Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the weeks of June 6 and 13, 2016

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Connected Presence

(Modes of Presence 9)

There are several levels of being connected with others. At one level, we feel that we ourselves are connected with the other person, I connect with you. I am here and you are there and we relate to each other as people, equally people, separate but connected, boundaries intact.

At the deepest level of connection, there is unity of will. This occurs, for example, in a true and totally committed marriage. We also find it in the relationship between a loving parent and their child, where the parent's wish, commitment, and actions invariably serve the welfare of the child, even at the expense of the parent's own welfare. There are cases of such unity of will among soldiers in battle, within a high-functioning team, and in some instances of communal worship.

Connect Presence resides at an in-between but still profound level of connection: you and I merge into the one consciousness, the one space, the one reality that embraces us both. In this case it no longer seems as if there is a locus of being, namely me, connected with another locus of being, namely you. Instead we are both part of the one being.

At this level we do not need to assert our separateness, our individuality, our uniqueness because we are both part of the Great Unique. We relax into just being and our ego is no longer an issue. In such moments, we do not need to define ourselves, to tout our experiences and abilities. We do not need to impress others or ourselves with how special we are. We just are. And if I am, then you are also. So we are both just being, taking part in a very deep form of connection.

One surprising thing about this connectedness of being: it is not as rare for us as we might imagine. We have moments where the conversation stops and our mind quiets down, we relax and we just are, with others, who occupy the same plenum of consciousness, spaciousness.

For that moment we are not driven by our ego, whose main function is to maintain our separateness. Ego works effectively through our thoughts, convincing us for example that we are our name. But when our thoughts grow quiet for a moment, we temporarily cease believing that we are anything, and we can just be. We do not need to convince ourselves that we exist, that we are something. We can just be. And if I am, then you are also; not as someone separate from me, someone with a different name. No, we are two people beyond name, beyond words or symbols, two people embraced by the one life that flows though all.

How to come toward this connected presence? The key is to be in the stillness when we are with others. The stillness does not demand that we define ourselves or limit who we are. Typically, this can only occur during lulls in the conversation, because speaking and listening usually bring us to the surface of our being, lost in what we are saying or hearing, lost in opinions and attitudes, lost in our self-image, ego, and name. Moments of silence let all that subside. Or, if our presence is strong, we may be able to be in the stillness behind the words even while in conversation. Few of us become monks and take a vow of silence. So unless we make a particular effort, we only come toward connected presence occasionally: the rest of the time connecting in the usual ways, for example by conversation.

When we are in the inner stillness, our inner world expands into the outer world. Our boundaries dissolve and we are connected with all that is around us: people, trees, and everything. We occupy one reality, the spacious consciousness that pervades it all. No need to reach out; we just relax into that. With our personal walls in abeyance, we enter the whole scene. And although there are many other vivid elements of the scene, including other people, the distinctions are overshadowed by the fact that we are here together.

For this week, please practice Connected Presence.

See Also:


Being Your Relationships


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