Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of December 1, 2014

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Non-Doing in the Great Self

(The Levels of No-Self: Part 3)

Pure listening is a sacred act. Imagine you are in a conversation with someone. They are speaking. You are listening, just listening. Inwardly you are not reacting or judging or preparing your response or impatiently waiting for an opportunity to jump in and speak. They are speaking and you are listening with full attention. No thoughts or reactive emotions intrude between you and the person to whom you are listening. They feel heard. They feel appreciated for their own intrinsic value. But more than that, if you look carefully into yourself, into who is listening, you may see that the listening is happening through you. Yes, you are the one who is listening, but it is more than you. It is the Sacred listening through you. So if you can just listen purely enough, then the person is being heard not just by you, but by the Sacred. Such listening is an act of love. What a gift for both!

Our usual listening tends to be passive, where we let the other person speak, while we pay attention, but we are also inwardly full of reactions to what we are hearing. Pure listening begins in the wholeness of being. To just listen we need to be able to just be. Here I am. We allow thoughts to come and go. We allow emotions to come and go. We allow all sensory impressions to come and go. And all the while, we just stay here in this moment, in our body, in our mind, in our heart, in this place. We allow it all to be as it is. We are open to our life in this moment, aware of it as a whole. We are. This is the prerequisite for many wonderful things, including the ability to just listen.

Active situations, where we are not just sitting still, seem to be fundamentally different than listening. While that is true outwardly, inwardly it is possible for us to be in the wholeness of being even when outwardly active. We can begin to practice toward that by sensing our body while we are moving, for example while walking. We maintain awareness of our body by expanding our attention to include our entire body as well as our surroundings, as we walk. This act of conscious walking generates energy, enabling us to be. When thoughts arise, we notice them and we stay with the walking. Our body and surroundings engage our full attention. We let our body flow in the walk. Though fully aware, we do not feel: I am walking. There is just walking.

Just walking and pure listening are only two of the countless examples of non-doing in action that are possible for us. Creative endeavors, athletics, cooking, cleaning, making music, dancing, intellectual contemplation, meditation, and prayer are a few more categories of activities that lend themselves to such perfection in action. Their characteristics include active, full engagement of our attention and intention as well as receptivity to qualitative feedback. We make adjustments until the action comes right, and then a harmonizing wholeness allows it to continue without further interference from us.

In one sense we are fully there, fully engaged. In another sense, we are not, our self-referential sense vanishes. We effectively enter a greater Self that is the hallmark of perfection: “thy will be done.” We have vanished, stepped aside to participate in a higher will. This is non-doing or true doing, where we connect with the higher and allow the higher to become us. We enter the Great Self of the universe, becoming a particle of the Sacred. We let the Sacred see through our eyes and hear through our ears, and in the case of flowing action, the Sacred acts through our body. Because our sense of separateness has disappeared, we are left in perfect unity.

In the depths of meditative prayer, we let go to open at our core, in a supplication that invites, begs the Sacred to enter our being through that opening in our will. In this most intimate act, there is obviously no room for any self, other than the Great Self, Who works both sides, as the One Who opens and the One Who enters. We take this formulation not as a fantasy or as a notion relevant only to others, but as a prescription for our own deepest inner work. In it, we directly confront the issue of who we are and Who we could be.

For this week, please practice non-doing in action and opening to the Great Self.


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