Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 23, 2009

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Seeking God, The One

(Aspect 12 of 12 of the Path of Right Living)

The Shivapuri Baba taught that God is hidden by consciousness, that if we can remove consciousness, we shall see God. To remove the veil of consciousness means not only to go beyond our ordinary awareness, but even beyond the vast, cognizant and peaceful stillness underlying ordinary awareness. That stillness is consciousness. It seems to be the deepest experience available to us. And before we look to go beyond it, we need to steep ourselves in it, in the peace and silence of our background awareness. Quiet meditation can help in this, help us understand the transparent texture and spacious contours of consciousness.

Still, how can we go beyond that? How can we go beyond consciousness, this all pervasive awareness in which, in our more centered moments, we participate? This question can be a very fruitful entrée to contemplation and contemplative prayer. In such contemplation, we inwardly explore the question, not by thinking or ruminating about it, but by actually looking within ourselves for the direction leading outside the envelope of consciousness. It must be a direction of depth, but practically speaking, what or where is that? What lies behind, beneath our awareness of our ordinary awareness? The depth we seek transcends the categories of inner and outer. Persistently contemplating and creatively exploring all this, in humility and devotion, leads us closer to the Real, as we dive into our self and behind the field of consciousness.

Pursuing this exploration beyond consciousness, we first encounter the Sacred Light, a high world of great spiritual blessing and nourishment. Contact with the Light helps us enormously in many ways and is fully worthy of cultivation. But — this is not the Ultimate. Touching or entering the world of Sacred Light does not mean that our search is complete.

In seeking God, we seek the One Who continuously creates and sustains this universe and all the worlds, including the world of Sacred Light. So not only must we seek beyond consciousness, but also beyond the Light. This makes God sound remote from us. But that is mistaken. God is close, as close as our own will.

We can repeatedly align our inmost self, our will, with God’s will and thereby come to participate directly in the One, or rather the One can come to participate in us, as us. Toward this, we make room in ourselves. We open, even more deeply than before: more deeply than opening to consciousness, more deeply than opening to the realm of Sacred Light. We open our very core, prostrating ourselves inwardly in abject surrender before the Ineffable One, both immanent and transcendent. We inwardly let go of all that we are and point every fiber of our being toward the Real. A sacred word or phrase can help as a focus, but only as a stepping stone toward total devotion, total surrender in that very moment, surrender of body, mind, and heart, surrender of our very self. Our lack of purity prevents us from entering the Sacred Presence. But the practice of surrender is the practice of purification.

Diving into the source of our will, into its unfathomable depths, we find that our source is the Source of All. When we love someone, say a person in our family, we are not separate from them. Their welfare is our own. We want for them what they want for themselves. Their pain is our pain. Their joy is our joy. Our self-centeredness disappears in this love. That love provides a foretaste of union with our Source.

The foregoing approach to seeking God can be called actively receptive or receptively active depending on the momentary emphasis. Yet there is another effective and traditional approach: that of pure receptivity, of letting go, of surrendering utterly, radically. After initially orienting our intention toward God, we sit and do nothing, or rather we sit and make no attempt to do or change anything. We leave all as it is. We just abide in being here, in awareness with no inwardly active movement, with no shaping of experience. We sit and be. Persisting in this, our inner state changes on its own. This non-doing, this surrendering to what is, as is, makes room for the higher will to enter us. In the perfection of non-doing lies the transcendence of egoism, of all that separates us from the Perfect One.

These two approaches complement each other. We can find great succor in either or in both, as our intuitive wishes guide us.

For this week, seek God.


     

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