Take the risk of being present

“Take the risk of being present – dive into the abyss.”

That’s how I was going to start my last Dharma talk, but it morphed into “Relax into this present moment”.

I recognized that the latter was more of an invitation and less likely to be coopted by ego – as something else for my “spiritual pusher” to do. It was actually an echo of a sentiment I’d heard in a talk by Tai Situ (The regent for the Karmapa) about 15 years ago in Ukiah, California. The message I took away from that talk was “take a couple of years to cool yourself out as a good way to embark on spiritual practice.”

15 years later, this message keeps surfacing from different sources: “Relax into the present. Rest in Awareness. Be Here Now”

What I’ve come to see in that 15 years is that what keeps us from really being in the present and resting in awareness is our addiction to the thinking mind. We have a tendency to be involved with the story about reality rather than reality itself. True Presence is not in the realm of thought or concept. It’s not something we’re thinking about. What Adyashanti and Eckhart Tolle and others are saying is that “Enlightenment is just one thought away”, or in practical terms, it’s the lack of that one thought!

When you put that one thought away, when you and the thought release your hold on each other, what’s left is Presence, Awareness, the potential for true Awakening.

As we slow down and really get here, we are able to better see the functioning of the mind and how thought works in our lives. “Being present” in the real sense – in that magically ordinary sense – is to drop below the level of thought.

When we’re just here, with sensation, with breath, with the energy of the moment, this intangible thing called “Presence” can come in.

It’s the Awake moment!

When thought starts up again, we’re back in the dream state.

In his book, “Emptiness Dancing” Adyashanti writes:
“…this blessedness (of the present moment) seems hidden because it cannot be touched, but it is not hidden in essence.  It is overlooked because we are only looking at the mind structure and we are missing what makes the mind structure possible. Our structures of belief, disbelief, emotions-all of our inner and outer structures, come and go. Only the space that is awake remains.  And there is a lot more space in you then there is structure.”

We are on the cusp of the knowledge that this thing that we’re seeking for – this Presence, this Freedom – is always here, always available, when we can drop the thought, drop the storyline, and rest in this moment.

For me, this is where the work does get a bit steep, and where that risk seems to come in.
Dive into the abyss of the present!
To ego, it does feel like an abyss. It feels like death! Because it is.
The giving up of the story is the death of you, me and mine.
My self concept, my struggle, my accomplishments.

What I’ve discovered, is that ego gets very tricky and sophisticated in finding ways to resurrect itself. I find myself caught in these various processes that get the storyline going again:

“But I have to try hard to be a good person!”
“But I have to be making money or something terrible is going to happen!”
“But I haven’t really practiced enough to wake up, I better go on retreat”
“But if I just sit here in silence, I’ll be rejected!”

All very reasonable thoughts. Before we know it, we’ve taken the hook and we’re off getting dragged behind the boat again.

What’s required is for Awareness to get stronger. This happens naturally as we persist in our willingness to be present with what is occurring in our lives.
As it does, this beautiful capacity of Compassion, or Lovingkindness is born out of the Awareness.

The Tibetans say that Compassion is an intrinsic component of Presence, of clear radiant Mind. They describe the essence of Mind as being empty of intrinsic qualities or substance, it’s nature as being self-luminous or self-cognizant, and that when those two components are united, then what is born out of it is the unlimited capacity for selfless, compassionate activity.

This compassion can hear the complaints and worries of the beleaguered ego and say:
“Now, there there, dear.
It’s okay. You just settle down.You just cool yourself out. It’s going to be okay.
You just breathe.”

We’ve learned that we can’t banish the ego. We can’t kill it. It’s a part of us. It helps us function in the world.

We just can’t believe it!

We recognize that all these things that arise, these worries, these concerns, these stories, are also expressions of Presence, of the Silence.
There’s nothing wrong here.

We see this and the more we see it, the more we know it and the more we trust it.

We Relax. We come into the Present. We Be.

This is a huge process, a monumental evolutionary process, – for ourselves and the planet. It’s really happening very fast. The best way we can help it out is to keep moving, slowly.
Keep relaxing.
Keep cooling ourselves out.

It’s all happening. Now.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010 at 1:43 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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