Hey dear friend and fellow adventurer! In this booklet I will try to give you a handful of meditative insights on why living as person is quite nutrient deficient from a spiritual and existential point of view, while living as presence is superbly. supremely, infinitely, vastly healthier in all aspects of life imaginable.
First of all what is meant by a person and presence?
Instead of telling you that here in this incredibly short introduction, lets just get the good ol train on her way and rolling wont we…?
Follow me, or yourself.. because I for the life of me don’t seem to know which ones who these days!
Presence is Vast, Person is Limited
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. “
Andre Gide (The Counterfeiters, 1925)
Living as a person is a very limited way of navigating through the world and universe. Why? Well, perhaps I best explain by what I mean by person first, although you will probably figure it out anyways as we go along. What I mean with the term person is the self-reflecting egoic mind that is constantly filtrating and projecting its own ideas unto reality.
And the person is limited precisely in this regard, that it filtrates experiences so that it fits into a certain conditioned mode of perceiving the world. It always tries to attract or fend of other “persons”. In other words it always seems to be selfishly seeking its own benefit, while doing so it inevitably ends up lessening the overall quality of the life that is being lived.
And this… my friend is not the way of presence and not the door to direct experience, which is, as we shall see, what I propose to be the ideal way of living.
Now when you first begin to live more as presence and less as person, you immediately and intuitively feel an expansion in your range of expressions. Your presence isn’t limited to your personal identity, ideas about life or even your body. Your presence is simply much vaster in what it can include in its expressions and impressions, in fact, it is quite unlimited. Furthermore this means that in this regard your original presence is quite the opposite of what the personal state brings to the table.
Presence can play the part of human beings, animals, plants, and smaller organisms like bacteria and even of insentient objects such as atoms, quarks and what have you. Its expressions are as said spontaneously infinite, and it never seems to run out of new costumes to try out. Also when talking about presence in these lesser advanced organisms and forms of matter, I am perhaps more referring to something which I call absolute awareness. Which is beyond even the sense of presence.
That being said, when we are talking about presence strictly from a humans perspective, then maybe we’ll have to exclude some of the speculations made above, though in my understanding they are not so speculative but quite intuitive, at the same time I can see why some would consider it so.
Presence often functions as an antidote to those limitations that the state of “person-hood” imposes on you and your consciousness.
Presence is Here, Person is Not
“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Now what do I mean with this? Well If you have read previous article on the blog, I have described two distinct ways, aside from person and presence of living life as an human being. These two I call direct experience and indirect experience. The person is all about indirect experience, which furthermore means that it never is fulfilled or content with what it gets. It lives indirectly and life therefore becomes watered down. Indirect experience also means heavy tendencies towards consumption, filtration, stagnancy and unfulfillment.
When living from the paradigm of personhood, these are the cards that one keeps being handed.
Well because it is in the nature of the psychological mind to be restless and capricious. Its in its nature to be living indirectly, because it has billions of projections which it wants to fulfil instead of living fully in the majesty of the present moment. The person isn’t here, though your presence carries it everywhere, because it cannot live without a substrate, which in this and all cases happens to be consciousness.
Now what’s the alternative to living as person?
Well yes you guessed it!
Your presence is the key to the prison of which the personal state of existence imposes upon you. Your presence is always directly in contact with life. It has no real preferences or opinions as the person has, but it always is available for all types of experiences. It is very intertwined with the present moment, it never gets distracted, in fact that is an impossibility for it. Superfluous distractions are only for the person and not your original presence.
Direct experience simply means unfiltered and unhindered experience of your reality, moreover by directly experiencing yourself and your reality through presence you are thoroughly empowering yourself in all your expressions.
When life is lived directly, one is effortlessly sucking the marrow out of life, as Thoreau so poignantly put it. Presence is pure experience, whether these experiences are pleasant or tough, your presence is ever available for them and ever beyond them as well.
The Person is Always Lacking While Presence is Ever Fulfilled
“Love abounds in all things,
excels from the depths to beyond the stars,
is lovingly disposed to all things.”
Hildegard of Bingen (Caritas Abundat)
The person never seems to become satisfied. It always wants more, the belly of the beast is never content. It is in the nature of the person to always seek and cling to the next object or thought that appears before it. It always wants more and this wanting makes the consciousness weak. It becomes weak in the sense that the innate power of the consciousness is simply handed over to objects and thoughts. What should function as an empowerment is now a ‘depowerment’ of the presence. This is not the way of direct experience!
Now there’s nothing wrong with a sense of momentum and drive which sometimes characterizes the ambitious people persons of this world, but when this “drive” gets out of control and wreaks havoc within the confines of your own soul and your surroundings, then this is the point you know that this hunger of the person is severely detrimental.
The person is an expression of consciousness, but a very limited one. We human beings have the possibility of consciously choosing presence over person, and from there grace will undeniably show itself, both for the atheist and the religious one.
That being said, in contrast to the person, the presence is…
When you really come to understand and distinguish your sense of presence, one thing you are bound to arrive at is that it always seems to be fully fulfilled unto itself. Though you can have days with heavy mood-swings, or simply be confused, irritated, impatient. All this can happen all the while you notice something that is not affected by these transient states.
The transient state is most often the personal state, while the lasting state is the state of presence. Your presence always seems to be content, even though it may experience pain in the body or confusion in the mind. Your presence is ever independent and yet paradoxically, indistinguishably intertwined with each experience. Therefore “it” can never be hurt or confused, but those states can appear in it. No sensory, psychological, emotional impression can last as they all come and go, all the while your original presence seems to be ever relaxed and fulfilled unto itself!
What a marvelous discovery, don’t you think?
Presence is Timeless, Person is a Prisoner of Time
“We forge the chains we wear in life.”
The person has, is and always will be a product and therefore a servant of time. The personal state is something that dwells in time and therefore it is not stable. When one seeks to make stable that which by nature is unstable, one has left the path of wisdom. The person always projects its ideas and illusions unto reality, illusions that are most often or maybe always characterized by transience. This is precisely why it never seems to be content or at rest, it always has to achieve or create something to stay alive or relevant unto itself. It always moves about and doesn’t know the meaning of taking it easy.
The person, no matter how proud and grand it proclaims itself, is an existential prisoner that is always moving about restlessly and without any notion of grace. It’s a prison of time, while your presence is…
Yes you guessed it again! Your presence always finds itself in a timeless space of consciousness. Time cannot bind it in any way, shape or form, why? Well because presence is prior to time and the originator of it, which consequently means that it is beyond it.
The fascinating thing about time and the timeless, or perhaps the person and presence, is that the timeless views upon the time-bound without effort, intention and attachment. When one first comes closer and in contact with ones own sense of presence, its timelessness is something intuitively felt yet unfathomable. This unknown factor of presence could also be why many people when initially exposed to these potent ideas and this kind of language could be deterred or frightened.
Having said that, presence isn’t something your intellectual mind can investigate, as it can with all other phenomena that appear in the objective world, because how could the mind which arises out presence be a subject to the absolute subject. If this hurts your head, I apologize! But nonetheless it’s quite an important point to consider!
The intellectual mind wants features and distinguishing qualities it can observe and then deduce and infer from that, but presence is timeless and prior to this mind, therefore every attempt of the mind of trying to understand its originator is fruitless.
In conclusion, your presence is ever fulfilled and content and it being timeless is one of the main reasons why this is.
Presence is Stable, Person.. Not so much!
“The soul must remain in resigned humility just as the fountain relies on its source.”
Jakob Böhme (The Way to Christ, 1622)
I’ve touched on the instability of the personal state, and it is truly one of the defining features of the person. Since that which is bound by time always is subject to change, and that which is subject to change most often is in a state of flux, it cannot therefore be said to be stable in any real sense. Though it can be argued that its stability lies in its instability, or the unchanging lies in the changeful, however that would be making a philosophical point and you should thoroughly know that I do not view myself as a philosopher doing philosophy. No not at all, I’m simply attempting to transmit the freedom and luminosity of the state of presence compared to the person.
Back to the point. The person is not stable, though it very much wants to be so. It most often creates false illusions of safety and permanence, while in reality it is not. The mistake of the personal mode of consciousness is that it has its myriad of “false idols”, meaning that it directs its attention and belief unto things that are not really there. These “idols” most often are thoughts, projections and volatile emotions. The person attaches itself like glue unto most phenomena that it deems to be satisfying its identity and projections; it is therefore a cherry picker that has quite a difficult time just resting. Which leads to its restlessness which also is one of the main reasons why it is unstable.
Now in contrast to the person, your presence is much more unwavering. Your presence or your consciousness is like space, as it allows experiences to appear within it and it contains them without any effort or difficulty.
Presence is always in direct contact with your immediate reality, and through my meditative contemplations I have found it to be the most stable “thing” in my experience as a human being. Because everyone can attest to the fact that the body is constantly in flux and changing, as there are billions of processes that are going on in the physical body of a human being, or for that matter any advanced animal organism. The person is also in the mix when it comes to theses processes and changes, because the person or the ego-mind is itself a process, a very stubborn process who hijacks the consciousness and sometimes overrides the sense of presence. But you my friend, are wise and healthy in spirit, you know now this trick that is played and you shall overcome it!
That being said, only your consciousness and your presence is truly stable, even though within it all instabilities occur and take place. Consciousness in its original condition is untouched and forever unblemished by every experience, whether they be good or bad.
Because if you contemplate it, how can space be stained by that which is appearing in it. In the same way, our own awareness is immaculate and untouchable by every experience that occurs within it. It can never be blemished or defiled, it is ever pure and perfect unto itself. The grace is undeniable when this becomes your living experience.
I’m aware that this almost sounds religious, but I don’t consider myself to be religious, in fact, I was a hard-headed atheist not so long ago. But even the atheistic stand-point is incomplete, it is also based on the intellectual mind, while my quest is to switch your focus to your original mind, your presence.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.