Being Present
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A Buddhist sage contemplates the Higher Self within
A Buddhist sage contemplates the Higher Self within.
Alina Stoica © 2009
July 2009

Look Within

‘Look within,’ Marcus Aurelius tells himself, ‘within is the fountain of good.’ His practical philosophy developed from the private, painstaking reflections of a man with too many responsibilities and no-one in whom to confide. Since his notebooks were discovered, the careful disposition of a man attempting to reach his own soul has inspired thousands of readers. Yet while his words are inspiring, on a deeper level they are also a series of personal instructions. The phrase ‘look within’ is a conscious act, an intentional re-connection with a deep, internal, evergreen island, a ‘demi-paradise’ in which the immortal part freely breathes.


His written command to himself can bring one to that same place. Intuitively, one knows that it is there, a place where one is undisturbed, unaffected by externals, a place of strength. And when one reaches this place, guided to a previously uncharted domain, one recognises it immediately, breathes with relief and sits down as the host and the guest at the same time. Presence is familiar, serene and detached from the frantic activity and concerns of the functions.  


Part of school work is to prepare for this journey into the Higher Self. Through instruction and example, one develops a set of personal instructions for this inner life, a language to summon presence and to protect this quiet place within. The word ‘Watch’ evokes an observing eye over one’s functions, and when the fears and anxieties of the functions are agitated, one uses ‘Peace’ and then watches them recede, since ‘ they were only dreams which troubled thee. ’ From presence, one grows inwardly, the external receding in relevance. With presence, a living interior fills the enigmatic cipher of the human form, consciousness filling the human mask.
War is within us, it's nothing outside.
You will find that there is a place in you where you are quiet, calm, and nothing can disturb you—only it is difficult to find the way there. But if you do it several times you will be able to remember some of the steps, and by the same steps you may come there again. Only you cannot do it after one experience, for you will not remember the way. This quiet place is not a metaphor—it is a very real thing.
Ouspensky, Fourth Way
Presence itself is who we are, but in order to reach it, we must relinquish our imaginary picture of ourselves.