As in all things, there is an insubstantial as well as a substantial aspect to engaging persons and things. We engage when we consciously enter into relationship. We can co-exist unawares with others, and do so all the time, but that’s not engagement. Engagement requires conscious choice.
Before we can engage a person or thing freely and consciously, an important choice must be made. It is the decision to be Present, to consciously assume a position in space and time.
That means to bring your attention to the moment you are actually in, not on the story of some other time, past or future. It is not enough to be here in body only, our attention elsewhere. Nor is it enough to just be present as ‘observer’ or ‘witness’, detached from self and other.
We must encounter with our whole being. It means embracing What Is, and What Is includes the being that is me. And I can only engage to the degree that I am willing to Be.
We take this for granted, but true presence is actually pretty rare. Most of our attention focuses on making sense of what we think is happening, has happened, and might happen. Paradoxically, all our efforts to understand what’s going on take us out of NOW, even if for a moment.
I can’t ‘think about’ something or someone unless I step back back for a moment and ‘objectify’ them. They must be abstracted, flattened out, and rendered into symbols that can be identified, organized, counted, and compared. Of course, this is that most indispensable of human qualities, our ability to tell a story. We don’t survive very long (or very happily) if we are unable to string our random perceptions into a meaningful narrative.
There is an inside and an outside to everything, including our ‘self’. The outside of the self is how it appears, my experience of ‘me’. My ego. To construct my story of me I need some distance. The inside of the self has no objective aspects, no qualities, no story. Presence includes both inner and outer aspects. We must know who and what we are to play any sort of game, even if it the game of being alive.
Yet our most cherished moments are those seen from the inside, like when we are “in the flow”. It is then that our story disappears for the moment and there is only NOW.
In Step Three of The Edge we heighten our energetic coherence by pointing and reaching with our index fingers. We choose to cohere as form, and more coherence means more Wholeness. Meeting with our whole being includes the form we take. This is the substantial aspect of Presence.
In Step Four we locate ourselves in space and time absolutely–“Here I Am”–not relatively, as objects among other objects. The Insubstantial side of Presence. Insubstantial and Substantial arise mutually, as do inside and outside. Like particles and waves in quantum physics, the aspect that appears is the one you ask for.