It’s Not What You Think It Is
(You keep talking about the state of presence as the key. I think I understand itintellectually, but I don’t know if I have ever truly experienced it. I wonder – is it what I think it is, or is it something entirely different?)
It’s not what you think it is! You can’t think about presence, and the mind can’tunderstand it. Understanding presence is being present. Try a little experiment. Close your eyes and say to yourself: “I wonder what my next thought is going to be.” Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole?
Try it now.
( I had to wait for quite a long time before a thought came in.)
Exactly. As long as you are in a state of intense presence, you are free of thought.You are still, yet highly alert. The instant your conscious attention sinks below a certain level, thought rushes in. The mental noise returns; the stillness is lost. You are back in time. To test their degree of presence, some Zen masters have been known to creep up on their students from behind and suddenly hit them with a stick. Quite a shock! If the student had been fully present and in a state of alertness, if he had “kept his loin girded and his lamp burning,” which is one of the analogies that Jesus uses for presence, he would have noticed the master coming up from behind and stopped him or stepped aside. But if he were hit, that would mean he was immersed in thought,which is to say absent, unconscious. To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself, otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river.
(What do you mean by “rooted within yourself”?)
It means to inhabit your body fully. To always have some of your attention in the inner energy field of your body. To feel the body from within, so to speak. Body awareness keeps you present. It anchors you in the Now.