Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 24, 2008

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Unification

(Part 9 of 9 in the Inner Work Series: The Stages of Prayer)

Ultimately, all true spiritual paths lead to the One God. This has little to do with what we think, believe, or imagine. The Reality is the same in Its essence for all who come to It, however they may reach It, whatever their particular creed, religion, or way. But in order to reach It, we must cross the chasm of separateness, into the realm of perfection, perfection of surrender and submission, of true and loving emptiness.

In this the deepest of prayers, we let go of all our self-oriented cares and concerns, our posturing and opinions, our fears and desires. We let go of attending to sense perceptions, thoughts, and mental images. We stop trying to shape our inner experience. In short, we let go of dwelling in the content of our mind.

At that stage, the peace of consciousness emerges naturally. We enter the vast, comforting, and cognizant stillness that lies just beneath our thoughts and sensations. This peace touches us to the core. Finally, we can just be.

Yet the Goal lies deeper still. We become aware of consciousness itself and we may well wonder what could be deeper that this? It seems so all encompassing. But by the continuing action of egoistic self-centeredness in our inner world, we know we are not yet transformed. So we search for another direction, a perceptually difficult task. Consciousness in its essence seems utterly empty, though not empty of itself, its own substance of awareness. And it has us in it, the seer.

In seeking a way beyond, we let go of consciousness itself, the context of our mind. In so doing, our consciousness may start showing gaps, gaps through which we may contact the potent and ecstatic energy of Divine Light, as described last week in “Ecstasy Through Prayer.” What a wonder!

But God is not an energy and, though we repeatedly enter the Light, transformation still eludes us. So we persist in our search, even in this rarefied realm. And we, as the seer, are still there. Then we realize that the only thing left to go beyond is our self, our I, our own inner seer and doer, in other words our will. Inwardly we reach beyond all, beyond ourselves. We may even touch the Divine. But still our central separateness persists.

So we confront the challenge of unconditional surrender and submission to God. Through our years of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, we have wrung and wrought our own I, our own free will, from the many disparate parts of our nature. But that I has been downward- or self-facing as egoism. Now we reach the point of submission, of facing upward, of freely joining our hard-won will to the Divine Will, of allowing the Great Purpose of Life to work through us, with our conscious cooperation. Though the Ultimate Purpose cannot be reduced to, described by, or even summarized in words, It becomes our purpose.

That requires absolute purity: a clear conscience and selfless love. We stand before God and offer ourselves, root and branch, in service. We reach beyond ourselves, while giving ourselves up from the inside, inviting, begging the Divine to grace us. That inner emptiness attracts the Sacred, just as the Sacred attracts us. But egoism, our knot in the rope of will, always seeks to fill our emptiness with itself, with our own image. The purifying action of offering heartfelt submission in prayer eventually unties the knot of ego. The rope straightens and God, the Divine Will, enters such a person directly, becoming their center. That person enters God as God, not as him- or herself. In this way, the spiritual path, the work of prayer, and a human life attain fruition.

Then that person can serve God’s loving purposes consciously and directly, walking with God in sacred communion, each step, each breath, each act an inspired prayer.


     

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