Sometimes you can get to know a thing by its absence. In this article, we are going to examine presence, what it is and what it isn’t. It will require some imagination, but not more than you can muster. It is really quite easy. Here’s how it goes:
If you are sitting in a room, look around and get a sense of it, the way it feels, its atmosphere. Feel the life in it.
Once you have that flowing in your awareness, see the room the way it is most of the time, namely empty. No one there. Imagine that you are a fly on the wall when the room is not being used. Allow yourself to feel what that feels like. Just a stark, empty room. No atmosphere, no presence, no life.
This can be an unpleasant feeling. Its only purpose is to show by contrast what presence is. Once you’ve gotten the feeling, let it go. Don’t stay there any longer than you have to.
Now imagine that there is a screen in the corner of the room, the kind that people use to dress behind, as in a doctor’s office. The screen goes from the floor almost to the ceiling. You cannot see what’s behind it. For this part of the exercise, imagine that someone is sitting quietly behind the screen, just sitting there, not speaking, but hearing and understanding everything that’s going on in the room. Be with that. Be aware of that awareness, that presence. When you’re comfortable with it, let it go. The purpose here is to simply recognize what the presence of another person feels like when you cannot use your senses to register them with.
Next, think of someone you know pretty well, someone you know the feel of, and imagine that they enter your room, the one you’re sitting in, that they come in without their body. You cannot see them except in your mind’s eye, but try to strip that out of your awareness, so that all that’s left is their presence without any visual or auditory clues whatsoever. How does their presence feel to you? Do you feel good with them around, or do you feel uncomfortable? How does their presence affect what’s going on in the room, or the way you see what’s going on in the room? What is different about the atmosphere of the room when their presence is there?
Now, remember what the room looks like empty? Using that feeling as one pole of the spectrum, put yourself at the other pole. How does your presence affect the room? If someone else were looking at the room in this same way, how would your presence look to them? How would it feel? When you go to a meeting, or to church, or when you arrive at your place of work, what difference does you being there make on the overall atmosphere of the place? What changes when you show up?
If you do this in earnest, you will become aware of your own presence as surely as if it were a body that you have but were unaware that you had until now. And in fact, this is what it is. It is another body distinct from your physical body but every bit as real. It is the body you will take with you when you die. So it would behoove you to get to know it, how it works, and what you can do when you are in it. And one of the things that you can do is communicate with God. Presence to Presence. Not with your mind, but with your presence. Let’s be really clear about what “mind” is. It is not your presence. It is not “you.” It is a tool that you use, and you use it primarily to navigate in this world with your physical body. You use it to compute, to analyze, and to compare and contrast the situations and events of everyday life. That’s all. You cannot move about in your mind; you can’t use it as a vehicle the way you do your physical body, or your car. You can construct scenarios within it, you can imagine forms, and you can interact with those forms, but unless you bring your presence to the mix, you are simply watching a movie that you have created. Presence is the driver in the “car” of your mind. If you get to know your own presence and you get to know your mind, then you can travel within the realms that interpenetrate this world we live in.
This is fairly advanced stuff. Not the kind of thing they talk about in Sunday school. But unless you get to know this “place” and how to function there, you are not going to know how to function in the afterlife, at least not without a lot of help. And you won’t really know the fullness of your own being in this life either. Unless you know your own presence, all you have to go on is your mind. And what a limited instrumentality that is! The mind is like a computer. Without someone to operate it, it can only do what it has been programmed to do. Nothing more. Look around you. How many people live their lives that way?
Remember the old adage: there is more to the unseen than there is to the seen. Isn’t it time to get to know the real you?