Jack entered the crowded room as he entered every room, quietly. It didn’t matter, conversations stopped, heads turned, as his presence filled the room.
How many novels have you read with lines like that? Or, his presence radiated aliveness and vitality, or her presence was the very embodiment of seduction, a siren in a red dress. You get the picture, presence is noticeable, beyond the body, the clothing, and clever words.
The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. – Epictetus
What is presence?
A simple definition of presence is Be Here Now, the title of Ram Das‘ first book, published in 1978. These three words point to the fundamental qualities of presence: existence, immediacy in location, immediacy in time.
Now, what is this presence that exists in the arms, in the body, that seems to bring with it power, energy, contact, and awareness? We are seeing that presence is more of an actuality than an idea or a metaphor. We are getting a sense that presence is much more profound, more real than feeling or emotion. We are approaching, although still vaguely, an appreciation of what presence is.
The presence one experiences does not have to be one’s own, and does not have to be individual. One can experience the presence of another. A whole group can be aware of a presence. Even one who is not particularly attuned to the quality of presence cannot but contact presence is some unusual and unique circumstances. – A. H. Almaas, Essence and the Elixir of Enlightenment
Presence is being or, beingness, but more explicitly the coemergence of being/beingness – a singular dynamic beingness. There is the isness of being, that which is the existence of all manifestation, and the inherent awareness/consciousness/dynamism of being.
This, then, reflects the reality that the consciousness of presence is indistinguishable from the fact of presence itself. Beingness and consciousness are inseparable, are coemergent. This means that at the moment presence is present, who you are is simultaneously indistinguishable from the fact that you know you are presence by feeling, sensing, touching, tasting yourself as presence. The touching of yourself as presence is not different from the presence itself. The touch, the taste, the texture—in other words, the perception of the presence—is the presence. – A. H. Almaas, Brilliancy, ch. 3
What is the Relationship Between Presence and the Body?
We convince by our presence. – Walt Whitman
The body is the interface between the physical and the spiritual. Our presence is our most fundamental identity, that which is beyond conditioning and reactivity and memory. Reactivity, auto-pilot is how most people live their lives – without knowing it because it is considered normal.
Everyone experiences or has experienced presence – and not just when they were young children. Adults experience presence in moments often referred to as in the flow, in the moment, or as peak experiences. The issue is that these moments are generally not investigated with any depth of curiosity and discernment, but filed away under that was cool or far out or radical or some other naming that reduces such moments of presence to ordinary experience on steriods.
In the experience of increased presence, it is as if I meet my perceptions midway. It is as if something of me, something more or less palpable, is present in my eyes and in my nose. Something in me besides my perceptual channels is participating in the experience of the rose. And this something is not memory, not past associations with roses.
In a sense, my greater awareness actually enhances the presence of the rose, or of any aesthetic object, such as a piece of music or a painting. Sometimes greater awareness enhances only a certain quality of an object—the beauty of the rose, its color, its smell, or its freshness. But sometimes the rose as a rose, as a presence in itself, is felt. If that experience is deep enough, our own presence is enhanced. “I seem to be more here,” the expression goes. But what is this presence? Is there really an “I” that is more present, or what exactly is it? – A. H. Almaas, Essence and the Elixir of Enlightenment
What is the Relationship Between Presence and Emptiness?
Presence can be experienced on many levels of subtlety and refinement. It can be experienced as the presence of light, the presence of consciousness, the presence of awareness, the presence of love, the presence of clear light, or the presence that is the nonduality (coemergence) of consciousness (or light) and emptiness. Even emptiness, as conceived of by the Theravada and some of the Mahayana schools of Buddhism, can actually be experienced as presence. But then we move into very subtle domains of discrimination, where emptiness is described as neither being nor nonbeing. – A. H. Almaas, The Point of Existence, appendix B
What is the Relationship Between Presence and Essence
So in the experience of presence, what is present is essence, our true nature, which is independent of conditioning. Presence and essence are the same. We have discussed presence to give a taste of what essence is. As we see, essence is the part of us that is the experience of “I am.” Essence is the direct experience of existence. Of course, essence can be experienced as other things, such as love, truth, peace, and the like. But the sense of existence is its most basic characteristic. It is the clearest, most definitive aspect that sets it apart from other categories of experience. Essence is, and that is what is most basic to its experience. – A. H. Almaas, Essence and the Elixir of Enlightenment
Spiritual Wisdom of the Body Series
Living Presence: The Spiritual Life of the Body
Join Diamond Approach teacher, Linda Krier, and a community of fellow spiritual explorers on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8 from 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Pacific for Living Presence. During this two-day exploration, you’ll be supported in discovering that by living more fully into your body, you can experience radical liberation from your history and better express the gifts of spirit in your day-to-day life.