What Is Loving Presence?

Posted by Chris Dierkes in Emotions, Mystics

The tagline of this website is An Invitation to a Life of Loving Presence. What do I mean by Loving Presence? I’ll start first with a brief description of how I understand presence and from there explore why I feel adding Loving is so crucial to living a contemporary life imbued with spirit.

What Is Presence?

Presence is the word I use to describe the state of awakening at the level of mind. It goes by many different names in different traditions. The names are pointers. What they’re pointing to is when the mind uncoils and relaxes from its tight grip on life and the person feels a deep dropping, a profound release. They begin to experience a state of deep and utter peacefulness. Time and space begin to melt away, fading into oblivion.

I invite us all to take a few deep breaths and just scan and see if we can find this place within us that is already peaceful, already at ease.

Like sinking down to the bottom of the ocean floor…the lights above disappear, the sounds and noise of the day recedes, down to the bottom of the ocean where everything comes to rest.

Presence is that space–a space of freedom and peacefulness.

The word presence points to the presence of Truth in this state. This Presence is Holy Presence, a realization of all being well, at ease, and rest. In this state, everything and everyone, in fact the entire process of Life itself, is felt to be conscious.

There’s a sense of liberation from our conventional experience of time and space. Everything feels whole.

Why Loving Presence?

Now many (maybe most?) spiritual teachings of enlightenment stop here. The path becomes one of deeper and deeper immersion in this state of presence. There’s truth in this perspective as there’s never an endpoint to Presence. It is infinite in nature.

But to be a little crass for a moment, there’s more to the show. There’s another track, another dimension of awakening and that’s why I talk about Loving Presence. Adding the word loving to presence is meant to convey this second dimension.

While it might seem redundant to add the word loving to presence, when talking in the context of spiritual awakening, my experience is this is DEFINITELY not the case.

The state of presence can be a bit of a safe place. It can be seductive because it is so free of pain, worry, and struggle. It’s totally natural to simply stay there forever in state of natural perfection.

But our world is deeply struggling. We can’t stay “there” forever, however much parts of me emotionally share that view.

There is a still deeper movement–a movement of the heart.

The awakening of the heart retains the goodness of the mind’s awakening. There’s still the peace, the freedom, and the ease. But there’s something added that presence alone does not convey–a warmth. It’s a feeling of liquid fire.

In this fire of the heart, one is not only in a state of peace and rest but also of profound devotion to life. The state of presence alone is always a little well kinda spiritual. I mean it’s a bit special feeling, a little too awakened.

The state of the awakened heart doesn’t feel so spiritual (in the normal sense of the word). It feels radically sane and normal–undergirded with a deep pulsation of fiery love. This is what I’m trying to get by adding the qualifier loving to presence.

A Brief Glimmer of the Heart

Here’s a process I’ve found helpful to connect to loving presence. The heart is a realm of grace. It can’t be earned. So it’s not that doing this process gains me an experience of the heart. It’s not a cause and effect thing, but it does help to put me in a space where I’m more open to the possibility of the grace. Another way of saying that is that the process helps release some of the restrictions that may get in the way of grace.

I sit, take a few breaths to relax. And then I go about feeling and scanning–both within myself and in my perception of my environment. It’s kind of hard to describe but I feel and sense that there is a Love already present. In theological language I would say God is already praying for us and that prayer is Love. My role is to join in that already ongoing and already existing prayer.

Love is meditating us. Love is praying us into being.

It’s a feeling of pervading warmth. Love begins to mold us, shape us, and form us.

I then sit in that space and listen. What is Love trying to tell me?

The answer often comes in strange ways….a slight bodily contraction or opening, a dreamy image may come to mind, or I may hear a word or phrase that just pops into my head. I’m not sure from whence any of these come but I’m learning to trust them and my ability to be taught by them and understand their messages. I always check them and I check my interpretations of these pieces of information against this space of Love.

More and more however there’s just somehow a knowing, a feeling of what is right without a lot of content.

Sometimes the response is to experience a sadness or even a grief but one that’s not personal to me (or at least not exclusive to me). It feels more like the sadness or the grief of God. It’s an unconditional and totally open sadness or grief. Conversely sometimes it’s a feeling of unbounded joy or complete gratitude for no particular reason, just because. And other times it’s simply sitting in a space of pure love. It is that pure love that will become our teacher and guide.

06 Oct 2013 4 comments
4 comments
runningjilly
runningjilly

That's an absolutely beautiful description. Very helpful. thank you

bruce sanguin
bruce sanguin

Thanks Chris, I agree with your important distinction between presence and loving presence. Thanks for the practice. Sometimes I wonder if mainstream Christians try to be loving without having a clue about presence, and new agey types are all about presence, just not sure about the love, I mean actual love that is deeper than the Kitsilano touchy, dance culture, that costs something. 

cdierkes
cdierkes moderator

@bruce sanguin

 Hi Bruce, 

Thanks for the comment. That's a really excellent distinction. Love is costly. Your comment makes me think I should write a piece about New Age cheap grace (a kind of updated Bonhoeffer).