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November 2006 • Vol 3, No 11
Awakening • Higher Centers • The Beloved • God
Being Present copyright © Fellowship of Friends, Inc.

Locating Presence

Having the impulse to be present is an achievement in itself, yet it is only the first step. The next step—which we must learn to take quickly—is to follow that impulse and actually locate presence in ourselves.

Locating presence does not mean holding on to a sensation, thought, or emotion. It means retrieving the wordless state of divided attention and bringing it firmly to the front of our awareness. This sounds simple, and it is simple, yet it is difficult to do because imagination keeps flooding the place where presence can emerge. In short, we cannot be in imagination and be present at the same time.

In the second state of consciousness there are degrees when we are closer to and farther from presence, but all of these degrees are to some extent tainted by random ‘I’s of imagination. In the second state, even when presence is near, the veil of imagination is never lifted completely.

Lifting that veil and reaching pure presence is the beginning of the third state, and the essential question is how to get there and stay there more often. This is where work ‘I’s come in because work ‘I’s have the unique ability to divide attention and displace imagination. Their task is to simultaneously clear out imagination and support presence.

As our teacher Robert Earl Burton mentioned recently, the work ‘I’s locate presence, and when they find it they do everything they can to sustain it. They do this by prompting presence with a delicate, urgent plea. For example, work ‘I’s might say internally things like: Drop imagination, Be present, Look with presence, Listen with presence, Move with presence, and so on—according to the circumstances of the moment.

In their attempt to support presence, work ‘I’s also have the wisdom not to let themselves step on, or cover back up, the treasure they have just found.

Related thoughts

It is quite easy to be in imagination. It is extremely difficult to engage presence.
Robert Earl Burton  

The man whose mind has truly learned to pray converses with the Lord face to face.
John of the Ladder    

When you find the one you seek, abandon the world and let it go.

Release the mind, let it fly from the bow and swiftly find its target—Brahman.

At first you find yourself behind the veil, even if you are practicing remembrance. After that comes unveiling, which is presence.

What you want is profoundly expensive, and difficult to find, yet close by.

Do not waver any more, think only of the beloved; nothing is worth more than this treasure.

When you find it, you will want for nothing else.

Egyptian relief from Karnak; the pharaoh and Amun.

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