Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the weeks of January 15 & 22, 2018

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Climbing Jacob's Ladder

(Introduction)

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth,
and the top of it reached to heaven:
and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

(Genesis 28:12)

Jacob's dream of a ladder to heaven vividly captures our imagination. Do we dare look for that ladder and climb it? Spiritual paths aim to serve as that ladder, with milestones or stages that might constitute its rungs. Usually though, those milestones and stages serve only as markers along the way, not the actual rungs that support our climb up the ladder. Each rung is a new level of being, a place to stand in our inner world. Some sets of spiritual practices maintain us at our level of being, our way of living and experiencing. Other sets of practices help us climb from our current level of being to the next. And these sets of practices overlap.

Each level of being can be characterized by a particular class of inner energies natural to it. We could even say that the substance of each level of being is its characteristic energy. These energies we call Sensitive, Conscious, Creative, Unitive, and Transcendent. In this series on Climbing Jacob's Ladder, we will address these levels, these rungs of the ladder.

As an additional organizing principle, we will engage Noel Burch's four stages of learning. The first is unconsciously ineffective, where we do not know about or even recognize that there is something to learn in a particular domain. For example, we do not yet realize that two numbers can be multiplied. The second is consciously ineffective, where we realize that we have something to learn, but are as yet unable to put it into practice at will. We understand what multiplication is, but not how to do it. The third is consciously competent, where we have learned the skill well enough to put it into practice, but only with effort and intention. We can multiply two numbers, but only after thinking carefully about the correct result. The fourth stage is unconsciously competent, where what we have learned has become an integral part of us, our new normal, so that we act from it without active effort, intention, or trying. We multiply numbers easily and immediately.

These learning stages, as we shall see, certainly apply to our climb up Jacob's Ladder. The first simply describes our situation at the beginning of each rung: we do not even know that it exists. We find that our perceptions fail us when it comes to the energies. We do not perceive them. We do not understand what they are. To move past this first stage takes work, specific types of inner work to open our perceptions, depending on which rung of the ladder is next up for us. Even after we can reliably recognize the sensitive energy, we still may not notice the conscious energy, and so on up the ladder, because each rung, each energy has its own unique nature, unlike the rest. So we are constrained to work primarily on one rung at a time as the leading edge of our climb, though we do not drop the practices of the rungs below it.

After learning to perceive a particular level of energy, we can engage with it, learn to work it, become proficient with it, and increase our contact with it to the stage of learning to live in it. Each such change transforms our life in its own way; we feel as if an entirely new world is opening to us. The climb is not only a deeply meaningful way of life, but also a thrilling adventure.

In the coming weeks, we can embark together.

    1. Sensitive Energy Awareness
    2. Sensitive Energy Practice
    3. Living in the Sensitive Energy
    4. Conscious Energy Awareness
    5. Conscious Energy Practice
    6. Living in the Conscious Energy
    7. Touching the Creative Purity
    8. Creating Ourselves
    9. Discovering Ourselves
    10. The Essence of Prayer
    11. The Sacred Radiance
    12. The Sacred Ocean of Oneness
    13. The Sacred Mountain of Purpose
    14. Love


        

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