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The Practice of Presence, Part Two

The Practice of Presence, Part Two

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Published by Lee Irwin

A continuing discussion of the spiritual practice of presence. Published by the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom, see:


A continuing discussion of the spiritual practice of presence. Published by the Seven Pillars House of Wisdom, see:


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Published by: Lee Irwin on Dec 30, 2012
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The Practice of Presence (Part Two)by Lee Irwin
The mystery of the human experience is inseparable from our capacity to recognize themultiple fields of awareness that infuse our day-to-day consciousness. This flow of consciousness is the experiential ground of Being and Spirit, and as such this flow is the
participatory medium through which our capacity to be “a light unto the world” is
actualized. Presence, in the deep sense, becomes most obvious at the margins, on theboundaries of our developing sensitivities, and it flows most fully into the consciouscenter when we can hold the openness and receptivity necessary, a deep reverence andgratitude for the enhancement of our life and awareness. As a gift, presence seeks toamplify the most receptive conduit, the most sensitive capacity for expansion within eachindividual. This requires a sustained embodiment of the subtle, very fine, silken layers of psychic media through which wisdom and knowledge can be assimilated at theintegrative center. And beyond this, the supraconscious domain allows for the suddencrystallization of revelatory ideas, insights, and manifestations through which theevolutionary horizon can take embodied forms, condensing the field into explicit types,images, metaphors and seeds meant to be grown into actuality through committed worldactions.In the practice of presence, conscious intention is not always sufficient. Our consciouswanting, asking, hoping, and praying (or demanding) reflects intentions which oftenreveal the deeper, sometimes imbalanced needs and desires of the unintegrated self.There is a Mystery within Being and Spirit that does not simply follow the consciousintentions of the individual but often animates the subconscious and collective impulsesthat underlie conscious desires. In the process of manifestation, presence can becomean antidote to false longing and artificial desires shaped by unhealthy needs or aspirations. On the other hand, the manifestation can lead to an exaggeration, an evenmore radical inflation, that results in an enhancement of ego-based needs that serveonly a limited good, or a more immediate but narrow collective desire. An individual mayfeel a sense of empowerment that is oriented to resolving or carrying the burden of thecollective need, but this empowerment often lacks the transparency and creative effectsthat allows presence to work through and beyond individual needs or desires. Such aninflation is ultimately a severe contraction of an evolutionary potential that is renderedincapable of deep transparency. The individual too often becomes self-identified with thecollective need, thus reducing the transformative effects of presence to a satisfaction of collective desires.By contrast, the influx of presence may cause confusion and disorientation, adismantling of poorly integrated self aspects that results in radical discontinuity, excess,and garbled half-truths built on subjective fantasy and ungrounded imagination. Deepmanifestations of presence require healthy-mindedness, a coherent and well-developedsense of self, and a capacity for self-surpassing transparency. This requires a disciplinedbalance between deeply compassionate concern, loving detachment, and willingness toallow for creative adaptation in and through others. The flowing up of presence requirescontinual practice and on-going effort; each person is an expression of the sacredhuman and as such is called to the evolutionary task of healthy, well-integrated, moraland visionary embodiment of inner capacities. While presence can flow in and throughour deeper being, its purpose directs us toward community and healthy, positive humanrelations
 What is transparency? It is the capacity for witness: to see, hear, know, and recall whatmanifests within the many domains of consciousness without subjecting thosemanifestations to self-gratifying needs and the limitations of personal desire. Unlikepossession mediumship in which the medium abrogates his or her personal awareness
for the “speaking through” of another entity, transparency requires lucid self 
-awareness,both as a unique individual and as an embodiment of transpersonal aspects of Being
and Spirit. The goal is not to be “unconscious mediums” of presence, but f 
ully consciouspartners in a co-creative relationship that allows and fosters revelation, prophetic insight,artistic and scientific discoveries, and moral and ethical truths. Like the crystals in an oldfashioned radio that were attuned to create a more simplified auditory signal, thepractice of presence seeks the development of clarity and lucid awareness that candirect presence into the seen and heard domains of human experience. This is
something far more than being a “channel” for other entities; it
requires that we adapt our entire being, the full spectrum of our awareness within the subconscious, conscious andsupraconscious domains, to receive the in-flow and felt reality of Being and Spirit. Wecan embody this in our most ordinary actions, in heart-felt conversation, in showingempathy and concern for those who suffer, in bringing attention to all the problems of worldly life in search of inspiration to heal the wounds and imbalances of the world.This presence is transpersonal in the sense that it is not a reference to an entity, anangel, or any specific type of being (of the many kinds that exist throughout the layeredcosmos). It references the entirety of all embedded fields that make up our collective andcosmic existence, throughout whatever planes or domains that existence may extend. As discreet individuals, we reflect the cosmos, not as microcosmic images reflected in amirror, but as evolutionary beings in the midst of the dynamic process of discovery,change and experimentation. This reflected image, like the reflected heavens, istransformative, and is not a static or predetermined form. Imagine your face as a childseen in a mirror, then see your face today, in the mirror, changing, in process; now see iton your deathbed, still changing. The transpersonal aspect is the lived and felt sensethrough which this change occurs; it is the dynamic life-presence, the vitality that instillsawareness and leads to wisdom. In this living presence, space cannot be measured,time spirals to infinity, and collective interactions overflow their old boundaries. Thetranspersonal lifts us to a vaster horizon of seeing and knowing, challenging us toovercome our own limited views.The task of each individual, as I understand it, is to find the way to express and to
embody presence most suited to that individual’s capacities and existential situation. The
practice of presence requires no special context; every context is the place wherepresence dwells. Presence calls us to manifest the subtle qualities of Being and Spirit inevery place we inhabit, in every circumstance and interaction, in home, work, play,casual encounter, and in dedicated times of spiritual practice. Presence is a spiritualpractice; it is embodied beingness, a light of soul that shines forth through the flow of conscious experience, illumining every circumstance with depth, joy, laughter, and sober insights. It is not one state but a fluid, adaptive flow, life-giving, deeply alive and yetquiet, subtle, almost invisibly adding its qualities to every receptive circumstance. And itis a moral condition, by which I mean, a condition that seeks the health and well-being of others through positive affirmations of dedicated service and devotion to cooperativeworld transformations.
The effects of presence are cumulative: they contribute to the flow, even when requiringcritical reflection. Presence can be challenging, questioning, unwilling to accept easyand superficial reactions, demanding in its impulse toward authenticity and meritoriousactions. The evolutionary context requires critical thinking, reflection on human limits,awareness of our own weaknesses and fallibility, and a capacity for negotiations withothers with whom we may disagree. Presence is not limited by disagreement or differences; indeed, the very existence of difference is an expression of presence. But inthe evolutionary or developmental context, what arises often requires negotiationbecause these differences matter in the sense of the commitment people give to them.There is also a certain quality of passive attention in presence because from Being andSpirit, every spring floods forth from a shared, deeply unitary ground. Therefore,patience, listening, receptivity, acceptance, and detached concern are inherent to thenecessary transparency that seeks reconciliation and balance. Additionally, criticalinquiry, respectful disagreement, resistance, and autonomy are also necessary qualitiesof a mature presence. These qualities arise contextually in relationship to what othersbring, but are also receptive to as-yet-undiscovered possibilities hovering at the margins.While the cultivation of presence may be difficult and challenging in many if not mostcircumstances, its actual realization is often spontaneous and subtle. Presence is not aparticular state
it is not a meditative condition (which can function as an escape frominteraction), not a passive resistance to wrong, not an emotional sense of loving another.Rather, it is an actualized, participatory awareness, a living transpersonal quality of Being and Spirit that energizes and induces transformation and insight. It cannot belimited to fixed states, explicit definitions, or particular mental or emotive conditions. Itssign is a creative, sustaining outflow into the lived context of the everyday. Someconditions can be noted as preparatory, such as holding a condition of openness to whatappears, being lucid in all interactions, being attentive to the entire field, including our subconscious, paranormal, and visionary impulses. Perhaps most central of all is thecapacity to sustain a deep respect for others, a loving regard for their well-being, and acreative attitude toward all interactions with others. Compassion is not sufficient for creative transformation; it is a foundational quality but, like all qualities, it must combinewith the full range of other capacities and not be held in isolation or captivity to a fixedideology or belief system. Above all, the practice of presence requires self-honesty andconstant self-
assessment of one’s own transparency.
In concluding this brief reflection, let me return to the variability of our inner states, our conditional relationship with the surrounding world, and our host of relationships withothers. The transpersonal field is really not a bound space or a definable, necessarily
measureable energy. I use the term “field” in this overview as a metaphor for multi
-spatial and multi-spectral domains of existence that are irreducible to any fixed quantity.I say this because the very nature of the field (or fields) is a mix of interpenetratedqualities of energy, mater, and consciousness, all inseparable from a profound continuityand wholeness that eludes my comprehension. I can intuit the fullness and have, onseveral occasions, had the good fortune to experience its mystical depths and vastenergies. We, as multi-spectral beings, that is, as beings capable of perception on manysubtle planes of experience, are immersed in a great ocean of Being and Spirit, and it isone of the highest of all arts to become a transparent beacon within the ocean in which
we dwell. And yet, a mother’s love for a child, a genuine handshake, a heartfelt
conversation, or a simple smile or kind disagreement can manifest its depth in ways thatutterly transcend words and descriptions. May our paths leads us to presence and may

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