By Presence, Eckhart Tolle means being free and independent of psychological time (past and future), and it is achieved by focussing our attention fully and completely on the present time, the events of the present. This is inevitable for everyone, as this is the only way of recognizing that we are more than our personal life history. A gate opens up for us to see the world free of forms and shapes beyond the world of forms and shapes.
Ramana Maharshi asserts that the presence thus achieved is the first step towards revealing the real PRESENCE that he terms as Self.
In Tolle’s interpretation presence is the Ego itself, Consciousness of the body, which has been cleared of most of the identifications. This is, however, only a pseudo-presence, as it is subject to change. It disappears in the state of deep sleep, when there is no presence. It emerges when one is awake and vanishes when one is asleep.
That pseudo-presence is our subjectivity (I am), which is oriented on some object appearing in the present time (e. g. internal body, respiration). This pseudo-presence is the key to PRESENCE. Maharshi believes that it is only possible to reach PRESENCE through a research of ourselves.
A research of ourselves means that we must divert our attention from the object to our subjectivity and find the source from which it emerges and where it disappears.
The source is the PRESENCE itself, the Absolute Consciousness. Seeing that means you recognize: there is only one Subjectivity. One wakes up in Unity and realizes: I AM THAT. I AM EVERYTHING!
Experiencing PRESENCE is not a static thing, but it is an ever evolving process. The presence, emerging in the present moment as described by Eckhart Tolle, is just the first step in the process. During the process, there is a critical moment when the Ego tends to interfere by suggesting that the point concerned is the terminal, the goal has been reached. I am here, I am present, I have elevated myself above the forms and shapes. That presence is, however, only a gate we must go through in order to reach real PRESENCE.
If we recognize this as our real state, it no longer matters whether our PRESENCE is aware of the outside world or turns inward. This conceptual approach only appears unclear if we try to understand it from our current state of Consciousness. In order to fully comprehend this, we first need to wake up in the PRESENCE.
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