The Simplicity of Presence
Presence is our natural state. The only way we can leave it, is by thinking our way out.
How to Coach Yourself Using these Wisdom Quotes:
Give yourself time to go through each point slowly
Consider your answers to any questions
Explore the links but come back to this page until you finish all the points
Pay particular attention to anything that touches your heart
1. An Intimate Relationship Between You and What Is Here
"In order to become present, to come out of the mind, to come out of thought, to come out of illusion, you just bring yourself very, very present with something that's here in the moment with you.
If you can see it, hear it, taste it, touch it or smell it in this moment, then you can be present with it. The moment you're truly present with something that's here, thoughts stop all by themselves - you're not trying to accomplish that, it just happens.
You're not trying to hold onto presence. You're just remembering that each moment is a new moment and so you're present in this moment. You're just present with what is here.
You can close your eyes and be present with your body breathing. You can be present with the sound you hear, present with the feeling of air on your face. Who is present, aware of the body breathing? I am. Feelings might arise. Who is feeling the feeling? I am. Who is present in the feeling? I am.
A thought might arise. Who is aware of that thought arising? I am. I'm not for the thought or against the thought. I just witness it. I don't follow it. I just come back to being present with what is here. Then I can open my eyes and I'm present with what I see. I'm still present with what I hear, what I feel, taste, touch, smell.
While I'm in the dining hall, having dinner, I'm present with the taste of the food. But I'm also present in my movement. As I walk down to the dining hall or to my bedroom, I can actually be present in the movement of my legs, in the movement of my body.
Everything becomes present within me. Even as I turn my neck this way, there's a certain level of consciousness in the movement, or if I move my hands... This is what it means to be present.
And you'll feel it. You'll feel everything become silent and settle within you and everything around you becomes more alive, more vibrant, more lit from within, more illuminated, more present. You feel the Oneness. And the more deeply present you are, the more finely tuned into presence you are, the more you feel that oneness, the more you feel that presence, it'll start to feel like heaven on earth.
But it's up to you. It's your experience. It's really between you and the present moment. It's your secret relationship. It's your private relationship between you and whatever is in the present moment. It's very intimate."
~Leonard Jacobson, from the video: Being Present
I'd like you to begin by dropping all your concepts about presence, being present, practicing presence etc. Be like a blank page, open and empty, ready to receive fresh light.
Now notice what's in the moment with you:
Close your eyes and be present with your body breathing.
Now be present with the sounds you hear.
Open your eyes and be present with what you see.
Touch something and be present with that.
Isn't it beautifully simple to be present? As you go about your day, notice what's in the moment with you.
2. Choosing to Be Present
"Look around the room. Be present with something you see right now. It could be a flower, or leaf, a chair, or anything else you see in the room. Or you could be present with the sound you hear.
Everything that is in the present moment is inviting you to be present with it.
The moment you are truly present, thoughts stop and your mind falls silent. The past drops away, revealing the present moment as it is, free of your ideas, opinions, beliefs and projections. Now you are awake in the truth of life, and this will continue for as long as you remain present.
Each moment you have a choice. Do you choose to be present, or do you allow yourself to wander off into endless unconscious thought? This choice is at the very heart of free will, and your life will be radically affected depending on which choice you make.
The more you choose to be present, the more Presence flowers within you.
At first, Presence is delicate and it will be difficult to remain present. But each moment that you are present nurtures the seed of Presence.
There are so many opportunities to be present each day. Whenever there is no need to be thinking, bring yourself present. Be present as you wash the dishes. Be present as you have a shower or go for a walk. It is that simple.
Gradually the seed of Presence will flower within you and you will find yourself becoming more and more established in Presence."
~Leonard Jacobson, from the article: Nurturing the Seed of Presence
What concepts do you have, what thoughts do you believe about how difficult it is to be present? How often have you heard people say they struggle to practice mindfulness or to stop thinking?
Consider for a moment all the ideas you've built up around this subject over the years. Are you willing to let them go right now and begin with a fresh prespective of Presence?
"The moment you are truly present, thoughts stop and your mind falls silent." Could it really be that simple? Try it and see. "Everything that is in the present moment is inviting you to be present with it." Perhaps it's not as difficult as we thought.
When will you choose to be present today? While you're washing the dishes? Or walking somewhere? Become aware of the fact that, every time you choose to be present, you nurture the seed of Presence within you.
3. Remembering Where the Truth of Life Is
"But the question that we humans have to deal with is: Well, that sounds great, but it’s not so easy to remain present as I live my life, as I go to work, as I participate in my relationships.
So, how can I liberate myself from this prison that is the world of the human thinking mind? How can I liberate myself from the domination of the ego? How can I liberate myself from a limited and painful past or an anxious or hopeful future? How can I liberate myself and relax, and settle, and become established in the awakened state of presence?
So that, even as I play in the world of time, I never really disconnect from the truth of life revealed through this moment. I never go too far, because I know it’s a world of illusion. I can play in that world of illusion but I don’t get lost there anymore. That’s the awakened state. That’s living an awakened life.
And the great irony is, that just being present, every moment you’re present, it gradually transforms your life in the world of time. By transcending the story, it transforms the story.
And you don’t have to do anything other than remember where the truth of life is. It is here, present with you, or present with the flowers, present with what is here. It is really incredibly simple."
~Leonard Jacobson, from the video: What Is Love?
We are playing in the world of time - isn't this a wonderfully helpful phrase? In our desire to become fully awake and present beings, we sometimes get so serious about everything and forget the playful aspect.
We are living in a world of time and illusion, but we don't have to feel trapped in it. Do you sometimes feel trapped in it?
As much as we long to be liberated from this feeling of entrapment, we are already free. We are simply playing in this world of illusion, and never really disconnecting from the truth of life. We need only remember where the truth of life is.
It's always right here, with you.
4. Your Natural State
"If you're present, your mind is silent. It's that simple. If you're present, it means that you're here and you're nowhere else. In fact, the only way you can be somewhere else is to think your way out of here.
You think your way out of the present moment, out of the truth of life, into a world of illusion - a world of memory and imagination. There's no other way to leave here.
To be fully present, to be a fully awakened being, is your natural state. It's who you are. But, the more you think and the more you get absorbed into the world of the mind, the more you disconnect from the truth of who you are.
The problem is, we humans have become so lost, so absorbed in the world of the mind, so addicted to thinking, so lost in the past or in the future, that it's rather difficult for us to find our way home.
The present moment is your home, it's your true home. It's as if there is a world hidden within the world we know. And the more present we are, the more this hidden world opens up and reveals itself. You begin to feel the sacredness in every moment.
The present moment reveals its hidden treasures. But it won't reveal its hidden treasures to us if we remain in the mind, trying to understand, thinking we know.
This moment is a great mystery. Who you are is a great mystery. The journey that you're on is a great mystery. It's profound beyond anything you can imagine with your mind."
~ Leonard Jacobson, from the video: Being Present Is Your Natural State
Instead of having the idea that we need to "get into" the present moment, and that doing that is a practice we need to learn and perfect, we are presented with another perspective. We are already present - it's our natural state, our true home, and the only way we can leave it is by thinking our way out.
Suddenly, the answer is not to try to attain anything we don't have (the skill of practicing presence) but rather, to stop doing what we're doing (thinking our way out of presence).
Keep letting go of any thoughts you may have of this being difficult and something you will achieve in the future. You can only be present now. You can only be free in this moment.
5. Relaxing into Presence
"Thoughts will stop without you even intending them to stop. It'll just happen very naturally and in a very relaxed way. Notice you're thinking, notice you're daydreaming, very gently bring yourself present.
Your body is breathing. There is sound. You can feel the chair against your back. Be present with what you see.
It's absolutely effortless. Any attempt at trying, or effort, or struggle to be present, is not going to work - for the simple reason that the present is already here. It doesn't need you to try to get it here. And it doesn't need you to try to get here with it.
It's already here. Just relax into that which is already here. That's how simple it is."
~Leonard Jacobson, from the video: No Trying, Just Relax
"Notice you're thinking, notice you're daydreaming, very gently bring yourself present." Such reassuring, gentle guidance - you could actually use these words as a mantra or sing them to yourself throughout the day, to become aware of how often you're think yourself out of presence.
Can you see the simplicity of presence? And how the mind complicates matters? There's nothing left to do now except smile, feel the chair on your back, your feet on the ground, and rest in the effortlessness of being present.
6. Sensing the Oneness
"The present moment is rather demanding. It demands all of you. It's not satisfied with a part of you. It wants all of you to be present.
It doesn't want a part of you lingering in the past. It doesn't want you projecting your ideas and opinions onto it. It wants all of you: fully awake, fully present, fully here, in oneness, feeling the presence, experiencing this moment as it is; free of your ideas, free of your past, your future, free of your beliefs and free of your projections.
In the awakened state you're no longer projecting your past, your future, your ideas, your woulds, your hurts, your hopes, your desires, your judgements, your preferences... You're no longer projecting any of that onto the present moment, in a truly awakened state.
So then, the moment can reveal itself to you as it really is. It reveals itself to you as it really is. And you feel it, you experience it, you sense it, you know it in silence. You experience the Oneness that is here."
"It's not about me, me, me. It's not about what do I get out of enlightenment or awakening. It's not about bliss or exctasy. It's just about coming home into the truth of life, revealed through the present moment. Sometimes it will be blissful, other times it will be ordinary.
The real motivation for being present is very simple: I'd rather be present in the truth of life than lost in a world of illusion."
Allow the moment to reveal itself to you as it really is - not as you think it should be, or remember it to be or according to how someone told you it would be. When you open and allow the moment to reveal itself to you fully, you will sense it in silence and, quite often, it will be very ordinary.
Can you let go of all the expectations you have of presence, of enlightenment, of the awakened state? Put them aside, even just for a moment, and be fully here, without any projections.
Take a breath, feel yourself relax, and come home to the Oneness that is always here.
7. Summary and Song
In this ten minute video I give a brief summary of all the quotes and how to apply them, followed by a short song, sung to the tune of Knocking on Heaven's Door.
Why don't you try singing along with me?
You thought you had to practice hard
You thought you had to learn a special way
But the truth of life is in your heart
When you're not thinking yourself far away
Just be present with what is here
You don't have to run away
What can you see? What can you hear?
It's all inviting you to stay.