Personal Authenticity and Presence

We commonly understand personal authenticity to mean being oneself. While this is so, we can understand what it means to be one’s Self in different ways. The practice of presence points to what may be a deeper experience of authenticity.

The human condition is the context which frames an understanding of the import of presence. In brief, you and I are asleep – metaphorically – to our deeper nature from which authenticity originates.

Everyday a myriad of stimuli drown our awareness: innumerable thoughts, feelings, sensations, outer events and interactions. One thought, feeling, or sensation leads by association to another and another and another ad infinitum keeping the hamster wheel of inner imagination and self-talk turning ceaselessly.

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The Paradox of Spiritual Seeking

In their search for enlightenment, some persons cross deserts or and climb mountains at great peril to themselves. Others seek realization at the feet of their beloved masters listening expectantly to every word. Still some attend weekend seminars or study sacred texts late into the night.

While there are a great many seekers, there appear to be few finders. Perhaps this confirms that, by definition, a seeker can never be a finder.

If I am seeking, I am seeking some thing – an object which is other than me. I am the seeker; the object is the sought. There is the duality of I – and that which I seek.

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Presence, Neurons, and the Internet

Presence, neurons, and the internet: these concepts are intimately related in an unsuspecting and unfavorable way which might concern you, if in your pursuit of authenticity, you practice presence.

Contemplative traditions consider the practice of presence the sine qua non (“without which nothing”) of spiritual unfolding. The Tibetan Dzogchen master, Namkhai Norbu, for example, considers presence to be “the ultimate” practice.

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Authenticity and a Proper Relationship to the Mind

We take for granted when we go to sleep at night, that we will awaken in the morning, the sun will have risen, and we will be the same persons we were before sleeping. Yet, I hope not.

Nevertheless when I first become conscious in the morning, eyes closed, mind empty, a trickle of thought starts. Perhaps I remember something I must do this day. Or maybe I recall the remnants of an unfinished conversation with my wife of the night before. Gradually this and that thought turn into a torrent which reconstitutes my ego, and situates me in my Michael-Nagel-ness. Ah yes, again I am me.

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Who am I?

The contemplative practice of asking, “Who am I?” can challenge our understanding of who we think we are, and possibly lead to a deeper experience of our nature. Just who do you think you are?

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