Degrees of Presence


Question: Is it possible to think and be present?
Leonard’s Answer: It is important to know that there are levels of Presence. It is as if Presence exists on a vertical scale or axis. As you deepen into Presence, you cross a point on the vertical axis where time disappears. Now you are in the Eternal realm. There is no time. Life does not exist outside of the moment, and you do not exist outside of the moment. You are completely absorbed into the Oneness. You are completely absorbed into the moment of Now. All sense of separation has dissolved. It is a highly exalted state.

At this level of Presence, thinking is impossible. At this level, there is no one here as an individualized Being to think. Any thought would take you out of the moment. Of course, revelations can arise out of the silence, but this is radically different from thinking. A sense of knowing arises out of the silence, but this is radically different from understanding that occurs within the mind. To experience this level, even for a few moments will transform every aspect of your life, including your sense of yourself.

But you don’t have to be at this deep level of timeless Presence all the time. As you ascend on the vertical axis of Presence, time becomes once again available. You can use your mind to think, and you can participate in the world of time, but you no longer get lost there. It is more than enough if you are fundamentally present. This means that you are more grounded in Presence than you are lost in the mind. Now you can think, without becoming reabsorbed into the mind. You think consciously, and when you are done thinking, you naturally return to Presence. You are no longer a victim of those endless thoughts that keep dragging you to somewhere in your past or somewhere in your future.

Of course, as a present and conscious being, you are free to think, remember, imagine and enjoy the world of time in any way that you like. The beautiful thing, however, is that you can move up and down the scale of Presence at will. One moment you might be choosing to consciously think. The next moment, you are at the deepest levels of eternal Presence and silence. You are no longer imprisoned within the mind. You can move freely between the world of the mind and the eternal world of Now. Your memories, beliefs, ideas and opinions still exist within the mind, but you are no longer identified with any of it. You know that only this moment is the truth, and you are relaxed in that simple truth.

You can also speak from Presence. When you speak from Presence, there is no agenda that originates from within the mind. You are not speaking from within the mind. You are speaking and expressing from the source, which is at the center of your Being. You are present as you speak. You can also create music or art from Presence. Even Einstein’s most brilliant inspirations arose from the source and not from his mind. In these creative and inspired moments, the mind is simply a clear instrument of expression.

Submit questions to author and teacher Leonard Jacobson for guidance on the path of presence by email to [email protected], or mail your questions to: The Edge, Ask Leonard, P.O. Box 25543, Woodbury, MN 55125. Include your name and mailing address. If your letter is selected for publication, you will receive a copy of the author’s latest book, Journey to Now.

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Leonard Jacobson
Leonard Jacobson is an author, teacher and mystic who is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. He has been sharing his Way of Awakening for over 35 years. He lives in Wayzata and offers regular meetings there. Find more of Leonard's work at


  1. I would have to disagree. To be really present…thought is not possible and actually thought ceases. Thought itself is never about right now. Thought always pertains to a moment ago or to come (at its closest to the present)…or longer ago or to come…thought is never about right now. The more thought there is about the past and future, the more we are distracted from what is right now. Now, nothing says you have to always be entirely present. If you have to plan something, the focus will be on the planning…not really on what is going on right now. This is fine, but when planning is done…it is done and awareness can return to what is at the moment. The truth is that we think way too much…and most of our thoughts are not needed at all. I am surprised at how “silent” my mind remains. Surprised to realize how little thought is needed in everyday life. As Leonard said, revelations (and I would include wisdom and understanding) arises out of silence…and so it is not like you are dumb if you are not thinking. We act from those revelations/wisdom/understanding…and so things still happen and get done without thought….spontaneously.

  2. The greatest addiction afflicting humanity is the addiction of thinking. Most of us live with never ending thought that keeps us out of the present moment. We are not consciously choosing to think. Thinking is simply happening, and this kind of endless thought keeps us imprisoned in illusion and separation. When we are fully present, there is no thought, simply because thought is always of the past or future. In order to still the mind and bring an end to those endless thoughts, just bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it or smell it, then you can be present with it. The moment you are truly and fully present, thoughts will stop. You will emerge out of the past and future world of the mind into the world of Now. You are an awakened Being, at least for those moments that you are fully present. But you don’t have to be fully present all the time. It is enough that you are fundamentally present. This means that you can think consciously when you choose, but you spontaneously return to Presence when you are done thinking. You can plan for the future, but you are not losing yourself in those plans. You are fundamentally present. You know that your thoughts take you out of Presence and so you do not venture so far into thought, opinion or belief that you become once again lost in the mind. That still and silent Presence at the center of your Being is ever present, and at will you can relax into those deeper levels of silence, where there is no thought. There is no past. There is no future. There is only Now.

  3. Hi Leonard,

    Thank you for the clarification. Yes, you can think consciously when you choose (for example planning), but you spontaneously return to Presence when you are done thinking. The default would be stillness/silence/Presence, and the exception (so to speak) would be thoughts.


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