Step Ten:

Continued to shift my thoughts (and actions) toward the positive, abide in presence, and cultivate that which brings value and joy to my life.

I, as my essential self—with all its divine qualities—will be present in my own life.  Through the awareness of my own conscious nature (and my unity with Spirit) I give form to Spirit’s divine qualities, such as joy, aliveness, fullness, freedom, and beauty. I will live my life such that I am rooted in my own center, in my essential presence, which is independent of my mind and feelings.  My own presence is who I really am; it is my conscious self, it is my true glory; it is the one who is living and experiencing my life—and this is the very aspect of my self which I have misplaces, and lost sight of.   In my normal awareness, it’s as if my conscious self were wholly missing—yet it is the most valuable aspect of myself, for it is who I truly am.  Thus, I will endeavor to abide in my own presence, to make it a living experience of my life, and to recognize it as my fundamental identity.

Discussion 1:

  Human beings exist in two simultaneous dimensions: a dimension that is timeless, ever-present, self-aware, and conscious (that which might be called the dimension of the soul or one’s true nature) and a dimension that is temporal, ever-changing, physical, and conditioned (which might be called the body-mind-ego dimension).  One dimension is that of the conscious subject, pure awareness; the other dimension is that of the object, that which the conscious subject is aware of. In normal consciousness we are only aware of one dimension of ourselves, our body-mind-ego, and we live our lives though this self-image (i.e., the idea we have of ourselves, who we believe our self to be).  As such, our life is flat, one-dimensional, and lacking.  In this flat, one-dimensional existence—where we live through the image we have of ourselves and not through our true self—we are wholly unaware of our true self and that aspect of our self which is truly alive. 

What we are trying to reach, or be, is our true self, our essential consciousness, pure subjectivity; we want to live our lives from that state of awareness, and recognize that essential presence to be our true self, who we really are.  (From that perspective we will see our human lives as but an expression of that pure essence of consciousness.)  This is called the “State of Presence.” This is a state of wholeness.  This is the gateway to the wonder of your own existence and unity with Spirit.

The face you had before you were born

If you did not have this body, these thoughts, this self-image what would remain?  What is present before all those conditions appeared?  (In Zen they phrase this question as, “What face did you have before you were born?”)  What is aware of all these things you now believe yourself to be?  We want to feel and become aware of that conscious self, that conscious aspect of self that is aware of your life—and we want to include an awareness of that conscious presence in our present state of awareness.  We want our conscious presence, who we really are, to be present in our life.  We want to be aware of the one who is truly alive.  We want to shift our sense of “I Am” from all that we are aware of, all that we now identify with (including our self-image), to that conscious presence.  Infinite Spirit creates this entire world but never loses its identity, it never loses the awareness of its own creative, conscious self.  Likewise, a human being should live his or her life but always be aware of his own conscious presence, that which he truly is and that which gives rise to his life.   

Embracing your own presence is not about being present or mindful, per se, but about embracing that ever-existing, pure consciousness in yourself.  Being present refers to being mindful of that which you perceive, the objective reality of your life; being in the State of Presence refers to being aware of the perceiver, the true subject of your life—moreover, that state is embodied when you become that pure awareness, and recognize it as your essential identity.  You are no longer aware of it, you realize that you are it. 

The essence of this practice is to expand your own awareness, to become that awareness, that conscious presence, which is always present.  One way to help direct your attention back to your own presence, amidst rising thoughts, is to ask yourself:  “Who is aware of the thoughts that are arising in my mind?   To whom do these thoughts arise?  Who is the conscious presence that exists before any thoughts arise?” 

Q: So, are being present and the State of Presence different, or are they two aspects of the same state?

  They are different, though being present, mindful of the objects, and present to perception (and not lost in your subconscious thoughts) is a prelude to the state where you are present, where your conscious self is present.  Being present or being mindful is a state of focus, where you are aware of objects; being presence, or being in the state of presence (where your own presence is present) is a state where you, your essential self or presence, is present.  You are not exclusively aware of objects in this state, but primarily aware of your own presence.  It may be compared to the state you were in as a child, when you would just sit there, present to yourself, and abide in the wonder of that state.  It is a state of simplicity, a state of just being yourself.  There is really nothing you have to do, just be.  However, since we have been conditioned to be aware of thoughts and objects, and since out mind is habitually focused on something other than our true presence, we have to make an effort to bring ourselves back to who we are.  Most of our time is spent on being who we are not, on being where we are not.  We have to come back to the here and now, just be, and not allow our mind to continually shunt our awareness to the past, the future, or to some outer object.

    If you look at your life, where you are in you life, you will notice that you are never really in your own life, you are never really present to yourself.  What you are aware of generally indicates where you are.  So, what are you aware of?  First, you may be aware of outer objects, your body, your thoughts, etc.  You may be playing a game of basketball, watching TV, or working on some project, where your total focus is outward, on the task at hand.  This is a state of focus or mindfulness, where you are present to what you are doing.  Then there is a state of un-mindfulness, or a subconscious state, where you are lost in your subconscious thoughts.  This is a state where you are not present to what you are doing or to yourself.  This is the state of “being lost in your thoughts” which most people find themselves in most of the time—but, they don’t even find themselves in that state because they are unconscious.  They are lost in that state of unconsciousness, and lost to themselves in that state.  So, we spend most of our lives aware of outer objects, thinking about something—present to that—or lost in our subconscious thoughts (most of which are based upon the past or future).  However, how much are we simply present with ourselves?  Not occupied with perceptions, thinking about something, or lost in our subconscious thoughts?  I would dare to say that only in brief moments, is a person fleetingly aware of his own presence, and rarely if ever does he abide there.  Again, in the beginning, to get back to this state of purity and simplicity, a person must consciously overcome his habitual conditioning and consciously direct himself to his own presence.  This conscious remembrance is needed so long as we remain ensconced in a state of total forgetfulness. That is the essence of what we are talking about in this step:  making a conscious effort to be present to yourself, to abide in a state of consciousness where you, your true self, is simply present.  In this way, when you come to more regularly abide in your own presence, you begin to discovery the splendor of this state.  This state of your own presence is the gateway which leads to the full unfoldment of yourself and your true qualities, and reveals your true oneness with Spirit.  You cannot expand and more deeply experience yourself, and your own qualities, if you are not present to yourself, if you are lost to yourself and living your life from some place where you are not.

Q: If the State of Presence is our true self, why then do we not feel the love, joy, and beauty of our true self when we become aware of it? Where is the bliss? 

    We must become who we are before we can experience the fullness our true qualities.  In our normal state we occasionally become aware of our true qualities—this is something different from becoming those qualities, realizing those qualities as our very own nature.  We cannot own or fully experience our true qualities from a place of being separate from them, form a place of not knowing or being who we truly are.  So, the full experience of our true qualities comes when we are fully established in, and as, our true self.  So long as we are fundamentally identified with (and occupied with) our limited human self, the full experience of our true qualities remains lost on us.

Discussion 2:
Unconditional Joy

Most people have been conditioned into believing that certain outer conditions must be in place, or outer criteria must be met, in order for them to feel the full capacity of their joy (or even a measure of it); they have lost the pure innocence of being able to feel the joy of life itself, which is one’s natural state and whose expression is not contingent upon of any outer condition.  Don’t place so much importance on positive thoughts—as these are most useful in overcoming or replacing negative thoughts; rather, feel and allow the pure positivity and fullness of your own nature to emerge.  That is where the true joy, aliveness, fulfillment, freedom, and beauty of life is found.

Discussion 3:
Ghost Talking

Avoid ”ghost talking”—which means, avoid speaking (in your mind) to someone who is not there.  You are the only one who can hear it.  And, if you are repeating something negative, or affirming something you don’t want to do, or invoking the presence of someone you do not like or do not want to talk with (so you can then talk with them in your imagination) you are the only one who is going to experience the negative and toxic fallout of those thoughts. 

Be careful of who you do talk with in your mind.  If you find yourself talking with someone you don’t like, repeating negative phrases to them, such as “I can’t do this,” “I don’t like that,” shift the dialogue to someone you do like.  Shift the thoughts to something you feel good about and which engenders a positive, uplifting vibration (as opposed to a negative, low one).   You might repeat some of the positive affirmations of the step you are working on, or the affirmation associated with Step one and your supreme nature.  You might say, “I am an individual expression of Supreme Spirit.”  If you were truly an expression of Supreme Spirit you would not repeat this phrase, any more than you repeat the phrase, “I am a man” or “I am a woman.”  If you were an individual expression of Spirit you would feel it, you would live it—you would not repeat, with words, what was already true.  The only reason to repeat this positive phrase is to overcome a negative phrase or mode, lift your vibration, and incline you back to the positive truth of your own nature.  But don’t hold onto the affirmation or the words—shift back to the state that they indicate.  Shift from the thoughts altogether and stay with the feeling.  Just hold the feeling and the positive vibration.  This positive feeling is always in resonance with your higher self (while your lower feeling is always in discord with it).  So keep coming back to the positive and beneficial feelings.

At first, this requires effort, conscious intervention, overcoming the negative thoughts or tendencies that arise from the subconscious mind.  Once you are able to touch your true self, and keep bring yourself back to that truth, it will exert its own positive influence over your mind.  It will naturally incline your mind toward the positive, toward the uplifting, toward that which is empowering, freeing, fulfilling, and beautiful—because that is its nature.  Things will incline toward the positive and without the need for the same kind of conscious effort.

Concern over others, worry about the problems of others, or negative inner dialogue to others, carries the same negative vibration as worry and negative dialogue about ourselves.   They are your thoughts, your feelings—regardless of who they are about you are the one who is experiencing their negativity.  And any negative thoughts, or vibration, (especially thoughts which are sustained, or have become tendencies) will attract more of the same in your world. So, be careful who you talk to in your mind.  Don’t talk with someone you don’t want around you, some you don’t want in your mind and in your life.

Recall that negative thoughts and feelings are often more tenacious than positive ones.  Any thought or feeling connected with fear, stress, anger, hopelessness, regret, etc. is more gripping (and more supported by one’s subconscious mind) because they are empowered by our innate survival instinct.  Fear grips our attention more strongly than neutral and most positive thoughts—especially for someone identified with the body, and living life through a body based-self-image.  So, when thoughts and feelings are fear-based (or based on “low vibration” emotions) they are quite gripping and we must exert our conscious will, and keep intervening with positive thoughts and emotions, to neutralize or overcome them.   If we tend toward negative thoughts and feelings we have out work cut out for us; ultimately, we don’t want to simply neutralize each negative thought or feeling with something positive—as this takes a lot of mental energy—we want to change the beliefs (in our subconscious mind) upon which these habitual thoughts and emotions are based.  This, however, is no easy task; we must be vigilant, we must have a desire to make positive improvements in our life; we must use our conscious intelligence and our positive will—again and again.  We must work our way out of this.  There is really no other way.  But, with the right attitude, with the right understanding, and with the support of the right people, this task becomes a lot easier and more joyous.


State of Presence

     One of the few pillars of Enlightenment is recognition of the State of Presence, which is Awareness without content.
    (Aziz, Transmission of Awakening, p. 146)

     The State of Presence can be understood or translated within you as the experience of “I” or pure Me.  But this Me is not an ego, it is not the self-image of an outcome or thoughts—it is an energy presence which is felt.  There is no other way to disarm the unconscious mind but through giving rise to the State of Presence.  It is the only opposing force within the mind which can transform the function of the mind.  It is not enough to observe the mind.  You can observe the mind for one hundred years and nothing will fundamentally change.  It is only the opposing force, which is the presence of pure Me, that can fully transform the mind.   
    (Aziz, Transmission, p. 155)

Being in the State of Presence or non-dual Awareness does not mean that there is no mind, that the thought process gets erased.  There are still some thoughts and it is really irrelevant whether thoughts are present of absent.  Who you are is multidimensional.  The existence of the State of Presence and the movement of the mind do not contradict each other.  They both constitute what we call the mind or consciousness. 
    (Aziz, Transmission, p. 156)

     What most people try to do is to be fulfilled only on the outside but one cannot be fulfilled on the outside unless the ‘I Am’ is present.  If a person is not grounded in the ‘I Am,’ if there is no center of identity, the mind creates endless desires, and the true desire of the Soul cannot come to the surface.  Therefore, first we create the inner foundation, inner sanity, where we are grounded and connected, resting within.  Next, from the place of inner wholeness, we fulfill ourselves in the world, experiencing human love and creativity.  Here we have to be attuned to our Soul’s true desire.  
    (Aziz, Transmission, p. 222)

The ‘I Am’ state cannot be experience unless one develops tools on how to go beyond the mind, because identification with the mind, the identification with the thought process, keeps one in a very narrow state, in a very limited, fragmented state.  That’s why one of the foundations of the science of meditation, the science of awakening, is the development and growth of Awareness.  Awareness is the light which transcends and dispels the cloud of unconsciousness in our own mind.  Awareness is a tool of freedom from the mind.  From a certain perspective it is a goal. But from a higher perspective it is a tool [or a first step]. 
    (Aziz, Transmission, p. 224)

     Give all your attention to the level on which ‘I am’ is timelessly present. . . Establish yourself firmly in the awareness of “I am.”  This is the beginning and also the end of all endeavor. 
        (Nisargadatta, I Am That, p. 240 Chapter 16)

     Your endeavor, then, is not so much to find God as it is to realize His Presence and to understand that this Presence is always with you.  Nothing can be nearer to you than that which is the very essence of your being.  Your outward search for God culminates in the greatest of all possible discoveries—the finding of Him at the center of your own being.
         (Holmes, This Thing Called You, p. 140)

     This is the [true] meaning [and purpose] of prayer: Prayer is not a foolish seeking to change the mind of Supreme Wisdom [so as to have it conform to, and act in accord with, our limited conception of life], but it is an intelligent seeking to embody that [highest] wisdom in our thoughts so as to more and more perfectly to express it in expressing ourselves. Thus, as we gradually grow into the habit of finding this inspiring [and life-affirming] Presence within ourselves—and of realizing its forward movement as the ultimate determining factor in all true healthful mental action, it will become second nature to us to have all our plans, down to the apparently most trivial, aligned with the undercurrent of this Universal Intelligence.  Accordingly, a great harmony will come into our lives; every discordant manifestation will disappear; and we shall find ourselves naturally enjoying the fullness of life and coming upon the forms that we desire.    
        (Troward, The Hidden Power, p. 60-61)

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