Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 16, 2020


Finding Yourself

(A Meaningful Life: 1)

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At a certain point in our lives, many of us start to wonder who we really are and what we really want out of life. In effect, we begin trying to find ourselves. The single biggest problem with that quest is its fuzzy nature. What would it mean to find ourselves? If we came across ourselves, would we even know it? Would we be pleased with what we found?

As for what we want out of life, how do we know what we want until we actually have it? We may have a goal, but find that achieving it does not satisfy our thirst. Maybe that was the wrong goal. Maybe we have multiple competing and contradictory goals. Or maybe we just need a single worthy goal, one that is open-ended and provides us something to work toward, provides us meaningful and thereby satisfying work. But how do we find that goal? And even if we do, there are the inevitable ups and downs, twists and turns, detours and delays, so that the goal has to be powerful enough and meaningful enough to sustain us through all that. And there is the intrusion of necessity, of earning a living and fulfilling our many obligations, which seem to multiply as we go through life.

Running through the whole quest of finding ourselves is the inherent uncertainty and the doubt it engenders. Is this really, finally me? Is this what I really want? Is this my life's work?

The fear of being nothing drives much of the search for ourselves. When we start to look for ourselves, it can be because of some hidden intuition that, just maybe, we are not anything. So we look to fill that emptiness with things and with recognition from other people. If I acquire enough things and if people think I'm something, then certainly I must be something, even if I'm afraid to look inside myself, afraid to see that I am nothing.

But that nothing turns out to be the overflowing source of everything. We find it in the silence, in the stillness behind our automatic thoughts and reactive emotions. There we can let go of all the competing, contradictory desires, let go, at least for those precious moments, of all our desires, let go of who we thought we were.

And we can just be. Free and whole. And there we find ourselves. Because even in that stillness, devoid of desire, we are. When every impulse, thought, emotion, and desire is gone, what is left is us. We see and we know that I am seeing; we know that I am here. We know that we are the one who occupies this stillness, who occupies our life, who lives our life, who sees what we see, says what we say, and does what we do.

This coming into ourselves, allows us to delve even deeper. By opening beyond ourselves, beyond the stillness, we open to that overflowing cornucopia of the spirit. Here nothing is lacking. The emptiness has become fullness. The part has become the whole.

What stands in the way of finding ourselves? Primarily, that we get sidetracked into believing we are something other than who we actually are: our body, our thoughts, our emotions, our ego, our habits, our skills, our resume, our job, our family role, our things, our money, etc.

The I that we are is our will. The main difficulty we have in coming into our will is that it is not a thing. We cannot touch it or point to it. It is not a part or even all of our brain, or our body. It is who uses our brain and body. So it seems elusive and insubstantial, even invisible, because it does not belong to time, space, and materiality. Will has it own dimension orthogonal to time and space. Nevertheless, the more we work with and as our will, the more we come into it, and the more its immaterial substantiality becomes clear to us. This opens a whole new domain. It begins in understanding that intentional attention is will and in the practice of intentionally being our attention.

For this week, please practice being your attention and see whether and how that relates to who you really are, especially in your quieter moments.


        

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