22nd May. 2012.
I'm on my 3rd time through Michael Brown's The Presence Process. This takes us deeply into the Now. This is not an idealistic mental concept of the Now as a place of peace, ease and total contentment (this seems to be what is sold by much of the Now-centred New Age literature) but instead it takes you out of mental concepts of the Now, out of trying to "achieve" this elusive state of cessation of all painful emotions, away from reactive behavior designed to control experiences by seeking to avoid or achieve something by externally focused action, and into simple, unconditional non-doing and embracing of whatever is occurring right now. That means just simply bringing unconditional awareness to whatever is happening, even it's very painful and unpleasant.
It's an end to goal-seeking, an end to running after mental ideas of enlightenment, an end to seeking some sort of experience that is "better" than what is taking place Now. Instead of seeking something else, we turn around and face what is, cease attempting to change the images on the screen of awareness with external behavior, cease attempting to control and sedate the inner experiences (thoughts and emotions) with drugs, alcohol, "bliss-seeking spiritual practices", positive thinking or visualization, instead just allowing awareness to deeply permeate what is taking place.
This frees us from the very identification with ourselves as a Doer, or Ego, who is suffering from these experiences and needs to take action to change them. It also results in a growing inner strength and emotional maturity.
What is emerging?
There are a series of memories: mainly comprised of visual images, sounds, emotions. This is what I’d call “my life story”, it’s the ego’s definition of What’s Happened to Me.
Then there are a series of thoughts, beliefs and mainly fear-based emotions. This is the ego’s “personal context” given to the experiences that arise within awareness. It’s largely thought, which sews together that sense perceptions and emotions that arise within awareness, giving them meaning, and proposing courses of action. For example, I’m on my 3rd time through the Presence Process and have lost all desire to act and to work. This often occurs during the process for a time. The ego believes “I am doing the Presence Process and this is happening to me”. But is there really an I who is doing the process? There is definitely an inclusion of the Presence Process in a series of perceptions that arise within awareness, but it’s hard to find a real me who is doing it. The ego is also providing a fearful personal context: “I am a human being called Josh, and I have my life and my income to think about. What if I fail to achieve my financial goals as a result of going through this process? What if my career suffers and I don’t do so well?”. The sub-context of belief is in having to maintain and control the life experience, by outward action, so the experiences that occur are in line with what the ego wants to experience. But the truth is, outward action with the goal of improving the life experiences is always based on an imaginary projection of what the future will be like, and when arrived at, I find only the Now, and nothing has really changed.
As I’m proceeding through this process for the 3rd time, a lot has changed. There have been experiences of recognizing all perceptible objects (including internal objects such as bodily sensations, thoughts, and beliefs such as “I am a body”) as arising within awareness. This is an experience where it is noticed that even the belief and perspective: I am a body, perceiving an external world is simply a perception arising within awareness.
So the ego is still pretty active, it’s doing its thing, tying together experiences with a personal context and self-referencing, and identifying with the body. But there is now awareness of this as a perception arising within awareness. I’m not completely hypnotized into believing I am a human body who has to act and react in the world, seeking to control experiences so they fit in with my personal agenda. Gradually the personal agenda is being let go, and I’m sinking into the Now, and into the Witness, who is compassionately present with and aware of experience, but does not seek to change it.