The exchanges of Saturday 8 March 1985 were remarkable. They could all be published. I suppose it goes to show that “like seeks like”, and that “deep calls to deep”, or in Blessed J.H. Newman’s words, “Heart speaks to heart”. Yet, I shall omit the balance of the lunch questions to come to this one from the supper. It made quite an impression on me, because it spoke to just this question of what it is to be awake. In the course of Mr Adie’s reply, he frequently paused to allow his questions their due weight. I indicate that by the use of short paragraphs.
The observation in question came from a lady who had been in a good state. Indeed, she felt that she was remembering herself, and was collected. Then she came to in the realisation that she was pouring detergent into the rinsing water. This gave her a shock. She could still not understand how it had happened.
“There are many ways that one could comment upon that,” said Mr Adie. “You felt that you had been present, but what am I present to? Am I present to myself, or am I only present to the mixing bowl, the washing up sink? Am I identified?
“If I am identified with my thought, of course I can’t be present. But something in me can be very pleased with myself.”
“That’s really what happened,” she agreed, “I had been pleased with myself.”
“There can be degrees of sleep,” Mr Adie added. “I can be fast asleep, or I can be fast asleep in part of me. There are many different alternatives. Dreams can be going on which have no or no apparent connection with what I am occupied with. They can be quite fantastic, or I can have a thought and be identified with that.
“There are many possibilities for the energy of my attention to be taken here or there. My energy is flowing. In whichever direction I am identified, in that direction my energy is flowing. You were observing yourself to a certain extent. And that you thought of as “being present”. It does not seem to have been very much more than that: one centre observing another. Only you can tell, however.
“See, what is my presence? I can’t very well describe it, but it’s, using another word, it is self-awareness. A certain sort of self is associated in me with an idea: I. Myself. Is there any feeling attached to that? Perhaps there is, a little. The association attaches a different word, which I take as my presence, or may do. I need to know that. I mustn’t on any account cheat with the word “presence”. A small part of me, perhaps, may be relatively present. I can’t then claim “my presence”, see?
“I want to know how to think about it, in order to be able to observe correctly.
“Really, I want attention in not just one but in all three centres. And the more stable the better. In one second I can have a moment of presence, and in the next second it’s gone.
“The fleetingness of presence is a question. Is it a sort of cloud that inhabits me?
“No, not quite. It is more definite than that.
“Is it a feeling? Well, feeling certainly comes into it, doesn’t it? So, it’s a feeling of what?
“Alright, it’s a feeling. And somehow, when I speak like that, to a certain extent, it is intelligible, although the words are different for everybody.
“But if I am hooked, and know that, I can see that when it happens; that I can doesn’t mean that I do, but it can happen that I see it. I may put something too hot into the glass, and it burns me. I certainly see that because of the shock of the burn. Mm? It can call me. Many things can call me.
“I need to be balanced, really. You heard what was read tonight: the three parts of man, the body, the feeling, and the intellect of man have to be there together before he can really claim “I”.
“And then we really need to know what our experience amounts to. What is its currency: is it a big thing, or is it a small thing? How much truth is there in it?
“So, what you say is very interesting, but I need to be more open to it at the moment.
“Obviously, your attention was attracted by something when you put the detergent in the wrong place. But now. Attention in all three centres. Together.”
Joseph Azize, 27 November 2016