On What Presence Is
“You cannot think about Presence. You can only BE it.” – Eckhart Tolle
“…a state of bare, transparent awareness;
Effortless and brilliantly vivid, a state of relaxed, rootless wisdom;
Fixation free and crystal clear, a state without the slightest reference point;
Spacious empty clarity, a state wide open and unconfined;
the senses unfettered…” – Fourteenth Century Tibetan text
“Practicing Presence is to practice being FULLY ALIVE.” – Tara Brach
“In open presence, sometimes called pure awareness, the mind is calm and relaxed, not focused on anything in particular yet vividly clear, free from excitation or dullness. The meditator observes and is open to experience without making any attempt to interpret, change, reject or ignore painful sensation.”
“…the notion of showing up in awareness and being receptive to what is happening. Presence embraces the sensibility that we can vary in our state of mind even if our physical body is there in an experience. We can have receptive awareness of what is happening as it is happening…”
“Presence is the recognition, immediately and directly, of what my being is.”
“…it is the source of mind, of knowing. The knowing is immediate. The presence and knowing are the same.” “…it is a new category of experience.”
“The heart of Buddhist practice is to generate our own presence in such a way that we can touch deeply the life that is here and available in every moment. We have to be here for ourselves; we have to be here for the people we love; we have to be here for life with all its wonders.”
“…the present moment. This is not a psychological or spiritual discipline for self-improvement. It is simply being aware of this present experience, and realizing that you can neither define it nor divide yourself from it.”
“Presence is a state of conscious awareness. You will know you are in a state of presence when you are bringing a sincere curiosity to a situation. …Presence accepts what is without judgmental righteousness and acts in all situations from a deep preference. Presence welcomes all authentic feelings and is possible at any time.”
On States of Consciousness related to Presence
“This enhanced state is much more challenging to define as it infers the absence of affect and cognition– an empty state with no phenomenological content. This notion of emptiness has manifested in …spiritual/religious traditions and languages… However attempts to translate these terms to English have struggled to capture the ineffable and nonconceptual state of consciousness. As such, many different terms have evolved… The examples are numerous and include such ideas as: God Consciousness, Christ Consciousness, Buddha Consciousness, cosmic consciousness, pure consciousness, true-Self, non-Self, Non-Dual Awareness, absolute unitary being; and other terms such as Formless, Void, emptiness, and undifferentiated ‘beingness’ or ‘suchness.’” – Andrew Newberg and Jonathan Nash
On the Present Moment
“Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand, remember that the sole life which a man can lose is that which he is living at the moment; and furthermore, that he can have no other life except the one he loses… This means that the longest life and the shortest amount to the same thing. For the passing minute is every man’s equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours.” – Marcus Aurelius
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” – Annie Dillard
“What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years lie behind us are in death’s hands.
Therefore… hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of to-day’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon to-morrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing… is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession. What fools these mortals be! They allow the cheapest and most useless things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as in debt when they have received some of that precious commodity, — time! And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay.” Seneca – Letters from a Stoic as quoted by Brain Pickings
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde
“Do your best to take time to notice, feel and appreciate your way through every texture of the circumstances you are in,” – Alfred James
“Life is accessible only in the present moment.” – Buddha
“Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.” – Eckhart Tolle
On Meditation and Mindfulness Practice
“The real meditation practice is how we live our lives from moment to moment to moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.” – Voltaire
“And in the process of following one story to the other, you can see mindfulness meditation in a new light, a light that emphasises how much more than casually therapeutic it can be; a light that shows it to be one of the most radical undertakings imaginable, a rebellion against the very laws that govern human existence.” – Robert Wright
“Studies of well-being have found that the best predictor of health and happiness is having an integrated brain, what the researchers call an “interconnected connectome.” This means that having the differentiated areas of the brain linked to each other, a process that enables coordination and balance of the brain as a whole, is likely the mechanism enabling regulation to be optimized – how he regulate attention, emotion, thought, behavior, and our relationships. In meditation studies, too, increases in well-being are associated with the growth of integrative regions of the brain – the prefrontal cortex, corpus callosum, hippocampus, and the connectome.” – Dr. Dan Siegel, a psychiatry professor at UCLA, in his book, “Aware”
“We have bodies served by nervous systems, not brains served by bodies.” Anthony Damasio
On Attention and Narrative
“What flows through your attention sculpts your brain. Therefore, controlling your attention may be the single most effective way to shape your brain, and thus your mind.” – Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
“To stay eager, to connect, to find interest in the everyday, to notice what everybody else overlooks — these are vital skills and noble goals. They speak between looking and seeing, between hearing and listening, between accepting what the world presents and noticing what matters to you.” – Rob Walker (Author of the Art of Noticing)
Attention “is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what may seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. …It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.” – William James “The Principles of Psychology“
“The awareness that our every action is a construct of some constellation of influences can be devastating at first. We don’t know what is ours, and what has been handed down to us. We don’t know who we are. Eventually, this understanding frees us. We let go of all that we’ve been holding and realize that we never had anything anyway.” – Ruth Zaporah, “Action Theater”
“We all share a common simple impediment: our judging minds. Regardless of our intentions in any situation, we haul around our past and future. To relax our attention to the present moment is extraordinarily simple, but for most of us, it demands a lifetime of practice.” – Ruth Zaporah, “Action Theater”
“What you judge you cannot understand.” – Anthony Demello, “Awareness”
On Suffering and Acceptance
“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“What you resist, persists.” – C. G. Jung
“This belongs in this moment.” – Tara Brach
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” – Pema Chödrön
“Pain becomes the fuel for the flame of your consciousness.” – Eckhart Tolle
“Our bodies know that they belong; it is our minds that make our lives so homeless.” – John O’ Donohue
When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama said, “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence,” says Eckhart Tolle.
“Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. There is no greater obstacle to God than Time.” Meister Eckhart
On Feelings inspired by Presence
“It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together … When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt.”
What Keegan described can seem dependent on being in a particular kind of environment (like a college campus). But Perel seems to encourage us to think about aliveness and eroticism as a choice and sensibility we can cultivate by remaining open to the world, pursuing curiosity, or just getting outside the comforts of our routines. There are some days I’d rather not. But when I do challenge myself in this way, I know there’s a possibility of finding myself in what Perel calls “this constant dance between me and you, between I and thou” — which, for her, is at the core of being human. And I, for one, am grateful it’s a dance that can begin at any moment. Kristin Lin from On Being quoting Marina Keegan
If you open your heart and become like a child, you will always be blissful, always content. – Dharma Mittra
“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough,” Toni Morrison in her 1981 novel Tar Baby.
“We live in a world where joy and empathy and pleasure are all around us, there for the noticing.” – Ira Glass
“Love is life’s greatest gift. We seek for love, and yet it is all around and within us. It belongs to the oneness of life, to every dewdrop on every leaf, to the spider spinning its web, the child looking at the stars. If we open our senses and open our hearts, we can feel its presence. Love is life speaking to us of its real mystery. And in that conversation so many things can happen, so many miracles can be born, the small unsuspecting miracles that we often do not notice—like momentary sunlight from behind a cloud, a flower where a seed unexpectedly sprouted, a smile from a stranger. Despite all of its distortions, pain, and suffering, this world belongs to love, just as each of us belongs to love. And just to know that we are part of this love is enough.
Learning to love is learning to live, to become part of the great love affair that is life. And just as love is life’s gift, so is love the one true gift we each have to give.” – Love: Life’s Greatest Gift by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
“You thought you were the dancer, you now experience yourself as the dance.” – Anthony De Mello
“Encountering the world as real can be a source of pleasure – indeed of quasi-religious feelings of wonder and gratitude – in light of which manufactured realities are revealed as pale counterfeits, and lose some of their grip on us.” – Matthew Crawford, “The World Beyond Your Head”
“Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the earth are two separate entities, that the Earth is only the environment. That is a dualistic way of seeing. So breathe in and be aware of your body and look deeply into it and realize you are the Earth and your consciousness is also the consciousness of the earth. Not to cut the tree, not to pollute the water: that is not enough.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“I am a finger pointing to the moon. Don’t look at me; look at the moon.” – Buddha
“The Map is not the Territory” – Alfred Korzybski
“I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. if this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” – Thoreau
“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.” – Einstein
On Compassion and Love
“When we hear about compassion, it naturally brings up working with others, caring for others. The reason we’re often not there for others – whether for our child or our mother or someone who is insulting us or someone who frightens us – is that we’re not there for ourselves. There are whole parts of ourselves that are so unwanted that whenever they begin to come up we run away. Because we escape, we keep missing being right here, being right on the dot. We keep missing the moment we’re in.
Yet if we can experience the moment we’re in, we discover that it is unique, precious, and completely fresh. It never happens twice. One can appreciate and celebrate each moment – there’s nothing more sacred. There’s nothing more vast or absolute. In fact, there’s nothing more!
Only to the degree that we’ve gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we’ve related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough, and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others. To that degree we will be able to take on the pain of others because we will have discovered that their pain and our own pain are no different.” – Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron
On Religious and Contemplative Practices / Beliefs
On Religious and Contemplative Practices/Beliefs
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
-Tao de Ching
“Tat Tvam Asi” – Chandogya Upanishad
“The secret to life is to ‘die before you die’ and find that there is no death.” – Eckhart Tolle