Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of February 13, 2017

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Cognitive Space

(Opening to Oneness 2)

The close relationship between consciousness and space creates a door to oneness. Consider the characteristics shared by space and consciousness. They both permeate everything and everywhere. That is more or less obvious for space: more because we know it to be true in theory, and less because we do not direct our perceptions toward space itself, toward the space that we and everything around us occupy, nor to the space that exists between us and everything else.

Space is the unifying framework that holds all that exists. Space is one. Though we may put up walls, we do not really divide space: it is an indivisible unity. We may measure it and stars may bend it, but there are no particles of space or at least physicists have not yet discovered them. In any case, space does have the whole universe in its unifying embrace. Indeed the prefix uni in universe comes from the one boundless space that defines the extent of the universe.

The previous practice in this series, which we called the Vision of Oneness, can open us to the perception of space itself. When we become aware of the whole of our immediate environment, we can extend that awareness to include the space that underpins all of it, that affords it breadth and depth and height. The wholeness of our environment is even more complete and more intimate with the perception of the space within and around us. We are wrapped in space, embedded in space. We move and live in space. And so does everything and everyone else. While on the surface, space separates everything, on a deeper level space connects everything. We all share the one space that reaches throughout the universe.

How about consciousness? Do we know that consciousness permeates everything and everywhere? Do we perceive that directly?

In quiet meditation, we hear our thoughts coming and going. As our mind settles somewhat, we begin to notice the gaps between thoughts. Those gaps are not just empty silence; they reveal what is underneath thought, no longer obscured or hidden by thought. What is underneath, behind, and around our thoughts is pure awareness, which we call consciousness, the cognizant stillness within us. It is always there. Thoughts do not obscure it, unless we allow them to distract us from the great contextual awareness around them. Passing clouds do not replace the sky.

As we grow familiar with this cognizant silence around our thoughts, we notice its spacious and unbounded nature. Because it has no boundaries, we perceive that consciousness does not stop at our skin; it is everywhere, like space. So not only is consciousness in us, we are in consciousness.

This is the true nature of consciousness, a marriage between pure awareness and space: cognitive space. All our sensory perceptions, including thoughts and emotions, display on the screen of consciousness. It is always here, always available, always aware. In consciousness we find oneness, the embrace of the cognitive space in which we live and move. The challenge for us is to learn to be available, to open to the cognitive space in and around us, to live in the great ocean of consciousness.

So in our sitting and as we go about our day, we can practice entering the pure awareness behind thoughts, emotions, sensations, sounds, and all other sensory perceptions. A step further and we practice being consciousness itself, being boundless. We are that. And as consciousness, we also become space. So we are this one cognitive space that includes everything. We are this oneness.

For this week, please practice entering and being the cognitive space.


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