The challenge of Presence is a big part of Evolved. Presence both in the spatial and temporal sense. Mahayana Buddhism talks about Zen through meditation, a way of seeking emptiness for enlightenment. Judaism describes God in one form as Present. There is something special about the present, being present. In our world we tend to live in the past, highlighted by recent neurological studies focused on the time lag between subconscious and conscious thought.
The universe in Evolved is split into two (what we think of as reality and something else) through the interaction of a ten dimensional brane with a field of resistance. The mind of the protagonist, the Evolved, strives to make two back into one. While writing Evolved I danced around the concept of presence through many re-writes, approaching it from a cosmological, quantum, philosophical, neurological and then psychological angle. When I finally felt like I had wrestled the concept into something that made sense, I read Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” and Richard Rohr’s “Immortal Diamond.” They approached this concept from a religious and spiritual perspective. Their message came together with what I had written like a thunder clap in my head. Richard Rohr discusses Presence from the Christian faith:
In some ways, presence is the “one thing necessary” (Luke 10:42), and perhaps the hardest thing of all. Just try to keep your heart open, your mind without division or resistance, and your body not somewhere else. Such simple presence is the practical, daily task of all mature religion and all spiritual disciplines. Once you are “present and accounted for,” you grow from everything, even the problematic and difficult things. If your presence is wrong, you will not recognize the Real Presence even in the Eucharist. The Presence will be there–it always is–but you won’t be. I love to say that it has been much easier for Jesus to teach bread and wine what it is than to teach humans, who always resist their deepest and simplest identity.
– Richard Rohr