Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 3, 2014

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Transcending Consciousness

(Transcendence: Part 7)

We live and move and have our being in consciousness, our fundamental awareness. Consciousness is the cognitive screen on which all our sensory perceptions, thoughts, and emotions appear in short, our entire life plays out within the context of consciousness. In meditation, when everything quiets down, when you are left with pure seeing, pure cognition, peace, and equanimity, with the big sky mind, it is consciousness, the conscious energy in the foreground. This is a very high state, a wonderful state, the milieu of presence. To the extent we become able to live in that big sky mind, our life is transformed.

Some even consider consciousness to be the Divine, to be God. So why speak of transcending consciousness? Is that even possible, given that consciousness is all-pervasive? And even if it were possible, why aim for that?

The first thing to recognize is that consciousness is. It does not act. It does not do anything. It is an energy, an inner territory, albeit refined and ubiquitous. On the other hand, God acts. The Creator creates. So simple logic leads us to infer that consciousness is not the Divine. The first is, while the second does.

Which in turn leads to another question: then what or where is God? Regardless of all our searching, we have not found God within the world of our senses, or within consciousness. If God is not consciousness and God is not within consciousness, a further inference of simple logic implies that God is beyond consciousness. Which in its turn, immediately raises the question of how to transcend consciousness. If we wish to approach God, or open to God, we must confront the problem of transcending consciousness.

We begin by becoming thoroughly familiar with consciousness itself. This is not our ordinary state, for usually we are lost in the contents of consciousness, in all the sensory perceptions, thoughts, and emotions that make up what we know as our life. Consciousness is underneath all that. In quiet meditation, we may come into the big sky mind of cognizant stillness, of the pure awareness that contains all that we know and see and feel. We repeatedly steep ourselves in that, to the point where we can recognize its presence in us at any time, not just in meditation but also in the middle of our busy day. When we well know the taste of consciousness, we can relax back into it at any time.

There is much that enters consciousness. What we recognize is what enters from below consciousness, namely all our sensory impressions, thoughts, mental images, and emotions. All of that comes up from the automatic and sensitive energies into the higher energy of consciousness that is, in those moments when we are in touch with consciousness. From the side above consciousness, beyond consciousness, other elements enter. One of these is will, which we can most easily recognize in its manifestation as our attention.

So we practice focusing and sustaining our attention to strengthen it, to strengthen our will. As we work with attention, it becomes an obvious force field in our inner world. With robust attention we can reflect it back on itself, to look for where attention comes from. But we see nothing there, for attention and even more so will, do not exist in time and space, and are not part of consciousness, nor contents of consciousness. Rather attention can direct consciousness.

So instead of just looking back there, we move backward within ourselves, backward along the pole of attention. We become our attention, our will. And then we become its source. This is our direction for piercing the veil of consciousness, for coming toward the Sacred realm hidden by our consciousness. If we practice this, if we repeatedly use this method as a means of exploration, gradually we see. We find our way to open to the Sacred through the very core of ourselves. We find our way to transcend consciousness into contact with the realm of Sacred Light, which creates and feeds our being.


     

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