Wilkinson, John A. W.
Being Present and Other Articles
I notice that you referred to "noticing" things and then said: "also in practical things", as though these two are separate. What is important here is something Mr Gurdjieff constantly reiterated and which can be summed up as: "Make the Work practical; bring it into the body." So you see that even the act of noticing can remain purely theoretical and a "good idea".
This is a big secret, which many G people have totally missed. I must bring my noticing into my everyday activities, that way I am beginning to learn to work in a "2-centred" way. If I learn to notice in practice, then I will find I am unable to leave things as they are and I will have an organic necessity to change.
All Action Is Doing
All action is doing, whether it be thinking, feeling or sensate. It has a direction, a purpose, a beginning and an end. When there is excessive doing it becomes violence, which is usually destructive.
Juxtaposed with this is being, which has nothing to do with doing. It is a state of consciousness, of integration. I cannot "try" to be, just as I cannot "try" to relax. Learning to relax is the beginning of learning to be.
Why is it so difficult to be present? Why is it that when ‘I am present’ I am often busy sensing an arm or a leg, rousing the feelings, thinking about it. Or alternatively I become shy, nervous, afraid, angry or arrogant, which really means that these states or activities are present but I am not actually present.
What is the difficulty, what is the problem? This is a very serious question. It is as though I have got into the habit of pretending, or imagining, or deluding myself that I am present when I know that I am not.
When I AM PRESENT I enter into a state of being that is very special, and yet it is the very thing I was created for. It entails being fully aware of where I am and eventually who I am. This means noticing and taking responsibility for my world and the world around me. Inwardly we know this, but spend our time avoiding it. We need to learn to be present because it is only when I am present that real transformation can happen.
Look again at the Sufi poem ‘Knowing’, it is a document well worth studying. But be careful whilst studying as you might become present and then things might actually happen to you.
Being Present in the Experience
Let’s look at two ways of experiencing things:
In the first one I am not present so It – the automatism – experiences things. It can experience at various levels but only through accident, shocks and through its habitual patterns of thinking, feeling and moving. This is how we experience things most of the time.
It is a fact however that this experiencing can bring about my becoming present. This is the second way of experiencing – when I am present within the experience. I find that there are levels of consciousness within that one experience. My ability to gain access to these levels will depend upon the quality of energies that I have available. These energies of different qualities can be transformed or transmuted through exercises of one sort and another. What is very important to learn is not to waste these valuable energies on trivial experiences or ingrained habit patterns.
Mr Bennett talked about the Present Moment and having the capacity to expand this – to be able in the moment to experience past and future as one, or to experience higher and lower as one. There is a phrase in the Sarmaun recital ‘Knowing’, which indicates that this is the path of transformation: "By His presence alone Man will be transformed".
The only intelligent way to learn about myself and what this comprises is to be present in every situation; to learn to be comfortable, be uncomfortable, be sad, be happy, be angry, be in pain, be trusting, be honest, be kind, be tolerant, be intolerant and everything in between. How can I know myself if I haven’t been present in all the situations that it is possible for me to experience?
It can learn, but in a very limited, restricted way. Learning things through being present is almost limitless and its limits depend more on my strength of being and the energies available.
What is important is that I learn to be present in my body first. It’s rather like being a deep-sea diver: in order to remain on the ocean bed he needs the lead weights to keep him grounded. The body is like the lead weights – it can keep me grounded and through it I can explore the depths of my being.
Real change can only come about when I really know myself in all situations, all levels of consciousness. I can only know myself when I am present. When I know myself thoroughly change comes about. It is as though the depth of knowledge of myself observing myself brings about changes within myself. Perhaps this is what the Sufi’s mean by ‘real knowledge’. We study others in order to see facets of ourselves.
To be able to be present requires:
A strong intent to do it
· An environment which is conducive; although one can learn to have a strong enough presence to do it anywhere
· Stopping inner talking
· Absence of the results of physical tension
· Absence of the results of emotional reactions
· Absence of fixed thinking and daydreaming
· Sensation of the living body
· Focus of the feeling energies through breathing
· Quietening of the fevered mentation and the presence of a stable thought
· A joyous acceptance of the Grace entering
In other words, real presence has all 3 centres in balance, or reasonable balance, and the entry of ‘I’ within. Try to expand the sense of presence outwards from the body once it has become established so that one can look outward from the body and take in the world around, including other presences. This sense of presence can be expanded into the astral and the causal realms so that the ultimate presence has all 4 worlds together, present and in balance.
All this can be achieved by the constant practice of being present in the body.