Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of January 24, 2011

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Directed, Sensitive Will

Sensing, Listening, Choosing

(Modes of Will: Part 3 of 11)

The sensitive energy mediates our contact with our senses. With the automatic energy our sensory perceptions remain flat and distant. With the sensitive energy, our perceptions awaken to vivid, living, and immediate color. Our senses awaken because with the sensitive energy we awaken, at least to a partial degree. The sensitive energy enriches our life, shows us another way of living, and opens us to the possibility that even greater spiritual depths await. Our will gains a distinct measure of freedom when operating with the sensitive energy, as compared to its patterned limitation under the automatic energy.

Furthermore, and remarkably, the sensitive energy can become part of the substance of our soul, if by our inner work, we form it into a sensation body, an inner body. All inner work involves some action of our will, in combination with certain energies. The sensitive energy is where our inner work begins.

Sensitive energy comes in at least three flavors, relating to awareness of our body, our thoughts, and our emotions. We call sensation the form of sensitive energy that gives us contact with our body, through the act of sensing. Our actively directed will holds our attention on part or the whole of our body. In so doing, we draw and collect the sensitive energy there. Repeating this act of will often and for longer periods gradually helps build the sensitive energy in our body into a sort of second body, a soul body, an inner body of sensation. Notice that our will, in the act of sensing, plays the key role in this spiritual inner work. The will to sense makes the sensing happen.

The sensitive energy of thought gives us contact with our thoughts. When we actively direct our perceptions toward our thoughts, we entrain the sensitive energy of thought, drawing that energy into our mind, and putting us in contact with the existence and meaning of those thoughts. Most mental work, knowledge work, school learning, problem solving, or reading for meaning, requires this sensitive energy of thought, requires directing our perception into our mind. So instead of our usual state of being unknowingly and unintentionally enthralled by automatic, associative thoughts, we know our thoughts, we cognize the contents of our mind, and can even will our thoughts onto topics we select.

The sensitive energy of emotion puts us in contact with our emotions. We feel what we are feeling. Automatic emotions just react and take us over, while we paradoxically remain out of touch, at a distance from our emotions. Those automatic, reactive emotions hijack an empty shell. We are not there; our will is constrained to the pattern of emotional reaction. With the sensitive energy, there already begins to be someone there, our will, to feel the emotion. So our will no longer just blindly follows the programmed emotional pattern. Our will is in contact with the emotion, which thereby becomes both enriched and malleable. Instead of some unwanted event hitting our emotions like a brick, we become more like water. The event may cause an emotional splash, but the enhanced coherence of our will enables us to stay more together, the waves of emotion settle down sooner. We can even actively assert our emotions to feel in ways appropriate to our situation. For example, in prayer, in being with a loved one, or in meeting a new person, we open our hearts intentionally.

Intentional sensing, thinking, and feeling exemplify actively directed modes of will with the sensitive energy. We now turn to the receptively directed modes.

When someone speaks to us or we attend a concert, we may listen. We may direct our will, our intention toward the person or the musicians. To listen deeply and well, we adopt a receptive attitude of will. We allow whatís being said or played to come to us, to enter us. The sensitive energy mediates this process by enabling our contact with what we hear or see. That energy makes the impressions vivid and alive, while affording us the flexibility of will to fully savor the event.

When in conversation in the automatic energy, our will primarily follows the path of strategizing, reacting, and planning what we will or will not say when itís our turn to speak. All of that happens by rote, by our long established patterns of conditioning. We listen perfunctorily at best. With the sensitive energy we can open to contact with the words and with the person. We can listen without all our inner noise and reactions distracting us from the conversation. We hear whatís actually being said to us and can consider its meaning. And this is not just intellectual. We can feel the emotional tenor and impact of what we hear. All of that, however, depends on our will, on our willingness to listen. We may be full of the sensitive energy, in contact with ourselves and our surroundings, but unless we are willing to listen, to be receptive, we will not hear.

We now turn to will in the mode of directed synergy.

With the automatic energy, we have no choices, or at best illusory choices, because that level of energy constrains our will into pre-programmed patterns. Choices begin to open to us with the sensitive energy, which puts us in contact with alternatives. The sensitive energy presents us with the situation, shows us the choice, and supports enough freedom of will so that we can choose. We receive the situation and we act within its framework, so we engage both receptive and active qualities of will. But those qualities combine into a synergy of will, which actually chooses and follows through on that choice. You perceive the situation and its alternatives and you not only can but actually do make a choice. This can apply in an endless variety of ways throughout our day, if we are awake at least to the level of the sensitive energy.

The considerations informing our choices, however, concern whatís immediately confronting us and do not have a great reach of foresight, as might be the case with a decision, which engages a level of energy higher than the sensitive. With the sensitive energy we are able to think clearly and rationally to foresee consequences and we are able to feel our emotional attitude toward the choice. Nevertheless a choice does not have the same power of determining our behavior into the future as does a decision. Choices are more readily and more often reversed or abandoned. But worthy choices repeated can make worthy habits. The point here is to become aware of our potential ability to choose and to exercise that form of will.

For this week, notice how you, your directed will operates at the level of the sensitive energy: actively through sensing, thinking, and feeling, receptively in listening, and in the synergy of choice.


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