Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the weeks of March 4 & 11, 2019

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Opening to Spiritual Energies

(Spiritual Dynamics: 9)

We receive physical energy by digesting food and air. How do we receive and digest inner, spiritual energies? The first major difference is that while we have ready-made sensory perceptions for ordinary food, our ability to perceive and recognize spiritual energies needs to be developed, intentionally. The second difference is that while ordinary food is digested automatically in our body, without any intentional action on our part, beyond chewing and swallowing, spiritual energies must be digested intentionally. The big similarity is that effort and skill are required to obtain both classes of foods.

The primary way to develop our perceptual capacities for spiritual energies consists of practices that work with specific energies. Through these practices we acquire the "taste" of that energy; we learn to recognize it, open to it, and use it. This creates a spiraling feedback process whereby we gradually gain more and more access to that energy, while also paving the way to open ourselves to the next rung of the energy hierarchy.

All of that begins with the sensitive energy in our body and the practice of sensing. Relaxing into our body, we place and keep our attention in one of our limbs, in an arm or a leg. We notice the limb from inside it. We notice the immediate, actual, visceral experience of the limb, the impressions and sensations from inside that limb. We stay with that experience. After a time, we notice a vibratory aliveness in the limb, a kind of effervescence. That vibratory aliveness, that effervescence, is the sensitive energy. By keeping our attention in that limb, the energy increases, it becomes even more alive.

This is the practice of sensing our body. Continuing along that line, we evolve to being able to sense all four limbs at once, and then to sense our whole body. We also practice breathing the sensitive energy into us from the air, to build up that energy in our body. This feeds our soul and gives us a robust inner platform for our awareness, our presence.

The prime path toward opening our perceptions to the conscious energy runs through meditation: simple, relaxed mindfulness of our inner experience. We watch our thoughts run here and there, noticing how they grab hold of us and take us along with them. That leads to seeing thoughts as just thoughts and to the ability to distinguish between automatic and intentional thoughts.

Often thoughts are randomly generated by association with something we happen to see or hear, or by some mental link whereby one thought leads to another. These we see as automatic thoughts without any intention behind them, without a thinker. Clearly those thoughts are not who we are.

Other thoughts, however, are intentional, like when we ponder a subject or situation, make a plan, or consider our options. Again, though, even these thoughts are not the thinker. All this seeing of our inner world of thoughts frees us from them, makes us less identified with them. That in itself is an enormous blessing. We can let our thoughts run, without ourselves being run by them.

This freedom also opens the door to the cognizant stillness behind and beneath our thoughts. When we can see past our thoughts, we can relax into the boundless ocean of peace, the pure awareness underlying all experience. This is the conscious energy. At first it seems like nothing at all, just empty. Gradually, though, we notice its substantive quality, as the stuff of awareness itself. As our perceptions of it refine, we learn to immerse ourselves in consciousness and live in it. A deep peace suffuses our soul and we begin to open to even higher energies.

So here we have the energy dynamics of inner work. Are we lost in whatever is going on around us, or are we centered in our body awareness? Are we lost in thoughts, or are we abiding in consciousness? These are the ongoing challenges of spiritual inner work, at every moment of every day.


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