Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 28, 2011

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Delving Deep

(Developing Will: Aspect 8 of 10)

Developing will not only entails strengthening and unifying our will, but also refining it. One important aspect of refining will consists of extending our abilities to perceive higher energies and higher worlds. The deepening of our inner life both depends on and results in raising the quality and refinement of our perceptions. It is our will that can reach toward the higher realms, that can look to notice what we have never noticed, that can stretch our understanding beyond mental, emotional, or instinctive knowing. We seek the Sacred and seek to serve the Sacred. That seeking is an act of will. The understanding of how to seek well is a developing property of will.

Consciousness is the fundamental background of awareness. All our thoughts, emotions, and other sensory impressions are displayed on the screen of consciousness. To move into direct experience of the cognizant stillness of the conscious energy takes a two-fold act of will. This act revolves around relaxing and letting go, around allowing ourselves to be drawn deeper and letting go of what holds us back. The letting go part we will address in the next aspect of Developing Will. For now, we look into what it means to allow ourselves to be drawn deeper.

We are drawn by what attracts us. Certainly we know this externally: when we see something or someone who attracts us, our attention and energies, if not our actions, flow in that direction. But there is also an inner attractor, the source of true satisfaction. We experience this in our need for meaning, in our desire to act creatively and to serve, in our conscience which prompts us to do the right thing, in our desire to love. All of these manifest the inner attractor, the Sacred, albeit in a veiled, indirect manner.

To open more directly to that inner attractor, we begin by relaxing, by allowing the fog of inner noise to settle and subside. And then, on its own, the conscious energy coalesces in us, and we come to recognize and rest in consciousness, to rest in just seeing, to rest in spacious, pre-sensory awareness itself. Thus the first major step into higher energies, into our inward depths, is the step into consciousness.

We can learn to make that step in formal, sitting meditation, although the experience of consciousness, once we understand and can replicate it, certainly is not limited to meditation sessions. So in our sitting, we relax into silence, into non-doing. We do nothing except see whatever arises in us. We neither try to stop our thoughts nor get lost in them. We just are. And in that just being, we begin to recognize our pure awareness, our pure consciousness itself, the cognizant screen on which our senses, thoughts, and emotions are displayed. We soak in this pre-sensory consciousness, in its stillness, in this spacious sea of awareness. Thoughts may come and go, while we stay in this vast, non-specific awareness. The thoughts pass like small clouds floating through the big sky of consciousness.

As remarkable as the discovery of consciousness is, it is not the end of the story, not even close. There are two deeper domains beyond consciousness. And the true home of the Sacred inner attractor lies beyond even those. Our inner work sensitizes us to its call, so that the inner attractor becomes for us a beacon guiding our way. For that we add to our meditation practice the work of contemplative, silent prayer, the work of opening to and reaching for what is beyond consciousness. This takes will in the form of sincerity, humility, dedication, and persistent exploration to find the way in. If consciousness surrounds us in every direction, what is the direction beyond consciousness? In asking that question, in that silent prayer, we reach inward, toward and beyond our own root, toward the source of our will. At first we seek blindly. Later we begin to touch it. Then more and more, we find our way into the realm of bliss, the creative light of the Sacred. We learn to enter there at will. After repeated experiences of this, as our understanding grows and our will becomes more refined, we move beyond self-indulgent enjoyment of the bliss and see it as profound nourishment for our soul, a flow of a very high energy. That is the first domain beyond consciousness.

Again, though, the realm of bliss and Sacred light is not the end of the story. We delve deeper still. Only the next domain does not open to us as our own act of will, but only as an act of the higher will. Our role is one of opening, of allowing ourselves to be drawn toward that Sacred inner attractor, of true humility and shedding our self-centeredness, of recognizing that our very core is empty and can only be filled by our true connection with the Divine. Prayer that points toward the highest, such as repeating one of the names of God, can support that disposition. We orient and empty ourselves toward the Highest.

We start where we are and reach deeper. Each level requires a different type of inner work. Along the way, our will grows in understanding, refinement, perception and capability. For this week, delve deeper.


     

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