INVOCATION OF PRESENCE
Say aloud: “I invoke the presence of my presence into the present.”
How does this actually work?
Let’s begin by understanding what invocation implies. First, it implies that humans can call things to themselves. This is a very important point. It is possible for us to ask and then receive. It is often not required that we know how to produce something for ourselves. Some very valuable attainments are possible only for the asking, and only by asking.
Real asking is a special state. Usually we ask as a kind of complaint, as a statement that we are lacking something. Or our asking is a kind of demand. Perhaps you ask with the expectation that you will be denied. All these forms of asking are unworthy and unlikely to succeed. Real asking is a supplication, based in quiet submission. The one who invokes relaxes and gives way.
Presence always exists but it is often not present; it is, in fact, absent. Therefore, the invocation is a request for presence to be present in the present, in the tangible here and now. This form of invocation also implies that experiencing the present is not the same thing as being present. The present is ‘here and now’. Being present is ‘I am here now’ but the ‘I’ is not like any I that I know.
Who invokes presence?
Why, the sleeping machine of course, who else is there? By the machine I mean the organic body and the ordinary mental apparatus together with all of the usual habits and identifications. The machine invokes. In that gesture, it relaxes itself and invites another to occupy it, which is presence. But do not think that presence is just another identity or entity of a better sort. Presence is not a thing, an entity. It is a state of being which is entirely without boundaries to define it. Presence conveys a sense of existing but not as something.
How can I know I am present?
Presence knows directly and immediately that it is present. Immediately means no mediation, which means there is nothing outside presence declaring a state of presence. To be present means not being identified. It is not unusual to experience the state of presence as spacious, somewhat luminous, more ‘aware’ and so on. When the machine notes these transitory phenomena, it then tries to manufacture them in order to fabricate presence. The asking is lost. This approach is always unsuccessful. The machine is completely other than presence and presence is not defined by any phenomena.
Is this invocation the only way to be present?
Certainly not. Your relationship with certain people, places and tasks may call you to be present. Your machine submits so that you can enter into the relationship and share the intimacy of presence. Zikr calls my presence by invoking a greater presence. Noticing my mechanical patterns of sleep can invite presence to be present.
These attention exercises tend to inform each other. Perhaps you will find that one is more accessible than the others.
Attention on Sensation
Use your thinking to direct attention to your hands. Attention directed by thought is “head brain attention” which is weak and doesn’t last long. Once attention is on the hands, can you remove the intermediation of thought?
Removing the chattering head brain is a tricky business unless you are alert to its devious methods of intervention. If you are thinking of your hands, saying the word “hands” as a reminder, imagining your hands, asking if your hands are being properly sensed etc., your head brain is still the mediator and this diverts attention from sensing to mental content.
Can you let attention do the work directly, allowing bare attention to awaken sensation in that place where you would say your hands are (if you were actually saying that to yourself, which hopefully you are not)? Can sensation and attention form a reciprocally reinforcing connection that does not require thought to sustain it? This is an instantaneous occurrence which may soon be followed by thinking but that fact doesn’t invalidate the preceding direct experience.
This exercise brings you into the present…the here and now…which is not quite the same as the state of being present but it is at least in the right neighbourhood.
This exercise can provide insights into the operation of your head brain and it may serve to train your thinking apparatus to vacate temporarily the between state it loves to occupy in your experience. Perhaps you will find that thoughts can arise without getting in between.
This exercise can provoke an experience of unmediated or “being attention” which is entirely impersonal and magical in nature. In the same way that gravity is a universal property of a physical universe, attention is a universal property of a knowing universe.
Choose an object and look at it steadily. Is there not a structure to this experience–the object, the activity of seeing it and me, the one who sees? Can this three-part structure itself be seen as it occurs? Does attention flutter between these three, perhaps giving preference to me, the observing/commenting part?
Can the observer be dropped from this structure so that there is only the object and seeing? Can you release thinking and the sense of existing as a separate entity? The object fills the eyes and attention fully engages with the object which momentarily erases me, replacing the observer with the observed.
Whole Body Attention
Is it possible to sense all the sensations of the body simultaneously? Seeing (eyes open), hearing, where the body touches objects, air on the face, smells if any, aches and pains? Not one more than another? Your thinking mind will start to jump around, trying to determine if everything is being sensed, but thinking of one particular after another. That’s not simultaneous now is it? Can you let attention do the work? Unlike your thinking, attention can attend to many things at once, in real time. Many sensations…one attention (as long as thinking does not interfere).
This is an exercise in learning to trust” being attention”. Your body’s sensations call attention. Attention magnifies and feeds on these sensations provided they are experienced directly. Another energy is created by the interaction of attention and sensation. Can you experience this fact?