Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 31, 2014

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Deepening Our Inner Life

Introduction: Experimentation and Exploration

The deeper we go into the spirit, the more radiant and beautiful our ordinary world becomes and the more meaningful our life is. This is not a change in our world, but rather a change in the clarity of our perceptions. The less distracted we are by our self-generating thoughts and reactive emotions, the more we can see the world, and see it as it is. The mere existence of this planet and all the life on it, including the people, is truly remarkable. Setting aside our jaded attitude toward life, we begin to appreciate it all so much more.

This does not mean that we self-impose an expectation of constant happiness, nor that we reject our thoughts and emotions. Rather, the deepening of our being gives us a different perspective, one that accepts everything, including ourselves, as is. We can still work to change, to improve, but without the self-rancor and rejection. We work toward our goals, we work to serve, not to escape ourselves.

Our spiritual practice can open our perceptions to the depth and beauty that surrounds us. But the vast array of practices presents a challenge: which ones should we take up? Some are more effective than others. Some are more suited to our unique individuality, our background of experience, and our current state of being. What we need and what is possible for us can and do change, year to year, day to day, and moment to moment. Having tried various practices and worked with them to the point of familiarity and some facility, we can rely on them as elements of our inner work tool box.

This is where we can profit from taking a scientific approach, using both theory and experiment. The useful theories include, for example, the schema of inner energies and the procedures of the various practices. Theories of the nature of the soul and the spiritual realms abound in religious and spiritual literature. From those, we take what speaks to us, what we relate to, what inspires us.

And then, guided by the theory, we use the practices as experiments, with ourselves as the experimental subject. We notice what works and what does not. What works best? We look for different ways to evaluate our practices. What does it mean for a practice to “work” for us? How can we recognize the effects of a practice? How long does it take to make a valid assessment of the usefulness of a practice for us? If we try a particular type of meditation once, is that enough to judge by? Is there something new we should try?

Closely associated with the experimentalist approach is the creative and exploratory approach. Are there aspects of our inner world which matter but which we have ignored? Are there new directions we need to explore inwardly? Are there adjustments we need to make to our practices, even going beyond how they were originally taught to us? One reason this matters is that much of what is most important about the spirit, about inner work, cannot be taught, cannot be put into words. Instead we need to discover the depth for ourselves, by seeking ways to go beyond our current understanding and experience, by looking inwardly in new directions, in ways we have not looked before.

While our inner experimentation and exploration need to be pragmatic, it profits us to heed the small hints, the tentative intuitions that point toward new possibilities. Is this just imagination and wishful thinking, or is there something real there? We give it a chance; we try it out for a while. Then we get pragmatic. Does it fit? Is it effective? Does it open something new and real to us? And is it worth our limited time and energy?

As we work our way along the path, the spirit calls us more vividly, re-awakening our longing to become what we could be, to live a more soulful life. Wherever we are in the great chain of being, wherever we are in our personal journey at this moment, that is the only and the right place to begin again to deepen our spiritual work. In this series on deepening our inner life, we will look at certain spiritual practices and approaches that we may find particularly useful.

    1. Silence
    2. Energy Breathing
    3. Developing Our Sensation Body
    4. The Energy of Higher Emotions
    5. Fasting and Other Will Tasks
    6. Cultivating the Heart of Love
    7. Being Who I Am
    8. Inner Excellence
    9. Whole Presence
    10. Informed Initiative
    11. The Source of Will is the Source of All
    12. Persistence: Doing What Matters

For this week, please begin or reinvigorate that self-experimentation and exploration.


        

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