presence a sense that we’re creating air and space for our mental world to occupy. Attendant with that, we gain a further sense that the shackles of our formerly narrow awareness are being loosened. The perspective has shifted and yet we haven’t lost the phenomenal awareness with which we navigate and make sense of the world. The perspectival shift is so very important because with that we become less prone to entrancement by sensory objects, less distracted by unhelpful, energy-sapping aspects of our life.

. . . ever available, ever present, timeless being

Elsewhere on this site, we’ll discuss the refining of the application of presence so as to enable access to a pre-conceptual, or ‘no-thing-ness’, state of mind; the purpose of that being in order to – through direct experience – contextualise and broaden perspective to our understanding of the myriad functional mind processes presented to awareness in ‘thing-ness’. This too will be a straightforward and un-mysterious skill to develop, though it’ll be a novel experience for many readers. For now though, we can bring presence to any moment of life.

 

19 thoughts on “Presence and being – Part 2

    • Thank you Meg, for reading both this and the first part of the article; I greatly appreciate it. Thank you also for letting me know that the picture choices meet with your approval; as an artist yourself, your visual sense is far more sophisticated than mine of course.

      Still, I try to select photographic images that add a human feel to what are, at times, my rather dry words. The abstract paintings, that are the other means of my displaying visual imagery here, have met with the approval of many visitors, somewhat to my surprise.

      Hariod. ❤

  1. I’m trying to wrap my mind around this Hariod. I know there’s something here that I need to grasp, because I sense I haven’t gone there, but need to – if you know what I mean.

    • Thank you so much for your interest in this modest offering of mine Don. It’s quite possible that the manner in which I formulate in words these ontological matters doesn’t chime with you directly; I wouldn’t know. I have to write on this subject so as to, hopefully, remain unambiguous and also whilst allowing for a wide variety of interpretation – each character type bringing a unique reconceptualization to my own thoughts of course. I have found that with a little practise, the experiment at the top of this article works for everyone, though when it comes it is sudden, and the feeling quite obvious; it’s a little “aha!” moment, so to speak.

      Thank you once again for your interest and for your feedback Don,

      With very best wishes.

      Hariod.

  2. This method was very helpful to me, Hariod. I’m a little like Don in that I tend to lose my understanding in words! Any further simple ‘keys’ to methods would be welcome. You may notice that my own writing style is quite terse and simple! Sometimes I wish I could be more erudite, but am not wired that way. You have such important wisdom to impart but I am struggling a little. 😊

    • Many thanks for sailing through one of my offerings here Poppy; your interest is deeply appreciated as always. Both you and Don are quite right to pull me up on my rather formal mode of expression and of which I am aware; though as I said in response to Don above, I write in an attempt to remain unambiguous and also whilst allowing for each character type to bring their unique reconceptualization to my own thoughts, as they must.

      So, I try to chart a course through these waters which attempts to encompass and allow for those that want a rigorous, logical and perhaps rather dry explanation, with those that work better more intuitively or instinctively – picking up the pieces for themselves, so to speak. For this reason, I have what I call ‘pages’ of content which tend to be more demanding; and then I make my monthly or bi-monthly ‘posts’ which tend to be more anecdotal and which are a little easier to digest – hopefully! o_O

      I have noted Poppy, that you have only read the former (as accessed through the menu icon) and as far as I am aware, have not read any of the posts (as accessed from the home page: https://contentedness.net/ see middle column: ‘A post to stimulate’). Then again, it may just be that either writing style is not to your tastes and that would be entirely understandable! 😥 Maybe you might give it one last shot with these two posts Poppy: http://wp.me/p4wkZJ-bc and http://wp.me/p4wkZJ-9J

      Wishing you all the very best dear Viking Queen.

      Hariod. ❤

      P.S. Your paperback has been dispatched apparently; so I will begin to read it very soon!

      • I understand your method, Hariod, and it’s no refection on you that I struggle with the more academic prose. My intellect just can’t handle it! Yes, I am intuitive by nature and favour very simple, graphic examples such as your ‘feeling’ one at the beginning of this piece. I do understand your approach, I think. I remember reading somewhere that the Tibetan Buddhist path was elaborate in nature to deal with the complicated ‘Western’ mind set; hence the many rituals necessary to unwind the ego mind and make it redundant. Of course, I don’t know if what I heard is accurate, or not!

        I have looked at some of your other material, but at present am interested in your main theme. I am finding your site very interesting indeed and am always ready to evolve in the field of consciousness. I enjoy your heartfelt approach that radiates so much compassion and humility, as opposed to the more brutal, ‘nihilistic’ vision such as ‘it is what it is, so what’s the point?’

        You’ve probably guessed that I am a romantic that loves the elemental passion of life in all its beauty and ugliness; however, a great part of it is a thirst for peace and contemplation. I actually spend a lot of time in silence and alone, probably more than the high octane adventuring that defines my viking nature! I guess it suits me.

        Have you ever considered writing a ‘Contemplation for Dummies’ type book, with graphic examples for right-brained folk? That would be wonderful! Please don’t change a thing, I love your site and am looking forward to a winter of immersion! Poppy. X

        • Thank you for this response Poppy; it’s really lovely to engage with you. As to your opening comment, I can say nothing much about Tibetan Buddhism I’m afraid; though am sure your observations are quite correct in any case. My own training was in Vipassana Buddhism of the so-called ‘Dry Insight’ kind, which does away with ritual, ceremony, chanting and all such cultural accretions as propagated in the Tibetan form. There are some quite wonderful Tibetan texts though, and one in particular – The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation – is quite exhilarating in some of its descriptive passages. Most of my study has been of the orthodox Theravadin doctrine, commentaries thereon, as well as an array of Zen texts, Classical Advaita and other bits and bobs.

          Thank you also for your book-writing suggestion, which I’ll take with the pinch of sea salt that you kindly offered along with it. 😉 I am afraid it is so that I am stuck with my rather formal and perhaps overly wordy style; I simply would not be confident enough to deviate from what is natural to me in order to accommodate what may well be a wider readership. I did in fact have a book published a couple of years ago; though I must confess it suffers the same problem you have identified. Those few who have managed to wade through it tell me they have found it rewarding; though they do indeed remain few in numbers! 😥 If you have a wee bit of space on your mobile or floating bookshelf I would be very happy to post you a gratis copy of it to sit unread there in dignified purposelessness. 😕 If you would like to take me up on this futile offer then just email me with a forwarding address and I will gladly oblige dear Poppy.

          Hariod. ❤

          • Dear Hariod, I understand fully, but don’t undervalue your work. I will order a copy when I return to Sweden (I’m homeless right now and have no mail address either!) and pay you for it as is right and proper. My own development involves brushing up in areas where I need to evolve. The cerebral path won’t do me any harm. Serendipity has bought us here, my friend, and action on my part is called for!

            • I would feel uncomfortable with you paying for my book Poppy; though I quite understand that you may be reluctant to let a comparative stranger have an address for you. If there is some neutral point in Sweden that it could be delivered to, then just let me know; I am as happy to post it there as anywhere in this country. The title costs little enough as an e-Book, though I really am not a fan of that medium; so if you were going to tackle it at all, then do consider my offer which I make to you with an open heart and open hands. H ❤

              [You may access my email address from your dashboard; it is attached to any comments I have made.]

  3. No, I would be happy to give you an address, Hariod 😊 it would be a privilege to receive a copy of your book. Let me return first though and I’ll ask a friend if she will help. Thank you for your kind offer, my friend! 😘

  4. I truly believe this is the finest blog I’ve ever come across Hariod. I can read and re-read passages, and find more and more second time (or more) around. It is as a cool ocean to swim in. Finding you has been perfectly timed for Sonmi and her Cloud. ❤

    Sonmi upon the Cloud

    • Well, I am immensely flattered by your words Sonmi, so much so that I hardly can think of how to respond. Being unaccustomed to receiving such generous offerings of appreciation, a part of me feels as if it wants to remain in an embarrassed yet deeply gratified silence. That would be ungracious in the extreme though, so instead I will utilise a diversionary tactic and let you into a secret I have harboured these past few weeks. That is to say, I feel the same way about your own blog.

      H ❤

  5. I’m going to choose an object and settle myself. For many reasons this post feels like a gift. Thank you Hariod.

    • Thank you very much Willow-Marie, for expressing an interest in this article. It can be helpful now and again to read the words of another and try something a little different; it seems to keep things fresh and sustains the overall objective does it not? Thank you for showing a willingness to give my own modest offering a try; I greatly appreciate it.

      With very best wishes and respect,

      Hariod.

  6. Hariod, I’ve read the selfhood post and I liken it to identity, more or less. I like how you’ve separated presence from self-awareness. Self-awareness requires thought, while it seems that presence doesn’t? I know that I need to practice simply being. I’m sure the challenge comes from years of teaching about the importance of doing something.

  7. Thankyou very much Kathy, for your interest and engagement. The terms I use in my writings here and elsewhere are more-or-less particular to myself, and I do make certain distinctions that others do not. These are not meant to denote different ontological, or objectively discrete, categories, but are aids to comprehension more than anything.

    So, when we talk about selfhood, we can either be referring to the social construct which gives rise to our various dramaturgical performances – e.g. as being Dr. Garland, as being KG, as being Kathy, as being a wife, a lover, an internet persona, and so on – or we can be referring to that inner sense of autonomy that persists throughout all these altogether necessary and adaptive constructs. They’re not two discrete entities, but two perspectives on the one individual; the one outwardly readable by others, the other a subjective intuition we have of ourselves. The first I term a Social Construct, the second I term a Self-Entity.

    Similarly, where many writers refer solely to ‘Consciousness’ as signifying the mental world, then I break this down into three aspects: ‘Consciousness’ as mental objects of knowledge, which are the psychical representations of the brain. ‘Awareness’ as the illuminative aspect of consciousness, which is itself objectless in the way that light alone reveals no objects. And lastly ‘Presence’, which is the feeling of engagement, the feeling of I-am-ness, the feeling of being integral to all that is perceived and experienced. Presence is not the idea about being engaged with the world; it is the pure perception of being so. In that sense it is not a mentally constructed representation as is consciousness, but is more direct and proprioceptive, or feeling-based.

    To some, I probably seem to make it all it all sound more complicated than it is in actuality, but I have learned that it is helpful to make such distinctions in untangling the web of how the world presents to us and how we present to the world. Of course, people have written entire books on the matter of selfhood, or on consciousness, and to some degree we can define these things as we wish. It isn’t a case of there being only one accurate way of thinking of consciousness, or of beingness, but rather adopting a template that suits oneself and yet remaining cognisant of the fact it is just that – a template or schema for understanding.

    Thankyou once again Kathy; I appreciate your presence. And incidentally, you have found your way to the rather drier parts of my site, the ‘pages’, which are different in flavour to my occasional ‘posts’ – they being more anecdotal and looser. I post these about once every 7 or 8 weeks so as not to impose myself overly on those kind folk who subscribe here. If you are curious, then this last post of mine will give you a more accurate flavour of what I do here: http://wp.me/p4wkZJ-ek

    With all best wishes,

    Hariod.

  8. I don’t always understand what you are saying, Hariod, but I reserve the right to say that you say it beautifully. It’s just a shame I’m so ignorant at times when it comes to your writing, but as I like to think that we are ‘old friends’ now, and that it doesn’t really matter if I ‘get it’ or not, at least it’s fun trying to get to grips with it all. 🙂 It’s a lovely way to spend an autumnal Saturday morning with the sun beaming through my windows, savouring your words.

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