Welcome to The Two Faces of Enlightenment.
When I was seeking for clarity; when I was seeking for that which is always already here; when I was seeking for enlightenment, many teachers talked about Presence, many talked about what’s here-now, in terms of Presence, and many talked about Awareness. At some point, I got a little confused.
Are these two different things? Teachers spoke as if Presence and Awareness were the same exact thing and, in my experience, a distinction between these two aspects of Existence, or Life, was never very clearly addressed. But I found there is a definite difference, at least in the feeling state, between these two phases, or these two aspects, of enlightenment.
So, the purpose of this lesson is to explain some of the bullet points that I gave you in the first lesson. Lesson 1 was just an experiential introduction, allowing you to read through these bullet points—these potential definitions of the difference between the I-AM and the I-I. In this lesson, I will go through that list again, but this time, I will give some explanation.
Table of Contents
- 1 Differences between Presence and Awareness
- 1.1 In I-AM, Awareness is the I and Presence-Energy is the AM.
- 1.2 Presence-Consciousness is I-AM. Pure Awareness is simply I.
- 1.3 Presence is in front. Awareness is back, around, and throughout.
- 1.4 Presence is the defined. Awareness is undefined.
- 1.5 Presence is dense. Awareness is weightless.
- 1.6 Presence is Energy. Awareness is Space.
- 1.7 Presence is the substratum. Awareness is the intelligence that can use the substratum.
- 1.8 Presence is present. Awareness is aloof.
- 1.9 Presence is love. Awareness is free.
- 1.10 Presence can be imagined as a formless field. Awareness is entirely formless.
- 1.11 Presence is the manifest Greater Self. Awareness is the un-manifest Greater Self.
- 1.12 Presence is the love-light substance which lies at the basis of All-That-Is.
- 1.13 Awareness is the spacious universal container, whereas Presence is the undifferentiated universal love-energy content.
- 1.14 Presence is here, and everywhere where there is form or manifestation.
- 1.15 Awareness is nowhere and everywhere, but beyond the scope of form or manifestation.
- 1.16 Presence is time itself. Awareness is timeless.
- 1.17 Presence is the accumulation of all potential workforce available. Awareness is the manager of this workforce.
- 1.18 Presence is the visible contents of a movie. Awareness can be likened to the invisible director that made it all happen the way it did.
- 1.19 When Awareness meets Presence, Presence-Energy becomes Presence-Consciousness.
- 1.20 Presence hooks you into the world that your consciousness is presently creating. Awareness lets you off the hook.
- 1.21 Presence is manifest as physical, quasi-physical, and non-physical energy.
- 1.22 Presence is the devoted slave energy. Awareness is the loving and intelligent slaver.
- 1.23 Presence does not have its own will, whereas Awareness is pure free will.
- 1.24 Presence represents the tools. Awareness is the means by which the tools are used.
- 1.25 Presence can be found and located by being witnessed. Awareness is un-locatable and can only be found by being acknowledged as “being aware.”
- 1.26 Neither option is better than the other option.
- 1.27 Homework
- 1.28 Got a question, or just want to share? Discuss this lesson in the forums!
Differences between Presence and Awareness
In I-AM, Awareness is the I and Presence-Energy is the AM.
The AM part of I-AMdefines the Beingness aspect; the Presence aspect. The I defines the Awareness that is aware of the Presence aspect. So together, I-AM is Awareness wrapped around Presence-Energy. When Awareness wraps itself around Presence-Energy (the energy that is required in order for there to be experience), it generates the sense, or the feeling state, of the existential, ever-present I-AM.
Now, if you were to remove the sense of AM-ness, the focus on Presence-Energy would loosen up. What you would be left with is the I, or Awareness, aware of being aware—rather than Awareness aware of the presence of life or of the presence of energy.
Presence-Consciousness is I-AM. Pure Awareness is simply I.
This is another way of looking at what I just explained, above. Presence is felt as Presence-Beingness. Awareness is felt as Emptiness-Beingness. So, the difference here is an interesting term because the sense of Beingness usually is associated with the sense of I-AM, right? It is Presence-Energy that generates the sense of being. But it is not entirely true to say that Awareness itself has no sense of beingness at all, because it still exists. It’s still aware of itself and it has some sense of I-AM too, but to call that “I-AM” would be confusing. So, let’s call it “Emptiness-Beingness” instead of “Presence-Beingness.”
Emptiness-Beingness is a sense of beingness that’s not filled up with energy; it’s not filled up with the sense of I-am-here-now. There is presence; there is vividness of life; there is vividness of the energy that makes up all of Existence. When that is let go of, the I that remains still has a sense of its own I-AM, its own “I exist.” But it’s very empty; it is emptied out from the denser aspect of Enlightenment, the denser aspect of Existence, which is that sense of Presence-Energy, that sense of being aware of Presence-Energy. So now, it’s simply Awareness aware of itself as Awareness. There is still the I-AM, but it’s on a much subtler, less dense level. It feels more like an emptiness, or a vast is-ness, rather than an AM-ness.
Presence is in front. Awareness is back, around, and throughout.
This is just one way of expressing it. These location-orientated definitions are never accurate, because even in Presence there is no real “location.” But just to make it more experiential for you, you could say that Presence is “in front” of you, right? So, when you are aware of the AM, when I is aware of AM, it is as if Awareness is looking at an object in front of itself. In this case, the object is not a single object within Creation, but the very substratum of Creation itself. That’s the AM-ness; it’s the pure beingness—Presence-Energy. It can almost feel like it is in front of you. Awareness is over here—“I am the Awareness” that is then aware of the AM-ness of Presence-Energy.
Awareness, in a sense, is “behind” or “in back.” This sense can be created when you recognize the I, the Awareness. It can feel like it’s behind you, rather than in front of you. Again, these are just temporary definitions and distinctions to make it experientially clear; they are not definitions to hold on to because “location” is simply an illusion generated inside of Presence-Awareness.
We could also say Awareness is “around” Presence and “throughout” Presence. If you look at the Self-Realization Map, in the Essentials part of the Trinfinity Library, you will see that the big circle represents Presence-Energy, and it is surrounded by an “atmosphere” of Consciousness. The pure Awareness that is wrapped around the sphere of Presence-Energy is sort of like the atmosphere that is wrapped around planet Earth. The atmosphere is lighter, freer, and in a sense, more vibrant than planet Earth itself; it is emptier, less dense, and less solid. Similarly, Awareness surrounds Presence-Energy. This can be experienced as a sensation or as an analogy to reference that distinction.
Awareness can also be thought of as being “throughout” Presence-Energy, throughout the I-AM-ness—the I pervades the AM-ness. The way to tune into this is to realize that you can never have an experience. Experience always consists of Presence-Energy, which is the substance that makes it visible; the substance that makes it experiential. The substance itself is Presence-Energy, which generates the sense of I-AM, or AM-ness, but Awareness is always there as well. Meaning that, at any “location,” in any reality you choose to be conscious of, in any configuration of the Presence-Energy equation of Existence itself; in any particular configuration of energy that is possible—it doesn’t matter where it is, what time it’s set at, or what is going on—Awareness is right there. It’s confirmed to be right there. So, that is why we can say that Awareness exists “throughout” Presence-Energy.
Presence is the defined. Awareness is undefined.
Presence is defined, in the sense that it is itself an “object.” It is itself observable and noticeable; it is a “thing.” Energy is a thing, it’s a presence; so, in that sense, it’s defined.
On the other hand, Awareness is much less defined—if defined at all. You can’t find Awareness, so you can’t really define it. Awareness is that which is aware of your definition. The definition itself consists of defined Presence-Energy. Therefore, Presence is defined, Awareness is undefined.
Presence is dense. Awareness is weightless.
This refers to what Presence and Awareness feel like. Presence feels dense—not necessarily in a negative way, and not “dense” in the sense of a really stupid person who is “dense,” or thick-headed. By “dense,” I mean dense with energy, dense with Presence, dense with Life itself, dense with the vibrancy of Existence itself.
Presence Energy feels very free. It is very free; it is always already here. It is stable, defined, present, and very dense with Life. Because it is dense with Life, there is a certain sense of density to the I-AM, to Presence. I-AM feels dense, like the foundation of a house—like the cement that forms the foundation of a house.
Awareness feels more spacious; it’s free and weightless.
Presence is Energy. Awareness is Space.
This statement is another way to feel into the difference between Presence and Awareness. Presence is literally energy. Awareness is… well, we can’t say it’s “literally” space, because again, space is one of the illusions that Awareness generates within itself. But in terms of the feeling state, Awareness feels much more like space. When you recognize space, rather than the objects within space, or when you recognize the energy within the space, you start to feel the distinction between Presence and the I, the spacious I, that surrounds and pervades the Presence-Energy.
Presence is the substratum. Awareness is the intelligence that can use the substratum.
A little later on, we will get more deeply into this. We will discuss the different functions of Presence-Energy and Awareness, how their origin stories are different, and what their purposes are. For now, simply see Presence-Energy, or Presence, as the substratum of All-That-Is. As an analogy, it is the clay an artist uses to shape forms.
Awareness is the intelligence that can use the substratum. Awareness is what gives things intelligence. Awareness is what shapes Reality.
Presence is present. Awareness is aloof.
This is not a negative idea, being aloof. In the way I use it here, “aloof” means Awareness doesn’t need to focus on anything. It doesn’t have to be present. Presence cannot not be present, but Awareness can, in a sense, not be present, meaning it can not be present to Presence. It will always remain present as itself, on its own timeless scale, on its own timeless level, but it doesn’t have to be present.
So, Presence is bound to be present—to feel present—whereas, Awareness can feel more aloof, more oblivious to the Presence-Energy of Creation. Awareness can be in its own free spacious state with no knowledge or awareness of Presence, of a location, or of being-here-now. In that sense, it has the privilege of being able to remain aloof—if it wants to.
Presence is love. Awareness is free.
So, the first distortion, the first expression from absolute infinite Unity, the Absolute One, the Infinite One, was Freedom—free will, free agency, Free Awareness. Freedom was the ability, the pure intelligence that was then the workable form, the actionable form of Infinity—that is Awareness, that is Freedom, that is free will, that is free choice, that is the freedom to move and to shape and to use infinite intelligence.
Then followed Love, or Presence. Presence-Energy, or that substratum energy for All-That-Is, literally is love because it forms All That Is. Innate to Presence-Energy, there will always be love, what love truly is, not just the feeling of love, but the fact of love, the reality of love—which is that it is always, already here.
It is everywhere, and everything consists of that same one substance that is love. That inseparability, that union of energy, that dependency on Presence… is Love.
Presence can be imagined as a formless field. Awareness is entirely formless.
Presence-Energy can be described as a field of unlimited potential, of undifferentiated Presence-Energy-Love. But Awareness is even more formless. It’s even subtler than what can be imagined as a field of Presence. It’s so subtle that it doesn’t have a form of its own. It is entirely formless.
Presence is the manifest Greater Self. Awareness is the un-manifest Greater Self.
Just wordplay again, but it is a way to make a distinction. So, we could say that Presence-Energy is the manifest aspect, or phase, of your Greater Self—the Greater Self we all seek—whereas Awareness is the un-manifest Greater Self.
Presence is the love-light substance which lies at the basis of All-That-Is.
I have explored this in depth in the first course, Enlightenment I. Awareness is what gives it shape, consciousness, purpose, and intelligence.
By now, you know that Presence is the love-light substance which lies at the basis of All-That-Is, of all forms that can ever potentially be. And Awareness is what gives it shape, consciousness, purpose, and intelligence. It is that free agency principle that has the ability to move, to shape things, to project itself in different ways, to use the clay, to use the substance of All-That-Is to form different intelligent patterns of energy. These patterns then generate everything-that-is in the way that it is, such as our everyday, seemingly intelligent, solid existence. That is all caused by Awareness blending its intelligence, its free will, and its ability to move and to shape, and applying that to Presence-Energy, to the substratum, to love-light.
Awareness is the spacious universal container, whereas Presence is the undifferentiated universal love-energy content.
This is yet another way to feel into the distinction: the contents and the container. Not a container that is itself physical; not a container that itself has form—but a formless container. Awareness is the formless container for the contents formed by Presence-Energy.
Presence is here, and everywhere where there is form or manifestation.
Presence is here and “everywhere where there is form or manifestation.” Where there is the presence of form there is Presence—obviously.
Awareness is nowhere and everywhere, but beyond the scope of form or manifestation.
It’s a subtle distinction, but this is a slightly different way of describing where Awareness is. It is nowhere and everywhere, and yet it is beyond the scope of Presence; it is beyond limitation, in a sense, beyond the limitations of form or manifestation.
Presence is time itself. Awareness is timeless.
Now, I realize this one may be a little bit confusing at this point, but we’ll get into it more in later courses, and to some extent, in this course.
Presence is time itself. But isn’t Presence timeless? In a sense, yes. But it is timeless in comparison to how we think of time; that is, it is not linear. However, Presence-Energy is itself Time. And Time itself is Presence-Energy. To be present means to be time—to be consciously time, to be Presence.
Presence therefore, is time. It is the essence of all of time. So, all different times are simply different manifestations of Presence, of Time.
Awareness is timeless. It is absolutely timeless—meaning that it is beyond the scope of Presence. It is beyond the contents of the forms that it contains—being the formless container itself. So Awareness itself is beyond the scope of time. Presence is time. Awareness is free from time.
Presence is the accumulation of all potential workforce available. Awareness is the manager of this workforce.
Again, it is the intelligence of Awareness that is able to utilize the workforce, the energy, the potency, the potential that is love-light energy—that is Presence.
Presence is the visible contents of a movie. Awareness can be likened to the invisible director that made it all happen the way it did.
When you are watching a movie, you see all the contents. You can perceive and observe the defined aspects of the movie—the actors, the storyline, the words that are being spoken, the scenery, and so on. But you can’t see the director. Yet, it is the director who used his or her intelligence to shape the contents of the movie, so that you can then have the movie experience. Similarly, what you perceive consists of Presence; but you, the perceiver—and also the creator—of those shapes and contents, can be likened to Awareness.
When Awareness meets Presence, Presence-Energy becomes Presence-Consciousness.
You are familiar with this by now—at least to some extent. When Awareness meets or merges or becomes aware of the availability, the potential of love-light—which is Presence-Energy itself, the substratum of all that is—then Presence-Energy becomes intelligently infused with Awareness. But since there is a subject-object relationship at this point (because there is Awareness and there is Beingness or Presence), we call it Consciousness. But it is the same thing. Consciousness is Awareness, simply in a distorted, or merged, or blended, or differentiated form, where there is some kind of subject-object relationship.
Presence hooks you into the world that your consciousness is presently creating. Awareness lets you off the hook.
This means that when you focus on Presence, it literally hooks you and sucks you into the here-and-now, with all the form that brings along with it. But when you start recognizing Awareness, the I in the I-AM equation, it lets you off the hook. Again, that’s the aloofness principle—where Awareness does not need to be focused on Presence and the here-and-now in order for it to be spontaneously, naturally, effortlessly empty. In an empty way, it is vastly here and now—just as its own restful, spacious self, without the need to focus down on any type of reality.
So, in that sense, the focus on Awareness lets you off the hook, whereas the focus on Presence, liberating as it is, has a little bit of the sense of I-AM-ness—the Presence, the density of it. Not that this is a bad thing at all; in fact, it’s very helpful, very vivid. And, ideally, you have both of these realizations. So, don’t judge Presence now for being dense.
Presence is manifest as physical, quasi-physical, and non-physical energy.
In comparison to Awareness, Presence seems dense, and Awareness seems completely non-physical—or even unmanifest. Presence-Energy can manifest itself as physicality, it can manifest itself as quasi-physicality, and it can manifest itself as completely non-physical energy. These are just different, subtler states of energy like ice, water, and steam. Steam could be equated to non-physicality, water could be equated to quasi- or semi-physicality, and the ice state of Presence-Energy could be defined as physical energy. This is just an analogy. But in comparison to even the steam-like, non-physical energy of creation, Awareness seems even more “non-physical” and even more unmanifest.
Presence is the devoted slave energy. Awareness is the loving and intelligent slaver.
Funny choice of words perhaps, but Presence-Energy is very much like a slave. If we remove the negative connotation that word has been imbued with, slave simply means “at your disposal.” It means no will of its own. So Presence-Energy is slave energy—meaning that it’s designed to be “slaved” by intelligence, by freedom, by free-will, by Consciousness, by Awareness. So Awareness is the loving and intelligent “slaver” of creation.
Presence does not have its own will, whereas Awareness is pure free will.
If Presence is the One Infinite Creator’s body, Awareness is the One Infinite Creator’s mind. So imagine Infinity, imagine unity, imagine the Infinite One. Then imagine it starts creating a mind—so that that mind, that intelligence, that freedom to move and to navigate and to utilize intelligence, then starts to generate content, a love-light field of energy.
That love-light field of energy is like the more physicalized version; it’s the vehicle, the expression of the experience. It can be likened to the body; whereas Awareness can be likened to being the One Infinite Creator’s mind or intelligence.
Presence represents the tools. Awareness is the means by which the tools are used.
This is another subtle way to explain this difference. Presence can be likened to the tools: hammer, screwdriver, and so on, but the using of them is less defined. The means by which Presence is used—in this case, our body, and hands, and intelligence—cannot be pinpointed as much as the tools can. It is the working force; it is the intelligence that makes the tools move, that uses the tools.
Presence is the wood, hammer, and nails. Awareness is the carpenter who can come in, use the tools to create something, and then leave the tools and its creation alone (the aloofness idea) and exist independently of the tools and their state or location. It can exist as its own I-I awareness. It is I realizing I. And it does not have to remain present to the presence of its creation or the tools with which it created it—which are all created out of Presence-Energy. So again, it is more undefined. Awareness is less defined than Presence-Energy. It is less located, less dense; it is more un-findable.
Presence can be found and located by being witnessed. Awareness is un-locatable and can only be found by being acknowledged as “being aware.”
You can locate Presence; this is similar to the idea of it being “in front of you,” in a sense. You can’t really see what’s behind you; you can only see what’s in front of you. You can’t really see the seer or the seeing, but you can see what you are seeing. Presence is like that. You can locate it, you can find it, it’s right here, it’s Presence. You can notice it, you can define it—in a sense, you can lock it in and say “this is what it is.”
Awareness is subtler, once again. In comparison, it is completely unmanifest, and so it can only be found through subtler means. You need a little bit more of an intelligent awareness to recognize intelligent awareness. You need to recognize the subtlety of the fact that observation is going on right now. You need to notice that there is an awareness of this moment rather than trying to find the awareness of this moment. So it is simply by acknowledging that you are being aware, that you become aware of awareness. But you can’t find it or locate it, because you can’t really witness it as you would witness the energy of Presence.
Neither option is better than the other option.
One face of enlightenment doesn’t necessarily mean more than the other face. They are just different aspects and both ought to be appreciated; in my experience it’s very valuable to appreciate both of them equally. Because it is very liberating to be really present with Presence-Energy—to utilize your Free Awareness to be really, really present with Presence-Energy, with this moment, with the here and the now. It is very potent.
It is also very helpful for the Empowerment teachings—for becoming a more empowered being. It is very crucial, so don’t dismiss Presence per se.
But for the purpose of this course, do place the emphasis a little bit more on the not-any-better-but-simply-subtler face of enlightenment—or aspect of enlightenment—which is that of Emptiness-Being, that of Free Awareness, that of free agency, that of the Awareness principle itself.
And discover that you can, in a sense, remain as the I and you don’t need to, you don’t have to focus on Presence anymore. That’s a very liberating thing—that you don’t have to be concerned with Presence-Energy all the time.
For homework, I want you to simply notice the difference—by going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Do this for about 5 to 10 minutes in a single sitting. And you can bring this with you into everyday life experiences.
What you do is become really present to Presence-Energy. You start to notice the presence in things and the presence of this moment and the here-and-now focus. And you will find that this focuses Awareness—almost narrows Awareness down—into Presence, into the substratum of Existence. It is still expansive—especially compared to I-Am-This, or I-am-this-body, or I-am-the-mind. So it’s an expansion focus but it’s still a focus. It’s the focus on Presence.
Now simply relax out of even that. Relax and rest as Awareness itself. You start noticing, acknowledging that “Yes, there is this Presence, but I am aware of the Presence.” The I is aware of the AM. So together, it is the I-AM, and it creates the feeling I-AM. But…you can notice that I is aware of AM. I is aware of AM, I is aware of AM…
And so, simply practice this. Go into the Presence and then notice that you-are / I-AM aware of Presence.
Notice Presence and notice your awareness of the Presence. Go back and forth like this for five consecutive minutes in one sitting, and then do this a few times a day as a little mini-meditation throughout your everyday life experiences. This is to really get yourself grounded in the sense of Presence and then to notice the spaciousness that surrounds the Presence; the Awareness that is aware of the Presence. And just keep going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, as often as you’d like.
Again, you can use the list in the first lesson of this course to sharpen or fine-tune those differences in your own insight, in your own recognition. And when you start noticing some of these differences that I’ve explained and described, and when you feel comfortable with this distinction, with this difference, then you can begin to see that you can either be present to Presence, or you can sort of be more aloof. In a sense, I would almost say “freer.” And you begin to see that you can simply rest as Awareness itself. When you start noticing this and this becomes experiential, proceed to the next lesson.