Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For week of May 2, 2016

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Awakened Presence

(Modes of Presence 5)

There is a simple version of awakening, one comes to us more often than we might think. One moment we are lost in thoughts or a TV show or whatever, and the next moment here we are, as ourselves, in ourselves, aware of body, mind, heart, and surroundings. This is not our grand image of Awakening, seeing the angels in heaven. Rather it is an almost ordinary experience of suddenly, inexplicably, without any intention or action on our part, coming back to ourselves, to being ourselves. The sense that this is almost ordinary lulls us into discounting the significance of such moments, with the result that too often we let these awakenings pass, while we quickly fall back into half-awareness.

Awakened Presence may be triggered by some random impression from our surroundings, or by some not so random impression, such as viewing a great work of art, hearing music that reaches into us, seeing a beautiful scene in nature, coming into contact with an inspiring person or someone we love. There are also the presence triggers that we intentionally develop. And sometimes there may not be any apparent trigger: out of the blue we just come back into ourselves.

In any case, here we are, more awake than we were just a moment ago. We can, and usually do, just enjoy it, relishing the luster it reveals in our life. Then we coast on that enjoyment, but not without a consequence: we let this sudden presence dissipate and dissolve.

That happens because we may not recognize the moment of presence for what it is and do not realize that we could intentionally strengthen and sustain it. Or we do recognize the moment for what it is, and fail to make something of it. If we do recognize the awakening when it comes and if we do so choose, we can step into this unintentional, momentary awakening, and transform it into intentionally active or sustaining presence, thereby stretching the duration of our presence. The awakening comes as a gift and an opportunity. Our inner work is to put it to good use by extending and deepening our awakened presence.

For that, we use the methods of presence, such as sensing our body, feeling our emotional state, being cognizant of our mind and other perceptions, not-identifying with any of that, and being ourselves, the one who is here seeing what we see and doing what we do.

This unbidden, random awakening raises us temporarily out of our state of half-awareness, and suddenly here we are. Being here again is not ordinary, but does seem normal. It is normal, or should be normal, because that state of full awareness and being the one who is aware is the fully human state. It also seems normal because it is timeless. So that when we are relatively present, it seems like we have always been this way. And when we are our in ordinary state of non-presence, we do not notice how we are. This leads to the illusion that we are always present. If only.

Our work for this week then, is to notice when we do awaken, to realize that moment of awakening for the gift and opportunity that it is, to realize that it is not our ordinary state, and to value it accordingly. Instead of being half-alive, we are fully alive, at least for that moment. And then once we have noticed and valued our moment of presence, we make something of it, not let it, not let ourselves, slip away so easily. We work to stay present, to extend and deepen our presence. We rise into life and we stay alive. Inevitably, we do slip back. But just as inevitably, another opportunity will arise.


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