Being Present
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Gudea, king of Lagash, dressed in the simple robes of an advocate of god, his hands folded in humility
Gudea, king of Lagash, dressed in the simple robes of an advocate of god, his hands folded in humility. Diorite, ca. 2120 BC. Copyright © 2008, FOF.
July 2008

Practising Presence

Take advantage of what God places by your side. See to it that it engages you, that it lifts you up.
Mayan tradition
The great schools and esoteric traditions offer the same simple yet powerful truth: being present produces a state that is both intimately aware of the moment and outside of time. From this state comes the wisdom and intelligence of schools. Yet while schools lay the foundations for religions, philosophical systems, mystical teachings, enlightened ethics and temples of the soul, the heart of their presentation is how to 'be' in the eternal moment. Schools teach techniques on how to wipe the dust from Third Eye. Simplicity is the focus. From the small, unheralded effort to awaken comes an immortal state, as a grain of sand in an oyster produces a pearl.
Yet presence remains elusive, a mirror that seems to reveal one's real Self and blinds one at the same time. Even though one has discovered the value and necessity of self-remembering, it is mystifying how easily the state slips from one's control. 'Now that you have found the Beloved,' Kabir asks himself, 'why do you lose him again and again?' Why is being present so simple but so hard? Because being present both awakens one and creates an eternal moment outside of time. From this understanding, it becomes necessary to develop a practical strategy of achieving this mystical state.
To plan your time around being present, divide a single day into segments, between private and the social, travelling, working, eating and other common daily activities. Since the events of a day are often routine, it is easier to plan being present to them. Dedicate a time early in the day, fifteen minutes of self-remembering before anything else. This means nudging aside other priorities, but not losing them. As one activity changes to the next, keep an aim, for example, controlling imagination on the way to work, or reading a book on the commute, being present to one paragraph at a time. Use the unit of a day to experiment with certain efforts as a way of self-discovery. Try being present every time you hear yourself say the word 'yes'. Eventually, as one increase these kinds of efforts, the false picture of the self, the burden of ego, changes into the simplicity of being present. 'Prayer is no longer something we do,' writes Theophan the Recluse, 'but who we are.'
Polish the mirror from moment to moment.
Zen Master So Sahn
Sit down in silence. Lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently, and imagine yourself looking into your own heart.
St. Simeon the New Theologian
The way to liberation is to train yourself to live in the present.
In the course of his effort to hold himself present, the seeker finds that he is in a different state but loses it at once. He should not on this account be depressed… By continued effort, the seeker can reach the same state as that of an angel.
Bring heart to head.
Bind the mind with one thought, the thought of God only.
St Theophan the Recluse