Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For week of September 28, 2015

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Being Conscious

(Presence Tools: 11)

After we sit in meditation for a while, our thoughts and sensory perceptions slow down, our body settles into sitting without moving and without the urge to fidget, our emotions quiet down. We seem enter a zone characterized by a lack of action and perception, as if we were asleep. Yet we are not asleep. We are wide awake in this stillness, this quietness, this peace. Very gradually, we come to realize that there is more here than a mere absence of what we are accustomed to see, think, and feel, more here than just the absence of tensions and stress. We begin to suspect that the stillness and our awareness of it are aspects of something, not just nothing.

But this something is very different. It is not a thought, but more like the capacity to perceive thoughts. It is not an emotion, but more like the capacity to have emotions. It is not a bodily or other sensory perception, but more like the capacity to perceive our senses. It is the blank screen on which our life unfolds, the blank screen that comes alive in displaying all the contents, all the details and events of our life. Under all our perceptions, there is this blank screen.

We give this cognitive stillness the name of consciousness. It is a form of inner energy without boundaries. It has the qualities of stillness, peace, and equanimity in our body, mind, and heart. But its preeminent quality is cognition, the general capacity to perceive. By turning our consciousness back on itself, we can perceive it. To do that, we simply relax back into this inner stillness and rest there, fully alert to this unfamiliar space.

In this vast, inner spaciousness, we have room to spread out. Without boundaries, we have nothing to shape or defend. Fully cognizant in this inner, pre-sensory space, we just are.

With practice, we can learn to be in that consciousness, to be in that inwardly free space, even while we also perceive our ordinary senses and act in the midst of life. Consciousness is always here in us, if we can but remain open to it. We can live our life fully, while residing in consciousness. Again and again we lose contact with that cognizant stillness, that pre-sensory spaciousness. Again and again we re-enter it.

For this week, please be conscious, be in the cognitive substrate behind all experience.


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