Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of October 28, 2013

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Timeless Patterns

(Time and the Timeless: Part 4)

Patterns surround us: the spatial patterns we recognize as the objects, life, Earth and cosmos persisting and moving around us, and the temporal patterns such as the regularities of heartbeat and breath, day and night, the seasons, speech and music. For our spiritual work, several kinds and levels of pattern matter.

Our body’s spatial pattern is fixed in its flexible materiality. We do not need to hold our body together by our will. In its material nature it has a will of its own, by which it maintains its spatial pattern, as well as its many processes, its temporal patterns of respiration, circulation, digestion, sleep, and the rest.

But our inner, spiritual body is very different: it requires our will to nurture it and give it shape. Its substance is immaterial; it is made of inner, spiritual energies, principally the sensitive energy. When we sense our body, we impose a spatial pattern on this inner energy.

That inner body pattern lies at the interface between time and the timeless. Its source in our will is not in time. But its place in our body is in time and suffers interruption and dissipation thereby. So our potential inner body requires continual reinforcement by our attention and intention, by our acts of sensing to give it form, of energy breathing to build it up, and of presence to raise its quality.

In this we see the paradigm of pattern-making. By our creative imagination and our will, the pattern emerges from beyond time and space to organize what is in time and space. Take a simpler example relating to our spiritual work: we decide to meditate daily, to set aside time each day for formal sitting meditation. Or we decide to engage in prayer each day, perhaps the formal prayers of our religion. Or both meditation and prayer. By our decision, by this act of will, we create this positive habit, an action that recurs on a daily basis, an action that slowly deepens our inner life, nurtures our soul, enhances our perceptions, heals our psychological wounds, loosens the chains that bind our spirit, and contributes to the spiritual well-being of our planet.

Now though that habit manifests in time and space, and though it may reside in part in our physical brain, its origin lies in our will. Our will is immaterial and free, unconstrained by time and space. While its manifestations depend on our body, in itself will is beyond body and mind.

Between our will and our repeated actions, there is a pattern, in some cases a habit. Will is not an energy and our activities are material. The guiding patterns between our will and our activities are made of inner energies. That is why good habits are hard to form and bad habits are hard to break. We need to organize or disorganize the relevant brain circuits. But to do that we need to create or disrupt the patterns of energy flows. This takes the sustained action of our will on our energies. It applies not only to physical habits but also to patterns of thought and emotion.

Our spiritual practice trains us to do just that. In meditation, presence, and contemplative prayer, our attention and intention, our will acts on our energies. This is not a physical action in time and space. We can sit still, doing nothing materially, yet still engage in this inner work of the spirit. Or we can practice sensing and presence while in movement, with those inner actions being independent of whether we are moving or not. Such practice gradually opens our perceptions to the timeless, because that is where it takes place, in the realms of will and energies.

For this week, notice how your inner work has its place beyond the material world of bodies and things.


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