• January 30, 2016

    You have often made the distinction between living in the present and being present in the present. Could you explain this distinction one more time?

    Yes, there is an important difference between them. When I am in the present, I have attention on my sensations and my surroundings. I experience the here and now. This marks an important transition in the quality of my experience, from dispersed and dissociated to observing and connected.

    Being present in the present is another step. It reflects a shift in ‘I’ as well as a connection to the present, a shift from personality to being.

    What enables this shift to happen?

    Agreement…which is an inner alignment with the present. Agreement is an act of will. It is much more than acquiescence, or acceptance, or a lack of disagreement. Agreement is a magic somersault in which we jump over our own knees, as Gurdjieff would say. It changes everything, at least for a moment, and yet it remains largely unknown to us.

    Do you understand how much of our life is spent in disagreement? Even when we appear to agree, we are partial in response, we reserve our disagreements and wait to see how it all plays out. We are half-hearted. We doubt, reject, resist, withhold. Therefore, we are never really where we are and when we are. Do we not usually have a preference for something else, somewhere else, at another time? How, then, is it possible to be present in the present?

    Agreement is a complete inner action which awakens the heart and engages being. The most available opportunity to initiate an action of the will is to agree to be where you are and when you are. In doing so, you become present in the present. Your being is engaged. You have momentary unity of your faculties.

    Agreement is not centered in the mind. It is an action experienced in the body. It can be known as a subtle sensation of movement in your viscera which frees the heart to feel.

    The most amazing thing is that when I am present in the present, I experience the present as a limitless volume of space and time. From the point of view of ordinary life, the present is impossibly brief and insubstantial…a fleeting moment of transition from somewhere to somewhere else, from what just happened to what could happen next.  The presence of my presence in the present shrinks the past and the future into very small compressed places, too small for presence to inhabit, while the present becomes a vast space for encountering the unknown.

    Related Posts:

    Being Present – May 28, 2015

    Agreement – April 23, 2015

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  • April 23, 2015

    I am working with the fact that I am often in disagreement with my surroundings.

    Observation of disagreement is valuable work on self. The room is too hot. The sun is too bright. The soup is too salty. I don’t want to do this right now… I want to do something else. Are we not nearly always in a state of disagreement, rejection, resistance? This is sensation-based, is it not? I seek to push things away from me that I think will not be pleasant. There is a physical contraction or recoil. My disagreement may be conditioned by past similar experience or it may arise from the fact that current experience contradicts my mood. In any case, my reaction is mechanical and it is some variant of ‘no’. Buddha called this averting.

    I would like to know if it is possible for me to move towards agreement.

    What we call agreement seems to be the opposite of disagreement.  I like my surroundings so I feel expansive. I want more of the chicken, my it’s good, this is a great party, I want to stay. I’m comfortable in my chair, listening to my music. My mood or past experience says to go with it. This is perhaps not so frequent a state as averting but it’s based on exactly the same phenomena…automatic reaction based on like instead of dislike. Buddha called this one clinging.

    Yes/no, like/dislike, grab/push. Clearly, this is all happening at the same level. We can move from one to the other but this movement does not involve a change in the nature of the experience, only its pleasantness. I would not call this agreement. It is slavery.

    Real agreement would mean aligning inner and outer. It would mean voluntarizing the present moment. It would mean participating in what is happening. Not necessarily to change it, which easily slips into disagreement, but to ride the wave and use it for its energy, its will and its possibilities. In this way, you are not separate from what is happening and you are able to influence it by your movement because you are part of the unfolding.

    Agreement is the beginning of real will…agreeing not because it is pleasant but because it opens the door to mastery of self and circumstances. Events have power over us because our mechanical reactions give them that power and cost us our mobility, our freedom to act. Can you choose when you are mechanical?

    Agreement starts small. Can you agree to be here? You may have noticed that I ask this question before meditation and zikr. Real agreement can sometimes be noticed as a sensation in the solar plexus but you cannot make this a rule and you certainly cannot engage will by squeezing your abs. That is similar to forcing hay through the wrong end of the elephant.

    But surely there are things that I must disagree with?

    Just because I speak favorably of agreement does not make it a god. Of course, this is a theoretical question on your part since you will never be able to agree to everything anyway. Real disagreement also has great value because it does not come from the machine. To stay on the path you must learn to say no and mean it. Such a no is not to avoid unpleasantness, it is to avoid betraying your conscience or your work.

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