Almost ten years after discovering “Presence” as an intellectual concept, the active awareness of embodied life, movement, emptiness, now-ness, whatever words we want to wrap our minds around the divinity of aliveness, of this-here-now, yes, the Church of Whaz Happenin’ Now, I am finally more deeply realizing my fierce bodily resistance to Presence.
We may have been born free of thought watching that mobile-like-thingee dance around above our cribs, hello smiling face, milky spurts of joy, warm diapers of release, ow that hurts!, cuddle-hug, but we soon learn to compartmentalize through language–and, yes, admit it, to discern and judge–and soon we tiptoe in a hushed dream world of abstract thoughts and concepts, far from initial perception, the pure presence of a breast, that dollie, that spinning top, squirming toes.
Add sixteen years, or twenty-nine, or seventy-three, and pretty soon we’re ensconced in a dream-world of abstract thought. We’ve labeled everything dead. We’ve removed ourselves from rain’s soft cold chill. We’ve insulated ourselves in a make-believe world about six steps away from that which just revealed itself to us here, now.
It’s amazing that we can perhaps, if we’re lucky, intellectually understand Presence within a moment of reading about it. Our heart can sometimes resonate–yes, yes! that’s what I want, O Presence, Come Hither!–but to live it, truly live it, at the level of feet and knees, in this particular room, by this sky, near the humming of the heater, to realize it at the level of the nervous system (O Ye Nervous System, trained in Thought and Belief Politics) it’s another matter.
I realize, meditation after meditation, day after day, how this body, this being, has forgotten to relax completely into this moment. How this nervous system cranks up like an over-wired motor at times, reaching out to do, do, do. How impossible it feels to sit, sit, sit, doing nothing, allowing Being to dance its empty-full dance.
About two months ago, one morning at work, I realized the depths of my body’s inability to relax. This is a body that relaxes day after day, never turning on the television, walking long hours in nature. Yet, truly, the nervous system still zings, zangs, refuses to decompress to the open expanse of Presence.
As this realization arose, the body relaxed. It simply let go. Ahhhh…into here…this wooden door, that computer over there, all simply being. And I simply released into being. Awareness joined awareness in the room, finally, at a body-level, a being-level, yes, here, now, finally.
It didn’t stay relaxed, mind you. It soon returned to pre-surrendered levels of abstraction, but for long moments of now it realized its innate resistance to Presence.
Non-dualists will say we’re always awareness, we’re always already complete–and yes, of course we are. That’s our great secret gift! We’re already that which we seek.
However, our nervous systems–let alone our minds and hearts–have often forgotten. We can lose ourselves in days and weeks and lifetimes of imaginations, can’t we, a step distant from what reveals itself here, now?
I could tell stories until they throw clods of soil over these decomposing bones and perhaps, if awareness still lingered near the body, finally realize the joy in that grave-digger’s shovel, the heavy wet feel of dirt without labeling, without making it a tragedy or a release, without making it anything that would disguise the moment into a personality with an experience, a multi-layered story, a song separate from itself.
Every day now I want to spend more time simply surrendering to what arises. Here, now, enough.
Here, now, more than enough.
You can see how true it is. That which we truly are shines like the brightest clearest sun, perfectly radiant, perfectly relaxed, perfectly compassionate, perfectly open.
What arises–even our imperfect personalities–is also perfect, but we don’t really see that beyond a mental concept of perfection–until the nervous system relaxes and moves through our mornings, afternoons and evenings in tandem with the arising.
When the nervous system moves effortlessly with the arising–here, now–the tea cup moving, fingers clasping ceramic, hot, mint, liquid, no me, no tea, no other, one movement, one sip, one taste–then resistance is seen as yet another story, a little chuckle, a guffaw, less than a story, more than a song, but it’s over before you label it and awareness moves on toward itself and there’s nothing to grasp because you’re free, simply, totally free.