Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of August 31, 2020

Choice: The Quantum of Will

(The Ladder of Will: 4)

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We can develop will, the core of who we are, by exercising the power of choice. We focus here on choice because it is the fundamental building block of will, the quantum of will. We call it a quantum to remind us that will is not material but impacts the material world through the intermediary of energies. If we wish to become ourselves, we need something to become and that something is will: thus, the importance of developing will.

We may believe that our will is in fine condition, that we make wise, farsighted, optimal, and consistent choices all the time. Perhaps. But here we are not addressing the quality of our choices, their wisdom and so forth. We address our ability to choose at all and to make that choice effective. We also explore, through the lens of choice, some of the different ways that will works in us.

We can define choice as the act of selecting from options, including the option not to choose and the option to create more options. Rather abstract. To make it a little more real, we note some of the types of choices that are particularly relevant to our spiritual inner work and to becoming ourselves:

  • Attention: an ongoing, continuous choice to focus our awareness and be in contact with the object in focus
  • Decision: a binding choice made with the whole of ourselves
  • Letting go: the choice to release the grip some inner factor has on us
  • Opening: the choice to be receptive
  • Acceptance: the choice to consent or include; opposite of reject
  • Presence: the ongoing, continuous choice to be
  • Participation: the choice to act from ourselves with the whole of ourselves
  • Intention: the choice to adopt and live by a particular purpose
  • Non-Doing: the choice to allow an action to occur through us, yet as us, without interfering

Our spiritual practice, to be more fruitful, needs to incorporate all of these and more ways of working with and as will. Yet the prerequisite for all of them is that we be in a state in which we are able to choose. When we are operating on autopilot, we cannot choose. Any "choices" made in that state are illusory; they are pre-programmed, automatic, habitual choices, which are not choices at all. A real choice cannot be entirely conditioned: there must be at least of modicum of freedom.

Our work with various inner exercises up to this point, helps us notice how we are in a given moment, helps us see and understand the difference between operating on autopilot and being awake in presence. Through our inner work we know when we are able to choose and we know how to come into such a state. It is mainly about coming into the here and now, and being relatively free, not completely lost in or driven by thoughts, or emotions, or desires.

A simple test is: can I put my attention on something and hold it there for more than a moment? This gives us a measure of our ability to choose in that moment. This act of intentional attention, continuously extended for a time, is also a simple yet powerful method of developing will. And when we notice that our attention has wavered, we just bring it back to the chosen object and hold it there, in a relaxed manner. This ongoing, continuous choice of focusing awareness and being in contact, awakens us in that moment and strengthens our will.

Attention and the other examples of inner choices offer us a direct way to develop will. That development matters because will is not obvious, is not readily noticed or seen, and is elusive. Yet will is central to who we are: it is who we are.

For this week, please choose to cultivate will.


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