Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of November 5, 2012

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Contemplating the Source through Attention

(Growing a Spiritual Life: Part 8)

Attention is a form of will. The Source of all will, including our own, is the Divine Will. So to contemplate the source of our attention is to contemplate the Source of all. If we were to sit down to direct ourselves toward the Divine, we would be at sea, with no compass, no landmarks, nothing to guide us. Yes, we might have words, thoughts, or emotions, but still, in that inner landscape beyond words, thoughts, and ordinary emotions, we would not know where to turn, what direction take, or even be able to see that there are different directions. It’s empty in there, devoid of any recognizable content — no signs, no landmarks, no milestones, no things. Yet the one possibility that does remain, that can show us the way through that void, is our will and in particular our attention.

Consciousness gives a starting point, a platform, but cannot really help because it is not the source; it is the principal substance of the stillness beyond which we seek to travel. Our will, our attention can direct our consciousness. So will and attention are primary, deeper than consciousness. It is right that spiritual practice improves our contact with consciousness, but that is not the ultimate, it is a stepping stone. The real action ¬— love, service, creativity, and such — has to do with will.

So here we are, sitting, relatively quiet inside, and ready to contemplate the source of attention. Now what? We begin, as with many meditation practices, and indeed many of the tasks we face in life, by holding our attention focused on one object. We could focus on a prayer, a mantra, our breath, or a visualization. Those are all good, effective approaches. But another approach is to focus our attention on our whole body. This collects the sensitive energy in our body, which strengthens and then offers an intensifying target and more stable anchor for our attention. We sit with our full attention spread throughout our body and in contact with the sensitive energy there. Then we occupy our attention, we inhabit our body as our attention, as our will. Here I am in my body, whole and complete. We stand in our center, which includes our whole sensation body. Here I am.

Our power of attention is our most intimate quality. Our I stands at the root of our attention. We direct our attention. Our I directs and chooses what we attend to. We are our attention. I am my attention. So in strengthening our attention, we strengthen our contact with ourselves, we become ourselves, our I. We sit here as I. I inhabit my whole body, my sensation body. I am.

It is tempting to stop there. We feel whole and complete. We feel like ourselves. Life is good.

But there is more. The question arises: where does my I come from, where do I come from? So we look deeper. We look beyond our I. This does not mean somehow sidestepping our I. It means going through and beyond ourselves in depth. It means opening the back door of my I, the innermost side of who I am, relaxing so deeply that I relax my I. In so doing, we let go of the inner cap that blocks the roots of our I. We allow the stream of will flowing from its higher sacred Source to flow through us, through our I, through our attention.

In sitting with attention, as attention, inhabiting our whole body, our attention grows strong. It becomes more obvious, more substantive. It is like a column of force passing right through our center. Its outermost end reaches the objects of attention, our body, our thoughts, our perceptions and so on. Its innermost end is hidden in the recesses of our being. It is toward that hidden innermost end that we search. We trace back along this column of attention. We trace back within ourselves. Our attention, our will, our I, gives us something to follow toward its roots. That direction is not obvious. The stronger our attention, the stronger we feel ourselves to be here, the more clearly we can see our way within. We open our innermost door and step through, or at least toward its threshold. That is the threshold of the Sacred, of Whom we are each a particle.

For this week, contemplate the Source through your attention.


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