Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of June 1, 2020

Preparing to Serve

(Serving Our World Soul: 3)

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To serve the World Soul directly, inwardly, requires preparation, spiritual preparation. The quality of our inner service depends on the quality of our being and the purity of our will: the advancement of each is open-ended, with ever greater degrees possible. Thus, our preparation for inner service is a lifelong process, which runs in parallel with actual inner service. We do what we can now, while we work to be able to do more later.

Indeed, our preparations to serve constitute inner service themselves. In these preparations, we train in generating inner energies and in integrating and purifying our will, all of which helps both ourselves and the wider world. Inner service builds on inner service. The more we serve, the more we can serve. And spiritual training itself is service. So, we need not think of inner service as something we will do in the future, when we are ready. It is open to us now, as we are, where we are.

Inner service consists of concentrating and transforming spiritual energies and harmonizing our will with the Global Will. Spiritual exercises are the prime way that we can participate in the energy work. The more we practice the exercises, the more we become able to engage in them. The deeper exercises, which concern the higher energies, require even more practice. An important component of the practices consists of learning new perceptions that open us to the world of energies.

One way to categorize the practices is by the energies they involve. Though the energies form a hierarchy of levels, the spiritual path is not linear. We work at several levels, even in the beginning, including the sensitive energy, the conscious energy, and the energy of the Sacred Light. While spiritual practices generally involve several levels of inner energy, most practices primarily address one level. We turn now to the specifics of some energy practices.

Our work with the sensitive energy takes place mainly in the practice of body awareness, more specifically through sensing our body. By putting and keeping our attention in a part of our body, for example in our right hand, for a few minutes, the sensitive energy begins to accumulate there. Our perception of the hand grows more alive, more vibrant. If we then compare our perceptions of our right hand and our left hand, we may notice that our contact with our right hand is much richer. What we are experiencing there is the sensitive energy. Behind the scenes, our attention brings some of the conscious energy to our hand, where it blends with the automatic energy already present throughout our body, transforming some of that automatic energy into sensitive energy. As we hold our attention in place, this blending process generates sensitive energy in our hand.[1] We call this sensing our right hand.

Gradually and with attention, we extend this to the rest of our body. We sense our right foot, then our left foot, left hand, right arm, right leg, left leg, and left arm. Once we have a clear perceptual contact with sensing our limbs, we extend it into our torso and head, without trying to sense individual inner organs, so as not to interfere with their automatic functioning.

Practicing whole body sensing gives us a degree of wholeness. As a beneficial and intended side effect, the sensitive energy spills over into our mind and heart. We become more vividly and clearly aware of the thoughts and images in our mind and of our emotions. We become more complete in another way: in reclaiming our body, our heart, and our mind from their automatic and reactive patterns.

We can engage in the exercise of sensing during our morning sittings. We can also work with sensing during our day, at any time that allows us enough free attention to safely sense our body. The more we work with sensitive energy in our body, mind, and heart, the stronger it becomes. We aim our training toward living in robust, full body sensation at all times.

One obvious result of sensing practice is that we become more in contact with our life, experiencing everything more vividly. Another result is that we become a little freer, not as prone to falling into reactive emotions, not as prone to being lost in automatic mental ruminations. We are more here and more alive, more available to the simple joy of living.

A prime approach to the conscious energy is through meditation. We find a quiet place (or failing that, a good pair of earplugs). We sit in simple awareness of whatever arises in that awareness, letting it all come and go. Bodily sensations come and go. Sounds come and go. Thoughts and emotions come and go. We do not follow or go with any of it. We sit in stillness, cognizant stillness, watching.

Letting everything come and go means not identifying with any of it. The thoughts are not my thoughts. I am not thinking them. They are thinking themselves. They are just passing by. The emotions are not my emotions, not what I feel. They are generating themselves by some embedded program of reaction. They are just emotions. And we are just here, seeing it all.

Then an interesting thing happens, interesting but subtle. So subtle and seemingly ordinary that we might not even recognize its importance. Space opens within our awareness. The thoughts slow down enough to allow noticeable gaps between them. At first it seems as if there is nothing in those gaps. But that nothing is very special. It is pure awareness. It is pure awareness. It is the cognizant stillness, consciousness itself.

We enter the space between and around thoughts. We enter that boundless cognizant space and abide in it. If our mind stays focused on thoughts, images, and emotions, then we widen our inner field of view, like zooming out a wide-angle lens, to open to the cognizant space surrounding those thoughts, images, and emotions. We learn the taste of being in that inner space. We discover that consciousness is always here. Thoughts, emotions, and sensory perceptions may come fast and loud, but they are surrounded by the stillness. They are displayed on the stillness. We are in this consciousness. This conscious energy surrounds us, as a wide, borderless, spacious, cognitive substance. It carries the qualities of peace, equanimity, wholeness, and omnipresence.

We practice opening to consciousness during our day, not only on the meditation cushion. We find that full body sensation helps stabilize us in consciousness. Some find that the inner sound of Om resonates with the silent ground of awareness, helping them orient to that. We aim our training toward living in consciousness.

The energy of the Sacred Light is at a deeper level still, beyond consciousness. How can we open to that? For this there can be no partial measures. We need to come with the whole of ourselves, all in, with body, mind, heart, and will. And we need to come empty-handed, with longing in our heart, longing for completion, longing for the Sacred. The stronger that need, the more it purifies and empties us, and the more room it makes for the Sacred to enter, to open to us.

Prayer can help because it puts us closer to a right relationship with the Sacred. We are accustomed to being active in our will, to being the doer. This is necessary but insufficient. We need also to be receptive. We direct that receptivity, aiming it like a dish antenna of longing toward the Sacred. So we are both active and receptive in our will. We move toward harmony with the Sacred. And when the harmony is right our whole being resonates with the Sacred, with the Light. We let it fill us.

Harmony and resonance also refer to sound. We can employ words or melodies to help open our yearning heart. We can work with one of the many names of the Sacred or a melody that evokes the Sacred. We choose one that calls to us, that resonates with us. We let it guide us beyond our mind, beyond consciousness, and into the Light. We let the Light touch us, infuse us, and warm us, inside and out. We abide in the Light. We become the Light.

Here is how the great 13th century Christian mystic John Ruusbroec put it: "Through this divine light… they see, feel, and find themselves to be the same simple ground from out of which the resplendence shines… Through an eternal act of gazing accomplished by means of the inborn light, they are transformed and become one with that same light with which they see and which they see… they contemplate God and all things without distinction in a simple act of seeing in the divine resplendence." [2]

These practices, which open us to the sensitive, conscious, and Sacred Light energies, prepare us for the even more direct service of concentrating and transforming those energies for the World Soul. The more consistently and devotedly we take up these practices, the more thorough our preparation and the deeper our service. Even if a practice is beyond our current capability, our efforts and intention matter, for they do generate energies just as we are, and they move us toward the perfection. Meditative practices may be about mental health and personal happiness, but are also much more than that. We are much more than that. In this preparation we develop our soul to serve as a portal through which the Sacred can touch all life with Peace, Light, and Love.

For this week and onward, please begin or renew or redouble your inner work along these lines. The Earth needs you.

[1] For more on transforming energies see The Cascade of Energies

[2] From The Spiritual Espousals, Book Three, Part Three B in "John Ruusbroec: The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works" translation by James A. Wiseman, Paulist Press 1985.


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