Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 1, 2010

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I Am Present

(Aspect 12 of 12 of the Path to Presence)

The stool of presence may be stable with its three legs of presence in body, presence in heart, and presence of mind, but that situation is not complete. The purpose of a stool is for someone to sit on it. That someone is You, your I, your I Am, the agent of your life, the one who is present in your body, heart, and mind. It would be more accurate to say that the stool is not one of presence, but rather a stool of awareness — unless there is someone sitting on it. There can be awareness of body, of heart, and of mind. But without You there as the one who is aware, the one who is present, it is simply like a robot with sensors.

The core of presence is the one who is present, the one who inhabits your body from within, the one who feels your emotions, the one who cognizes through your mind, the one who lives your life and does what you do. Ordinarily we take this one for granted. We assume that we are always here as the one who experiences and lives our life. But even a cursory investigation reveals that sensory awareness, thoughts, and actions typically go on by themselves without “You.” This is particularly obvious in our automatic thoughts, which think themselves by association, without us thinking them or directing them or even necessarily being aware of them. Such awareness often comes after the fact, when we notice that a whole train of thoughts has arisen on its own and passed through our mind.

So this final aspect of the Path to Presence involves the practice of being the one who experiences and lives our life, the practice of being here at home in our center. Be the one who sees through your eyes, the one who is aware of your thoughts, aware of your mind, aware of your center of emotion. Inhabit your body. Inhabit your feeling. In habit your mind. Claim it all as your own. Instead of letting so many of your words and actions happen on their own in a stimulus-response cycle and without your participation, say what you say and do what you do. Engage and be who you are.

The subtlety is that who we are, our I, is will. And will does not exist in the same way that material objects or even energies exist. Will cannot be touched or seen or weighed or experienced. Indeed, it is will that does the touching, the seeing, the weighing, and the experiencing. Just as our physical eye cannot see itself, will looks, but not back at itself. Will acts but is not acted upon. But we can enter our will, our I, by being it, by being the actor, the agent, the seer, the decider, the director of our attention.

There are two levels in this. At the level of the conscious energy, we can be our I directly. We have a sense of wholeness and agency, a sense that I am the agent of my life, that I am the decider, the chooser, the experiencer — here in this moment. We feel ourselves to be the one who is here. We will our self to be and we are. But … this is not our actual I. We could call this our True Self [1]. And we would do very well to live in our True Self, more and more.

To get a taste of this, just ask yourself “Am I here?” And then you answer with full intention and with the whole of yourself: “Yes, I am here.” As you do so, be here, be the one who is saying this, thinking this. This is you, your True Self, sitting in the seat of presence.

There is, however, a deeper level of I, one which we do not enter directly, but rather one to which we can open, one which we can allow to enter us. The difference between True Self and I is where it begins. With True Self, we may feel ourselves to be our own source, to be our own individual self, separate from other people, from other selves. The transition to I occurs when we, as our True Self, open inwardly to the source just behind our True Self. We open our very core to let our own higher will flow into and through us, as us. That is our I, but is not so separate from other I’s. We recognize our I as fully our own, as who we really are, yet also as not just our own, but as connected at its root, at our root, with something vastly greater than us.

For this week, practice being your True Self, and even opening to your I. Be the one who lives your life, who makes your choices, who does what you do, and who experiences your experience. Rather than leave the seat of presence empty, inhabit your own center and complete your presence.

[1] See J. G. Bennett, Deeper Man (Santa Fe: Bennett Books, 1978), pp. 108-112


     

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