Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of October 14, 2013

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Eternal Being

(Time and the Timeless: Part 2)

Time and timelessness are not mutually exclusive: they are different layers of our one reality. One of the layers within the timeless we call eternity. We will investigate other realms of the timeless later in this inner work series. For now we will focus on our experience of and understanding of one part of eternity.

The fact that time and eternity are not mutually exclusive means we do not need somehow to stop time in order to taste eternity. Time never stops. But our experience, our awareness can shift and expand out from being wholly in the stream of events, by turning toward the timeless, in particular toward eternity.

The most direct and repeatable way to taste eternity is in quiet meditation. After some time of sitting and just being, our thoughts begin to slow down, to stand out in relief. We begin to see between them, into the gaps. We begin to enter those gaps between thoughts. We discover a zone of stillness and peace behind our thoughts, a timeless zone of pure awareness, pure cognizance, without boundaries.

This is our consciousness, the conscious energy. In consciousness not much seems to happen: we just are. Consciousness belongs to eternity, not time. All the movements of thought, emotion, and body take place in time, while our awareness sits in eternity, in the timeless. Those thoughts that do enter the zone of consciousness have a different quality than our ordinary thinking. They come quietly, shedding the words that carry them to reveal pure meaning. Conscious thinking works at the level of meaning and concept, not at the level of words. While conscious thinking consists of interacting bearers of meaning, platonic forms, the primary experience of consciousness is of the cognizant, peaceful, and all-pervasive substance at the root of our mind.

Consciousness or pure awareness is not subject to time. This layer of experience surrounds and penetrates the stream of events in time, yet remains unchanged. Looking into your own past, you may recognize something unchanging, namely your basic awareness. The consciousness, the pure awareness through which you experienced your life ten years ago or yesterday is the very same as the one you have right now. Certainly the content of awareness, the stream of sensory impressions, thoughts, and emotions changes continually, but the consciousness that receives all that does not change. This fundamental awareness we have today is the same we had as children. This essence of our being is eternal and unchanging. All these events and experiences that have happened passed through our awareness, while our awareness itself remained the same. In this inner place, we are now where we have always been.

How is it that we miss this fact? All the experiential, endless content of our life masks the pure awareness that underlies it. Itís like watching a movie at the cinema and forgetting that there is a white screen behind it. We lose touch with our being. We lose touch with the timeless part of us that belongs to eternity.

But it need not be that way. We can learn first to recognize our consciousness, our pure awareness for what it is. We gain a taste for it, particularly in quiet meditation. And then, with practice, with the practice of presence, we can learn to be, we can learn to live more of our life from that place of inner peace, that place that is not in time, that place that is always here and now, always available to us. It may be masked by the stream of events that overlays it, but it is not hidden. It is accessible. It is right here within us. It is our home.

For this week, explore the zone of inner peace, the pure consciousness within you. Taste it, even if only in small doses. At times during the day, notice that inner peace, that pure awareness that is always with you, waiting for you to turn to it, to put it on like a favorite and comfortable piece of clothing.


     

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