Essence and Presence –
What is presence, and how does it relate to essence? How do the Fourth Way and other traditions use these terms?
From the Sufi Tradition – Zikar
In Sufism, the word zikar means “remembrance of the Presence of God while losing oneself in a sacred experience.” Truly, it is the remembrance of a Divine Presence which no expression could ever describe. It becomes a reality to the extent that one is prepared to forget the self.
- Hidayat Khan, Sufi Teachings
In American interpretations of Sufism, presence is the state of being consciously aware.
- Helminski, Living Presence
From the Christian Tradition
To have humility is to experience reality, not in relation to ourselves, but in its sacred independence. It is to see, judge, and act from the point of rest in ourselves. Then, how much disappears, and all that remains falls into place. In the point of rest at the centre of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud, a revelation, each man a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.
- Dag Hammarskjold, Waymarkings
From the Fourth Way Tradition
Essence is I—it is our heredity, type, character, nature.
Personality is an accidental thing—everything external. It is like the clothes you wear, your artificial mask, the result of your upbringing, of the influence of your surroundings, opinions which change daily.
One must learn to discriminate between essence and personality, and to separate them. Once you have learned to do this you will see what to change and how.
- Gurdjieff, Views from the Real World
If personality… ceases to press on essence, if personality becomes more transparent, impressions and external influences will penetrate through it and reach essence, and then essence will begin to grow. All permanent or more permanent qualities must depend on essence. Sleep, awakening, consciousness–all this does not refer to personality, it refers to essence.
- P.D. Ouspensky
The term presence underlies the various Fourth Way concepts of awareness, self-remembering, and consciousness. Divine Presence is a characteristic of the third or fourth state of consciousness. And it comes when the lower centers are clear of imagination, identification and negative emotions. This allows higher centers to function correctly.
While talents in essence should be developed, what is more important is finding the state of essence, which can then connect directly with higher centers.
There are several advantages to recognizing a higher state while it is occurring: the likelihood of sustaining it increases, you can better use what you see in a higher state, and you are more likely to find your way there again.
- Robert Burton, Awakening