Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of June 28, 2010

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World 2: Unity

(Part of the series Worlds of the Spirit)

I and My Father are One (John 10:30)

At the highest level of creation, beyond the World of Sacred Light, we find Unity, three forms of unity, three ways in which the whole of creation is united: unity of purpose, unity of being, and unity of function. Many ancient and respected teachings put forward various representations of this fundamental threefold unity. The Indian Vedas, for example, instruct us about the three basic elements, the three gunas: rajas, tamas, and sattva. Christianity offers the image of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life arranges its ten sephirot in three columns and with triadic connections. All these reflect the fact that threefoldness enters the whole of creation, at its most primal level. And at that level, the three are modes of unity. The transcendent Oneness of World 1, on Its way toward creation, divides into three in the prism of World 2.

Unity of purpose originates in the active, creative Will behind the universe. One outward manifestation of that Will today is the continuing and apparently accelerating expansion of the universe. Without that expansion, no particles would have arisen, no galaxies, no stars, no planets, no life and no us [1]. At our level, we experience this force as our will-to-do, our drive to make, to achieve, to serve, and to create. But at the level of World 2, that Will is not individualized, is not fragmented or diluted. To get a hint of the scale, imagine the unimaginable Will, the mountain of purpose that continuously creates and sustains this vast universe, pushing the universe to expand like blowing an enormous balloon. But this is by no means all that Will does as it descends through the worlds.

At our level, we cannot “know” the overarching Purpose of the universe in the way we know about ordinary things and purposes. But we can aspire to serve that Purpose, to align our own actions, inner and outer, with It. Tracing back our own sense of rightness, our own wisdom and sense of purpose, we see that our conscience, our truest guide, must originate here in World 2, must at its root be connected to the ultimate Purpose, to the creative Will behind the universe. So one aspect of our inner work related to World 2 involves listening to and following our conscience, checked, as always, by common sense and ordinary morality.

Further than that, the practice of deep prayer, directed at connecting with, opening to the highest level possible, applies here. In the within of our within, we open our will toward the great Will of the Universe, toward reuniting with that Will. Two complementary approaches help in this. One is the Total Prayer described as part of our work toward World 3. Here, though, we do not stop in the Sacred Light, but reach toward the vast and beneficent unknown beyond the World of Sacred Light. By emerging into contact with the Light, we have gone beyond consciousness. Another such step is required of us now, though this step goes altogether beyond forms, even beyond the form of Light. We reach as emptiness into emptiness, guided by faith.

The other approach is purely contemplative, complete non-doing. Rather than the directed receptivity of Total Prayer, we let go into non-directed receptivity. We are receptively receptive. We do nothing. We just sit. We do not try to shape our experience in any way. We adopted this very method in approaching Word 4 Consciousness. But here in addressing World 2, we can begin with Total Prayer, contact the World of Sacred Light, deepen our Total Prayer beyond the Sacred Light, and then rest in non-doing to let ourselves be acted upon by the higher will. In this way, it is possible for us, in a moment of true grace, to be touched by World 2.

Unity of function refers to the commonality in the way the universe and its parts operate. This is the framework and substance of the universe, the vast field of space, time, energy and matter in which the great Purpose acts. Unity of function manifests as the general laws of physics and other sciences. For scientists and others who appreciate science, the theoretical understanding of these laws provides a glimpse of the functional unity of the universe. The contemplation of nature offers another avenue toward perceiving that unity. From galaxies to bacteria, everything obeys the physical laws and exists in the framework of space and time. More than that, the law of evolution, the universe-wide movement toward increasing complexity and intelligence, unifies galaxies, stars, planets, life, and molecules in a vast, interdependent, and dynamic web.

To engage in spiritual inner work is to engage in the transformation of energies up and down the scale of that universal web of energies. In doing so, we fulfill our place in the great functional unity. Deep contemplative prayer or meditation opens us to receive the higher energies as they move down into us. In the practices of body awareness, mindfulness, and presence, we transform lower energies to generate higher ones.

Our outward work with respect to the functional unity is to fulfill our role in the functioning of this great world, to be responsible, toward ourselves, our family, our neighbor, our society, and our planet, to serve well, with intelligence, creativity, and heart, and to do what we do with excellence. Our inner work in this functional world is to assimilate knowledge of the spiritual path, to become skilled in its methods, and to practice those methods, to be present as much as we can.

We can readily see our functional similarity to other people. We all share similar body structure and function, similar needs and drives, similar emotional responses, similar patterns of thought. The same kinds of things move people everywhere. But this functional similarity masks the sameness, the unity of being that we all share.

Unity of being reflects the oneness of substance of the entire universe. Physics has proven the interchangeability of energy and matter. The All is of one substance. Why is nature beautiful, even down to the level of the elegant mathematical form of the fundamental laws of physics? That beauty is an outward manifestation of this Holy third of the sacred trinity. That beauty resonates with the beauty within us, with our shared substance. We experience this Unity of being in our curiosity, in our will to know and understand, in our perception of beauty, in our feeling of sameness with others, in our impulses of kindness, care, and love for them, in our love for the sacred.

We open our heart to be reunited with the Great Heart of the World. Love is the perception of unity, of non-separateness. Our work here is to open to love, to our unity with all of life, with all people. And we can do that most readily by approaching the Source of love, the Unity of Being in World 2. Unity of being reminds us that World 2 is beyond individuality, that no separate individuals are found there, that our unity is inherent in it. By complete devotion toward this Source of Unity, love touches and awakens in us.

All this may sound intimidating and impossible for us. But it is possible. The possibility enters as the endowment that every human being receives at birth, as the Sacred clothes Itself with our newborn body. Our own deepest nature already belongs to World 2. We need to reconnect with that Unity.

[1] Eric J. Chaisson, Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001)


     

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