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Some Thoughts on Presence – Donna Quesada

by Donna Quesada: I confess that I have had the thought that presence is boring… There must be more, I mused.

senior dog in the stroller-awaken At their core, the timeless spiritual teachings boil down to this simple teaching: Be Here Now. It’s like the key to the universe. Surely, there must be something higher, more exalted, more interesting? But I saw that thats a bit like wishing for something better than water. Sure, we can entertain ourselves with fancy drinks, but at their core… it is water. And water is the only part of it our organs need.

By searching for bells and whistles, we find ourselves grasping, always in a state of discontent. Always looking for distraction, only to find, at some point… when we come into presence… that weve fallen back into the land of suffering, what Buddha called dukhka. It is the kind of suffering that is subtle but all pervasive. The kind of suffering that makes us feel like we’re never there… always just one more IF ONLY, standing in the way of our happiness. I always describe it to my students as a kind of wiggliness.

I walk down the street with my dogs as I flesh out this thought, and I watch as a maid rings the buzzer to enter a building. She sets the yellow mopping bucket down as she waits for the door to open. She will soon enter a new world… another life… somebody elses life. She will know more about the inhabitants of this life and their world than they will know of her and her world. She will pass the day inside, away from the outside world, and away from herworld. And then, at the end of the day, she will return to her own.

Maybe we need that, to some extent. Maybe we all need a break from our own world, whether we’re happy in our world or not. We want to leave the here and now… its at least fun to fantasize about some other reality… Anything but this, which seems boring only because of its familiarity. Hence the proverb, the grass is always greener

Since the pandemic, many of us have learned that we dont have to leave our world and go someplace else. We can stay right where we are. We can work from home. But maybe we need a time out, so that we come back home refreshed… with new eyes to see the beauty in the ordinary.

Were not so good at staying right where we are… We want more. We are naturally wiggly.

But as I push my senior dog in the stroller… I realize that this is beautiful. This is as good as it gets! The maid enters the building and I continue on. Its beautiful. It’s all beautiful. If we could only remember to appreciate the brilliance of the most ordinary moment, we wouldn’t be so wiggly. And we’d be happy exactly where we are.


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