Three dimensions of presence
Let yourself come to stillness and settle into a direct intuition or knowingness of primary oneness or beingness. The oneness more deeply implies only-ness, and that “everything else” is an appearance, modification, differentiation or expression of that.
This oneness can be intuited in three primary ways, which I call three dimensions of presence: the all-pervading, the indwelling and the transcendent, or more simply, the around, the within and the above.
The all-pervading presence is like the infinite, all-embracing expanse of space. It’s the oneness as the all, not like some itemized list but something you directly intuit. This sense of allness can be a sense of totality, including all forms, and it can also be a sense of the universal ground of being, from which all forms arise. Take some time to be with this now by sensing into the totality of your being and beyond, into all.
Another is the indwelling presence, like the ground of your own being, your inmost essence or core, without that being taken as a separate thing. It is rather like an instantiation of the universal, a point of being that is being neither this nor that, from which a unique expression or personalization grows. Take some time now to access this in your innermost heart.
The third is the transcendent presence, which is neither outer nor inner but higher, which is metaphorical for that which transcends space, time, mind and self altogether. We can call it source, prior or ultimate reality. Take some time to open to this by opening the crown of your head to its downpouring influence, before which everything surrenders and empties.
The deepest mystical truth and mystery is that these three dimensions are all fundamentally one and not separate. This translates into a sense of fundamental OKness, embodied here and now.
The spiritual path has always involved overcoming the sense of egoic separation — from the universe or all, from one’s deep nature (and others), and from ultimate reality. The three dimensions represent three modes of basic alienation, as well as three modes of overcoming it in union. The all-pervading is the sense of being one with all, which can be called cosmic consciousness, or any intuition of an oneness with nature.
The indwelling presence is the sense of being one with one’s innermost being or essence, which can be called self-realization, or any intuition of one’s being beyond name and form.
The transcendent is the sense of surrender (of separate will and being) to the highest, which can be called union with God, or any intuition of opening to higher power. Take some time to enter into these now, to any degree and in any way you can.
These three dimensions are also directly related to the psychological. They represent three important healthy ways of relating to psychological content. All three presume the basic skill of being present to, and conscious of, what is arising, even if resistance or judgment is arising.
The all-pervading provides a sense of spaciousness that abides in itself at ease, in peace. It is that within which all content arises. Even if reactivity or anger arises, it is arising within that space which itself is not reactive or angry. This is a basic psychological skill to cultivate.
The indwelling provides the capacity to witness what arises, not dissociated but the capacity to be “in but not of” the content. Since the inmost core of any experience is pure presence or beingness, it invites deeper inquiry into any experience beyond its outer appearance to reveal its hidden lessons and treasures. The basic skill to cultivate here is the capacity to be intimately present with your own experience, to feel it deeply and directly, prior to labels, judgments and narratives.
The transcendent provides a sense of opening beyond one’s personal drama to higher guidance, grace and blessing. It is the capacity to open to a higher view or perspective of whatever seems to be the reality.
The mystical, the spiritual, the psychological and the creative weave together in the tapestry of life in unfolding wholeness.
Ed Hirsch facilitates small weekly gatherings in presence, making use of an embodied system of guided practices. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email 600- to 700-word articles to Sally McKirgan at email@example.com.