One of the simplest things there is – and one of the most difficult things there is – is finding presence.
It is both the simplest and the most difficult.
It is the simplest because it is all there is.
And it is the most difficult because since it is all there is, we take it for granted, we don’t see it.
There is a quote I like very much:
‘We glide upon an intense radiance we do not see because we see nothing else’.
We get lost in our minds, in our thoughts, in our memories, in plans, worries, ideas, projects, hurts, and, like this, we miss the experience of now, of being here, of realizing the simple sense of existence, of I Am.
Just for a moment, after you read this paragraph, close your eyes (or not), take a breath (or not), and sense that presence, sense that existence, sense the simple feeling of being alive, right here, right now.
Notice that in that space there is peace, there is happiness.
(I often resist using the word happiness because our idea of happiness is something closer to being in a party or getting what we want, but that is not what I mean by it. For me, happiness is about finding a sense of inner peace, contentment and fulfillment.)
And this peace can be found here and now; always here, always now.
But because the mind is generally busy thinking, planning, lost in its ‘ten thousand thoughts’, as the Buddhists used to say, we miss this simple – so very simple! – but always reachable, always available amazingly profound experience of now, of presence, of being.
In this now there is always peace.
No matter how crazy life is, no matter how many problems we feel we have, there is always peace in the now.
Everybody has problems; problems with the body, with family, with money, with health, with other people, with relationships, with the job, with the weather, with the government, with taxes… there is always something going on.
But notice (this is very subtle and not so easy to notice) that all these problems are at a distance from us. They appear to be one with us, but they are not (just like the sky seems to be blue but it is not)!
For the problems to affect us, we need to go to them, grasp them, and then hold on to them. And we do this by thinking about them, by remembering them, by bringing them to mind.
But just prior to that, there is this space of now.
And this space of now does not need to be thought about, does not need to be remembered.
Everything else, absolutely everything, is at a distance from us, except for the space of now which does not need neither time nor space to be reached; it is prior to both!
A thought, for example, depends on time and space. I am here, the thought is over there, and when a thought appears in the mind, I need to travel from here to there in order to find it.
Try it now.
Have a thought, any thought… like: ‘two plus two is four’. Notice that you are here and the thought ‘two plus two is four’ is at a distance from you. (Yes, it may feel that it is at an extremely short distance, compared to the chair or the tree or whatever it is that you have in front of your eyes, but still, it is separated from you.)
Everything, absolutely everything else (inside of our mind or outside, in the world) needs to be reached by both time and space, except for the space of now which can only be reached by being. There is no distance at all to travel; being is already here, it is always here, it is always now. No time and no space separate us from it.
The way to reach the space of now, of being, is not by thinking, not by remembering, not by planning, hoping or desiring, but by being it; the only way to find presence is to BE it.*
There is an analogy I like to use to illustrate this. I have used it before, but it is so beautiful that I don’t mind using again. It is about the fish looking for water. When we are looking for the space of now, we are like a fish that has heard that there is something beautiful called water and wants to find it. The fish swims around looking for that water, but it cannot find it. It swims all over, it goes here and there, it looks under the rocks, and close to the shore and in the depth of the sea, but still cannot find it. And then one day the fish goes to a yoga class and the yoga teacher says: ‘look, it is here, it is everywhere!’ But the fish keeps asking: ‘Where? Where? I cannot see it!’
This is precisely how it is with the space of now. Because it is everywhere, it is the easiest thing to find, but also the most difficult one!
It is close, SO CLOSE!, closer than close.
In reality, it is closer than the fish is to the water.
The fish cannot BE water, but we can BE presence. Literally.
We are, literally, the now.
Again, after you read this paragraph, close your eyes, take a breath, and BE. In your own experience, not because you are reading it in this note or because somebody else is saying it (and this is really the only way to find it, in our own experience), discover that You are the Now. Don’t think about it, don’t reason about it, don’t remember it, don’t plan it; don’t go anywhere! Just stop and discover Being.
And it is in this Being, in this space of now, in what we really are that we find peace, we find happiness and contentment.
And isn’t this what we all want? Isn’t it precisely because of this that we are all going to so many places all the time? Why do we travel so much, either physically or mentally?
We go to places because we hope that we can finally find some peace, some contentment, some happiness.
But it just happens that exactly what we want is what we already have! Right here, right now; always.
And that peace and contentment are independent of all the problems and craziness the mind may seem to have and experience.
Just prior to any thought, any memory, any idea, any plan, just prior to any movement of the mind, there is always peace, and that peace is our nature, it is our birthright, it is the very heart of what we truly are.
We are not denying or running away from our problems, not at all! The problems will still be there, but instead of believing we are the problems, we understand we are the peace that can take care of those problems.
We are not running, we are only uncovering our true nature.
It is the amazing discovery that at the very essence of our being there is silence, and in that silence there is always peace and there is always contentment.
Independent of all the craziness that may be outside in the world or inside of the mind, when we find ourselves, we find peace.
*In this note I use the words being, now, space of now, presence as synonyms.
The problem with understanding the meaning of these words is that what they are pointing to is neither a verb nor a noun nor an adjective.