Chapter Nine – “Noticing Presence”

I ask, “I’m wondering about the old admonition, ‘Disciple, know thyself’, inscribed on the Temple at Delphi. Philosophers and spiritual teachers down the ages have advised us to ask the question, ‘Who am I?’ So, I’ve asked that question, but I don’t have a satisfying answer yet.”

V watches me silently, nodding. I continue, “Of course, I can describe myself with many different labels, roles, or achievements. But it’s not who I really am, not down inside my psyche. At the same time, mysteriously I do have a sense that I know who I am. If I go deeply enough within, I sense a living presence at my core. I certainly recognize my own being and perspective on life—my own awareness; I just can’t put a tangible description on what it is, who it is.”

V answers, “You don’t know and yet you do know. It is paradox, of course. Nevertheless, understanding this can be quite simple. Your not knowing is in the mind; that’s all. The heart is the place to know who and what you truly are: It knows that you are truth itself, the essence of Source.

“The reason you cannot find satisfactory explanations of who you really are is the same one that keeps you from capturing the pure truth of anything. The truth of you—of all—has no form; no words can contain it. It exists without a framework for the mind or ego to hold as information. The essence cannot be captured in formation. Essence has no handles or boundaries! The ego-mind wants to grasp understanding. There is nothing in ‘truth’ or in the deep ‘self’ to grab and hold onto. It’s like trying to limit the flow of air inside a birdcage.

“Appreciation of the paradox of knowing-yet-not-knowing opens us up beyond the mind. If you look at the two sides of knowing as one and the same state in essence, you sidestep the mind and leave it flaccid and porous. The embrace of this paradox is your ultimate liberation. This is the fullness of empathy.”

My uneasiness makes me ask, “Why does this make me feel so uncomfortable? It seems like it sends me forever in circles, chasing my tail. ‘Who am I? I don’t know. Who am I? I do know—in my heart. Yet I cannot say.’ Why not? Why can’t some words be put on it?”

“Because words cannot contain the liberation that lives at your core. Think about it: Why would you want to circumscribe liberation with trifling words or thoughts? This is the great, grand Life of Source. Yes, we do put words—pointers—on it. But it is very important to realize these words are inadequate and ultimately unsatisfying to our questing spirit. The very words ‘Source’ and ‘Life’ are totally insufficient, except to point our awareness in a direction of awakening. Any word is. That is fine, as long as we sense and know inwardly that there is a state of being that far transcends the pointer. It is right to hold ideas in the mind about deeper truths that cannot be spoken, as long as we realize these ideas are only introductory symbols.”

I respond, “Someone once said that ‘a map is not the land’. But it can be useful nonetheless.”

“Indeed. Maps are worthwhile as tools, but they do not replace the act of walking the paths of life.”

“I don’t have a good segue here, but I’d like to change the subject and tell you about something I’m experiencing lately—just the last few days really.”

“Yes. I can sense what you’re feeling. And it is not really a change of subject.”

“Well, it’s about presence. And I guess that pertains to any subject.”

“Precisely. Tell me what’s happening.”

“I am starting to actually feel presence in a way I never have before.”

“I’m very happy about this.” V sounds more excited. “I can sense it in your energy field. But before I tell you what I’m seeing, please describe it for yourself.”

“OK. Uh, words will be inadequate, no question about that. Hah, that’s the ‘segue’ I was looking for—words are only map symbols for this. In any case, I have a feeling of subtle expansion. I can will it to be, sort of. It’s like of a parallel awareness, a ‘presence’—like an invisible living entity that’s inside me, that is me. It’s like a field of consciousness that is standing behind, or around my thoughts and actions and words. It slips away from my awareness often, but when I notice, I can will it to return. Truly, it depends on being in the Now, like you’ve all been saying forever.”

“Tell me more about what it’s like. How do you will it to be? When you put words on your experience, you will draw up the presence more into your mind and into our dialogue here. Creating the metaphor can point you to the reality. Draw the map for me.”

“I know—segue again—words will be pointers. It feels like, well, sort of like an invisible, intangible ‘mantle’ on my shoulders. Not really, but somehow that gives me a sense of it. It’s surrounding me on the inside! It’s the matrix of my thinking and feeling awareness. But it is clearly not thinking. When this is happening, my thoughts fall away; they become transparent and irrelevant. And when I will it to arise, it’s simultaneously an allowing; it’s like a combination of will and allow—‘willow’.

I chuckle at my pun and continue, “You know, I’m sensing that the pointer-words are more than simple words. They’re like special words. They have some of the Life that radiates out of the essence. They do more than merely ‘point’; they can lead us as well.”

“You’ve revealed something important here,” V encourages. “I myself have never put it that way. But it is true. The ‘pointer-words’ are imbued with presence. They provide a seed-link to essence. So, what have you found for yourself through this linkage? What effect does it have on your thinking and your interactions?”

“Good question, V. It really calms me down and puts space into my actions. And, as I said, the thoughts become more transparent and unimportant. They’re there if I need them to speak, or work, or remember something, but they seem to be much less significant than I used to think they were; they’re just devices to me now. I’ve spent so much time in my life ‘lost in thought’, dependent on my thoughts for awareness, thinking that thoughts are all there is to my awareness. Now I see it’s just the other way around; and it always has been. If I had only known!

“I haven’t really been doing this long enough to be able to describe it well. But my thinking is really being affected. My surroundings are affected too. People seem to be reacting toward me differently. It’s too early to say much more about that. I will watch and see if it bears fruit.”

“Are you concerned that it might go away and not return?”

“Yes and no, but not really this time. That’s part of what’s so gratifying about it. It relieves my fears. I simply know it’s there. If the presence slips away—back into the deep—I know it will come back when it’s ready. It’s always there; and it always has been. It exists outside of time and beyond form. Yet it is so alive. It is the essence of alive. I know this. I want to know more, to experience more of it. Is that ‘wanting’ a bad thing? Can wanting more presence and awareness be a limiting factor?”

She replies, “Yes, it can, but not if you notice what’s happening. Go ahead and want, but notice that you’re wanting. Bring the presence into it. You will then know that you need not want. Nothing is lacking. All is unfolding as it is destined to be. Presence gives you every answer, releases every lack. It gives you total patience and the ability to be with what you have, to know that time is only a passageway for realization. Presence brings all time into your life. It steps out of ‘no time’ into ‘your time’ with the essentials of Life. This is the beginning of real Life for you!

“Pause more often and notice when you’re not thinking. You will find that you already experience freedom from thought much more than you realize. Do not analyze it, however, by thinking about it. Simply accept it into your awareness. You can feel it with the presence you have described. Notice the tendency you have to think about any piece of awareness that arises. This is a particularly human trait. See that you have a split-second choice to enter thought or not. Not entering thought means that you float free around the information; the thought may be there, but you are not captivated by it. The free-floating is presence.”

“Yeah,” I nod. “I get it.”

“When unnoticed, thought in humans tends to submerge the awareness in endless churning and jerking from one piece of information to the next. Awareness, being ever curious, will gladly flow into the thought river and feel at one with it; it is a short, unconscious step then to identifying with that river. But that is a false identity. Humans have benefitted greatly in their evolution by identifying with thinking. It gave your awareness an excellent tool for exploration and experimentation. But you are not the tool, not the mind. For most of your history, humans have not even questioned that premise.

“Use thought in reverse now; let thoughts tie you back into the non-thought of presence. As you have a thought, let it be. Notice it and open it up as a pointer, but do not allow your awareness to be drowned by it. If you wish, let thinking be a seed-link into non-thought. Let it trigger the awareness of freedom from thought. Thought then may become a passage into presence and into fully conscious being.”

I hold up my hand, like in a schoolroom. I’m feeling a challenge coming to my mind. “I want to argue on behalf of creative thought. Listening to all of you, and also Eckhart Tolle, one might get the impression that nothing good ever comes from thinking.”

“You are correct,” V reacts. “It might seem so. However, there is indeed room in the process of spiritual awakening for creative thought. The intellect can facilitate many worthwhile forms. It can indeed be used very creatively, even ingeniously. The only problem is when intellect takes on airs and starts believing it is better than awareness itself; it even believes that it is consciousness in its entirety.

“I find it curious that many scientists of your day argue—with their minds—that the mind is simply an epiphenomenon of biochemical activity in the tissues of the brain, that it has been derived from nothing more than animated physical matter. At the same time, they argue that mind is the ultimate limit of consciousness, that there is nothing to our awareness other than the mind.

“For these scientists all awareness is a biological reaction. Thus, their theories and pronouncements—their conclusions about mind and consciousness—are nothing more than chemical side effects in action; they have no intrinsic meaning or psychic substantiality. This is the absurdity, in your age, of over-thinking and over-reliance on thought. It simply doesn’t make sense in the end. It does not hold up under the scrutiny of the observing, appreciating awareness.”

I sigh, “It seems that logic is outwitting itself. They want so much to understand what thinking means that they end up defining it as something that doesn’t really exist. All human science and knowledge are rendered to be mere ‘epiphenomena of biochemical activity’.”

“Indeed,” V continues. “There is a simple function of awareness—noticing—that is not thinking; it is simpler and purer than thought. Noticing is the key to presence. It is through this means that presence manifests in our awareness. Presence notices continuously, endlessly. As we notice presence we are mirroring it into itself. In so doing, we are inviting it into our field of awareness.

“Whenever we notice anything, we are placing our attention, alertness and vitality into it; we are placing the attention of presence into it. We invest it with the momentary energy of Life. We can feel it in the very vibrations and sensation of livingness. But it is not a physical sensing, nor an emotional feeling; nor is it a mental process. It is what O called the ‘other’ awareness. It is the original awareness we know to be consciousness itself.”

I exhale, my mind restless again. “I know that if I were truly linked into full consciousness, I would not need to ask any more questions. But I’m not, so I have another question. Each moment of time seems distinct to me. How is it that there is only one moment in all this experience of distinct periods of time?”

“It appears we are back to our discourse on time. You speak of an illusion. If you stop and notice, in your so-called ‘real time’ there are no truly distinct segments; there are no breaks. The mind constructs what it may choose to see as beginnings and endings, but none really do exist. One ‘period’ does not stop and another starts.

“While actions, thoughts and forms begin and end, time itself is not constructed with boundaries between one ‘moment’ and the next, any more than the Now is. This should give you a clue: Time is based in endlessness. Time, as humans know it, is a mental creation for the purposes of distinguishing one event from another, ‘so that everything doesn’t happen at once’, as Albert Einstein put it.”

I nod. “I’ve heard that; and it certainly seems true, especially in mathematical physics. But I guess I always assumed time had these discrete moments. What you’ve pointed out about time not having any ‘breaks’ really does help me understand the everlasting Now. If there are no breaks in time, then there can only be one, infinitely connected moment—forever. And that makes ‘a moment in time’ an illogical proposition.”

“It is logical to the mind, but not to the logos.”

I push on, “But let me ask how this one, endless moment really works. How does it relate to events that come and go? From the mental point of view, it still appears that time is demarcated by hours and minutes, starts and stops, not just one overarching state of progression. We think in terms of discrete times.”

V answers, “The key is in the words you used: It ‘appears’ to be ‘discrete’, demarcated. But this is only because the mind is built to analyze and separate. It cannot understand an endless, holistic flow. Let’s go back to the eating analogy—the mind needs bite-sized pieces it can swallow and digest. When you free yourself to move beyond mind, you are looking from the opposite end of the telescope, though the lens of synthesis instead of analysis. The view becomes unbroken and whole.

“You are so accustomed to seeing through the narrow end of the mind’s lens that you do not register the greater presence. Even most of your eminent philosophers and scientists are still prisoners of thought. But presence is always, eternally there—silently providing all the vitality and ingenuity they have and enjoy. Realizing presence reveal’s the oneness of all ‘moments’ and it reveals the unending timelessness of all times.”

I reply, “I have been feeling the presence strongly all week, but today it’s not so strong in me. Can you tell me why that would be?”

“It is not surprising that you would sense some fluctuations in the field at this stage in your awakening. Simply relax and notice whatever is—in you and around you. Let me repeat for emphasis: Be aware that presence is not a feeling; it’s not a thought, as you well know by now. You cannot register it with your physical or mental senses. It is not a form. You cannot even be aware of it, except as awareness itself. Yet with the other awareness, you know it is real—more real than any feeling or sense or thought. This is what we have described, in your previous writings, as the foundational ‘sensation’.”

“So how do I know it at all? How do I know it’s real?”

“You know it to be real—to be reality itself—by identification with it. Knowing is the intimate realization of reality—through identity. It is the Now, the spaciousness, the stillness. This is what you are. Recall the flame beings from our trip together to the sky cathedral in your last book?”

The memory flashes to my mind. “Yes. That was so beautiful and full of presence! Identification was the process the flame people used for communication, by superimposing and infusing their awareness into one another.”

V agrees, “‘Yes. By superimposing your awareness into another being, you intimately realize the essence in both of you. This is the connotation in the Hindu greeting, ‘namaste’.”

“Do you have to have ‘forms’ for this to work?” I wonder.

“Yes. This is an example of how form works with formlessness. But there must be transcendence of form for the identification to occur. There must be a union into Oneness. Your form cannot truly know anything of reality. It cannot know truth. Yet the form can inform formlessness—as a pointer.”

“Come again?” I ask.

“Your mind and body senses cannot truly know formlessness, but they can invoke it by inference. Seed-links work in this way. What I just said about formlessness is a seed-link that points to identification as a means of communication—and, importantly, as a means of recognizing presence, which is communion.”

I reply immediately, “I already know what you mean. I think this may be coming through ‘identification’, as you say.”

“Yes. A seed-link can be an immediate revelation and recognition—an identification. What, may I ask, is it revealing to you?”

“It’s telling me that a seed-link is the same as a pointer-word. The ‘specialness’ each of them has is the association they have with formlessness. Using seed-links or pointers can lead us to the formless, even though they are forms. Forms, of course, derive from formlessness; there is an inborn linkage.”

V answers, “Yes. And going deeper still into the seed, we can say that Source generates Life, not the other way around. Life does not generate Source.”

“Whoa. That’s a statement! Is it just a one-way street then? Does creation only go in one direction? Source to Life and not Life to Source?”

“From where we are now, in a duality awareness, the answer is ‘yes’. However, on deeper turns of the spiral there are other answers. Let that be sufficient for now. It is more important here that we talk about the ways to live the Life of Source than to know the esoteric origins of everything. Living this Life is what we are about in this world.”

ⓒ 2014 Robert Lee Potter

CLICK HERE and you will find all the chapters posted from Life of Source. I will be updating each week with new chapters till we reach the end of the book. It will then be available for download from this site. Stay Tuned…

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