About 20 years ago when I was on Clearing Practitioner training course in California, I went out for a meal with some of the students. There was a Mexican couple waiting at their table for lunch with their little son. While they were waiting for their meal I observed their little boy get up and wander around the restaurant.
He would stand in front of some tables silently watching people talk. When no-one noticed him he would go and do the same thing in front of other tables. But no-one paid attention to him. Perhaps they imagined he would interrupt their conversations.
He came and stood in front of our table and I decided to pay attention to him.
When I looked at this 5 year old boy I could see that he was so inquisitive and so excited about his life. He had the deepest brown eyes and was so amazingly open, innocent and loving. He reminded me of the way I used to be when I was his age and the state of being I was in then. I was trying in my spiritual growth to get back to that state but only with more self-consciousness.
I playfully looked in his eyes and said "I see you".
When he heard me, he jumped up with joy and ran back to his parents table and hugged his father. His father and I exchanged a smile as if to say "What a beautiful being, eh?" The little boy stayed with his parents for the rest of the meal, completely satisfied and didn't wander around anymore.
This was a powerful lesson he taught me:
We all want to be seen for who we really are.
Isn't this so true? How much pain is there in the world because we are not being seen for who we really are? How much difference could we make in one moment in another's life if we just noticed them?
If we could notice that others are just as human as we are;
they have life in them;
they share similar problems;
they have a story of struggle;
they are trying to get by;
they want to be loved and to have their love received;
they are just as real as everyone else.
And just like you they don't want to be treated like an object... to be viewed by our labels: coloured, white, Jew, Arab, Liberal, Conservative, man, woman, and on and on...
Yes we all have a body but we don't want to be treated just as body. We somehow know that we are more than this. We have a non-physical presence. We have dreams. In our experience of life we want to know what this life is really all about. We want to find out who we are and maybe discover that we are all divine... trying discover what that means.
How many conflicts inter-personally even globally could just stop right at the beginning if we just really saw one another as we are and let go of our false perceptions.
The dynamic of one's presence is so vastly underrated in life and in fact often not even noticed in its transformative power. There is an old Chinese saying:
"There is s sovereign in all of us and when we notice it, it will come out".
I have witnessed this countless times on my retreats and in my one-to-one work. Sometimes a participant will be struggling to get a communication across to a partner in the paired self-inquiry process I employ. A staff member will come over and gently with full awareness, put their attention on that person not just as a body, but on that person as a spiritual being in human form knowing that individual has the innate ability within themselves to find their own way through the difficulty. Within a matter of a few seconds to a minute, that person makes a breakthrough into a crucial insight.
In addition, when another in full presence sees the spiritual nature of another, that individual begins to become more conscious of that essence in themselves and is more able to live from that centre.
Our accepting compassionate presence allows others to be the way they really are and to access and communicate the truth of themselves, where in the past they have had to hold back in the face of others judgement.
Eckhart Tolle in his book "The New Earth" describes it this way:
"When another recognizes you, that recognition draws the dimension of Being more fully into this world through both of you. That is the love that redeems the world".
It is what I have termed Co-evolution; the deepening of self-awareness is the result of being present to each other. As that awareness of ourselves and others expands, understanding and compassion grow and we naturally begin to treat others better. The simple act of presence can change the world.
The Energy of Presence
When we connect with others and hold the space for them to be exactly as they are, we are adding our chi or psychic energy to theirs. The barriers they have created in their minds have been created with only their energy. Therefore they cannot uncreate these by just using their limited power. When we add in our listening energetic presence they can now get through these blocks.
It is truly amazing. It is magic to behold. Without doing anything, all that is necessary is done.
On a very deep level, we owe our sense of existing to being seen. It is one of the most powerful things when a child is born to have his/her parents see them for the first time. It is certainly the first breath that brings that soul to life but it is also the powerful love and attention directed at that child that brings them into life.
There is perhaps a principle of life here: when others connect to us, we connect to ourselves.
It is the reason why solitary confinement in prison is so painful. We have no sense of self when there are no others on a consistent basis, to notice our existence. It is excruciating. Some may think that this is somehow dysfunctional and label this as co-dependence. In my opinion it is a natural condition of life, or inter-dependence.
In fact there is a childhood trauma called "attachment disorder" quite common in our modern culture, where parents so intent on becoming materialistically successful, provide all the material security for their children but ignore really being with them. They instead let TV, video games, the internet and other childcare providers be the parents. These children grow up socially awkward with an impaired ability to communicate and connect with others.
Presence to Self
But there is more to presence than this. For one to be totally present to others, for co-evolution to be active, we need to be present to ourselves: to be awake to our real essence. When we reside in our true nature we are naturally authentic. There is no trying to be authentic. It is effortless.
In contrast, we have all had the experience of relating to others stuck in a phony personality or ego state: the actor, the clown, the bully, the princess, the victim, the drama queen, the expert, the lover, the salesman, etc. These states all require energy to maintain and are all manipulative: designed to create an impression or get something from us like love and attention.
They all feel "icky" to connect to. To relate to others in one of the hundreds of personalities is in the end, unfulfilling. What we ultimately yearn for is to connect to the real presence of others from the real presence of ourselves.
But there is a caveat here or we could call it a principle or a law. Authentic presence arises from knowing who you actually are. You cannot be yourself if you don't know who you are...so simple we miss it.
This true self is not your concepts or beliefs, your personal history, your hairdo, your job, your stature in society, your age, etc. It is not created by affirmations or verified by others. All that stuff changes. Whatever is impermanent is not the true you. The truth does not change.
The self is only experienced directly. It's a sudden waking up like walking into a darkened room and turning on the light and seeing everything that one second ago, was not visible. You don't know it and then you know it. Ancient and modern traditions have called this awakening, self-realization, satori, illumination, etc.
Once this awakening occurs then we can be authentically present and that presence will be the light inside that lights up your world and the world of others.
I must say that little boy taught me a lot, without saying one word.
So how about the next time you see a stranger,
a store clerk,
a bus driver,
a street person,
even your spouse or children...
take an extra moment and look them in the eye, connect and notice they are just as real as you and say to that individual silently in your mind: "I see you".
That one moment of intimacy can bring fulfillment to you and that person for the whole day.
in that one moment you might change someone's life like that little boy did for me 20 years ago?
I send him my gratitude and hope he is well, after all these years.
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