The word 'presence' often appears in spiritual conversation. I remember being confused when I first encountered the idea of presence because of the various ways in which the word was being utilized. It became helpful in my understanding to learn that there are at least 2 distinct ways in which presence might be considered. The first way, and one that many teachings consider foundational, is to become fully aware of the content of your immediate experience in each moment. Leonard Jacobson explains this approach by writing:
The only way to bring yourself fully present is to become present with whatever is actually here now with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it or smell it, then it is here now with you. It is present. You honor that which is present by being present with it. The more you honor that which is present and the more grateful you are for that which is present, the more you will deepen into presence.
John Pendergast in his book In Touch refers to this 1st way as present-centered, and distinguishes it from a 2nd way which he says refers to the recognition of awareness itself, the context rather than the content.
A.H. Almaas writes about presence:
We realize that 'being here' means, 'I am actually the presence that I am. I am here at this very moment, and my experience is not a mental construction dredged up from my past. I am just what I am in my factness, and I am experiencing this moment completely, directly, without anything intervening. I am the very awareness, the very consciousness, that is present, that exists, in this very moment, and I am experiencing myself as that very existence.
When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises. You become more conscious of what's around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.
~ Eckhart Tolle
If you give yourself one complete minute of focused presence, to simply stop; even to listen to your heart beating, it will take you out of your head and introduce you to the moment... which is complete in itself. It is not on the way to another moment. It is not a bridge to another opportunity. It is the timeless perfection... So stop...and sink into this timeless moment.
When your mind is still, you have no name, you have no past, you have no relationships, you have no country, you have no spiritual attainment, you have no lack of spiritual attainment. There is just the presence of beingness with itself.
When personal identification vanishes, all that then remains is a sense of presence without the person, which gets translated into a feeling of life as total freedom.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
In our innocence, we listen to thoughtÕs interpretation of who we are and what is happening in our life. And yet in the background, there is a presence of such intelligence and wisdom that is already carrying the life we call ours. This is our natural Self. What's looking and what's seeing? There's not that much there. There's just this simple, ordinary presence, and it is so unadorned. You can run right by it if you're looking for something fancy. It's always been here, it has no age, it doesn't really have any properties or qualities, it's just this intelligence. It's so quiet, that's why they call it silence.
~ Pamela Wilson ¥
It does not matter what you are present with, as long as you are present with something that is actually of the moment. It is impossible to be watchful of the ego unless you are sufficiently grounded in Presence. Otherwise, it is the ego watching itself. It is like a dog chasing its own tail. You will not awaken. It is essential to know the distinction between awakened Presence and the ego. There is a simple test of Presence. If you are truly present, your mind is silent. There are no thoughts. That is the test and it is not negotiable. Everything else is ego. As you awaken into Presence, you will experience a gradual revelation of truth, first about yourself and your life, then about your soul and its journey, and then about the true nature of God and existence.
~ Leonard Jacobson
The most important thing to remember about Presence is that Presence is already here . . . that it is not something we are going to acquire in the future, that it is not something that is going to be given to us . . . that it is something that is here already and that we can notice it at any given moment.
Presence is an actual sense of hereness - beyond our emotions, beyond the mind, beyond our ideas. In presence, we can know ourselves in a way that is authentic, which means that we are knowing what is real in us. When we feel presence, we are experiencing our underlying reality. It feels more real than the physical, the emotional, or the mental realms of experience. And it can't be defined in any of those terms.
~ A.H. Almaas
Then, at some point, the ego is reabsorbed into our witnessing presence, which reveals itself as the eternal beauty, absolute truth, and supreme bliss we were seeking. Instantaneously, we are established in the certitude of our primordial immortality. This sudden revelation of our non-dual nature can't be properly described through words to someone who is still under the illusion of the duality of subject and object. Such a person will understand those words in relative terms, as an objective experience. It is the only kind of experience he can conceive.
~ Frances Lucille
There is a way between voice and presence where information flows. In disciplined silence it opens. With wandering talk it closes.
A stillness underneath the chaos - the ground in which events appear. Some call it presence or pure awareness. I call it home now. And I live from here.
If you cannot feel God's presence Then feel your own presence And know it as God If you cannot find love It is because you are seeking it In time and in space If you do not know your path It is because you are already walking it (Fearlessly, and without a map) If you cannot reach the answers now It is because you are embracing the questions (Answers come in their own sweet time) When you feel far away from God When Home seems like a distant memory You are closer than you could possibly imagine So breathe, and love the next step
~ Jeff Foster