Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 7, 2011

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Non-Directed, Conscious Will

Intention, Being, Presence

(Modes of Will: Part 9 of 11)

As we climb their levels, each successively higher energy responds to will with greater agility, each more closely conforming to the nature of will, until, at the apex of reality, the Transcendent energy embodies the will of the Creator directly. The conscious energy marks a threshold between the ordinary energies of life and those that transcend life, between what is readily perceptible and what is doing the perceiving. In its cognizant stillness, its blank-slate readiness for action, its quality of wholeness, as the lowest energy through which our individual will can act without splintering, the conscious energy forms the underlying substance of our inner world. Let us examine how our will engages the conscious energy, our will in its non-directed mode, not defining a narrow field of action nor selecting a specific object for action or response.

Intentions are active forms of will working with the conscious energy, having an outward moving nature. Intentions straddle the divide between directed and non-directed modes of will, with intentions forming, shaping, and driving the directed modes, such as choosing, deciding, and paying attention. Consider the non-directed intentions of the will-to-be, the will-to-do, the will-to-live, the will-to-serve, and the will-to-know. These intentions may cascade down to specific choices and actions directed to specific objects. But the will-to-be itself is not directed toward any object, inner or outer. Like all intentions, the will-to-be moves outward, but it moves from the more within to the less within, its entire action being within us. Engaging your own will-to-be actively brings you into this moment: here I am, now. Even more than attention, the will-to-be lets us taste the nature of will almost directly. The will-to-be does not itself cause us to take any particular outward action, to say or do anything. It just brings us to feel and experience: I am. Our I is our will, in this case our active will-to-be engaging the conscious energy in us. That energy does not reach down to manifest anything visible, since it is the energy of pure awareness. So willing ourselves to be is a completely inward experience, one we can carry with us to ongoing beneficial effect on our life.

Consider another non-directed, active, conscious intention: the will-to-excellence. Though the striving for excellence leads us to many specific, directed actions, the will-to-excellence itself is an attitude to life, a way of living by doing what we do as well as we can, foregoing shortcuts and half-measures wherever possible, making our actions and works shine to reflect, however imperfectly, the sacred light of perfection. We intuit the realm of perfection beyond our ordinary world and we relate to that realm by our will-to-excellence. As Christ put it: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). All perfection emanates from that higher world and our own will passes through that realm on its way down to us. So our will-to-excellence reconnects us with that high world, carrying some of its light into our everyday world. Real satisfaction usually eludes us, but doing what we do with that extra quality, with excellence, does satisfy, by touching our deep need for perfection.

The principal action of conscious, receptive, non-directed will is just being. Unlike the will-to-be with its active nature, its outgoing movement, the act of being receives and moves inward. We rest in awareness, relieved of all burdens, all effort, all entanglements. We allow ourselves to be, just be. In this stillness of will, the conscious energy naturally settles and collects and our awareness grows organically. Doing nothing, we become. Our heart rests at peace as the feeling of equanimity permeates us thoroughly. Just being, we can let everything be as it is, making no effort to change or shape our experience, conscious of our perceptions as they flow along unhindered, allowing ourselves to be drawn into the still and comforting pool of pure awareness, wrapped in the peace of non-doing consciousness, as though we were back in the womb where nothing is required of us and all is provided. Just being, what a relief this simple state offers, reached most readily by sitting in meditation, not doing anything, allowing experience to unfold organically, at its own pace, taking us into timeless eternity, the vast and spacious hall of consciousness.

Combining these two modes of will, we enter the central practice of spirituality in daily life, namely presence, the synergy of the active intention of the will-to-be and the receptive will of just being. The receptive aspect of presence gives us equanimity of heart and broad awareness of ourselves and our surroundings, while through the active aspect we inhabit our being as the one who is present, the one who is responsible. The third or synergic aspect gives us the unique inner freedom that presence affords, the sense of wholeness and solidity, of living fully as we are meant to live, of being ourselves, of not allowing our time or our life to pass us by. Presence puts us in position to open to and receive from the higher, to be our Self, the Self of all selves.

For this week, practice being your intentions, particularly your will-to-be and your will-to-excellence. Practice just being, resting in awareness. And combine those in your practice of presence.


     

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