Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of May 2, 2011

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Freedom in Presence

(The Path of Liberation: Part 6 of 9)

Having exposed the illusion of self, our former false belief that we are our personality, and having thereby awakened to a measure of freedom, we turn now to consolidating that freedom and living it. In the practice of presence, we find the primary path to living in freedom. Just as presence helps awaken us from the illusion of self and slavery to our personality, it can help us stay free and live without falling back under the illusion. In this article we discuss the energy aspects of presence, while in the next three parts of this inner work series we elaborate its will aspects.

Presence means, in part, full awareness of the here and now, both of external events brought to us by our senses and of inner events such as thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. Three levels of energy are relevant here: automatic, sensitive, and conscious. When we live by the automatic energy, we allow a direct, habit-laden connection between our perceptions and our reactions, between what happens and our inner responses. We are at the mercy of events and the patterns of our personality. Our work on this path of liberation has enabled us to see the truth of this situation, this unsatisfying mode of living, wholly driven by random perceptions and conditioned patterns.

As soon as we intentionally bring the sensitive energy into our perceptions, we start dissolving the automatic connections between what happens and how we react, we start being able to see what happens more objectively and have some freedom of choice in our responses or non-responses. To work with the sensitive energy, we practice sensing our body, first in parts, then the whole, then more often, for longer periods and more strongly. Sensing our body spills over into sensitive awareness of our thoughts and emotions as they occur. Energy breathing offers a way to further increase our store of sensitive energy. And all of this ongoing, practical, blue-collar inner work with the sensitive energy raises us out of the thrall of the automatic mode of living.

To awaken the sensitive energy and organize it into our inner body requires a higher action, that of our attention and its attendant conscious energy. Our will directs our attention, acting through the medium of the conscious energy. So intentionally sensing our body not only draws and keeps the sensitive energy in our body, but also brings the conscious energy to bear. While body sensation may be experienced as granular and particulate, vibrating particles of sensation, the conscious energy is a smooth, continuous, malleable, cognizant field. Sensing our body brings these two types of energies together, gradually blending them into a persistent platform for presence. The sensation seems to be embedded in the conscious energy, stabilizing both in a new form.

But how does presence serve inner freedom? Living in awareness, living in the conscious energy raises us out of identification with our personality, with our thoughts and emotions and our body as me. It does this by ushering us into the halls of inner peace. The cognizant stillness of consciousness, the kind of state we enter in meditation, is available always, even during a busy day. The deeper our practice of meditation, the more we are able to recognize and stay in consciousness in our life beyond the sitting cushion. When our thoughts and emotions and sensory perceptions arise and pass through the vast spaces of consciousness, we see them as they are: a small, fleeting aspect of our total being. Seeing our thoughts, emotions, and personality from that perspective, naturally protects us from identifying with any of that. The work of presence means staying in contact with the cognizant stillness of consciousness, which enables us to not identify with all that goes on. Itís a matter of living in the cognizant stillness intentionally, of standing in that cognizant stillness, in the peace of consciousness, in the midst of daily life, even as we speak and act and do what we do.

For this week, practice presence through sensing and living in the cognizant stillness of consciousness. And practice freedom, seeing what you already know to be true: that your thoughts, emotions, and personality patterns are not you.


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