Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of October 19, 2020

The Ladder of Being


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Just as there is a ladder of will, there is also a ladder of being. Will chooses, function implements the choice, and being connects the two through awareness. Will cannot do anything, while functions cannot decide. The energies of awareness enable being to transmit the choices from will to function. For example, we decide to think about a question. Our conscious and sensitive energies enable our will to guide the thoughts generated in our brain by shaping them and transmitting their meaning. Or we decide to go to the next room. The intention activates our energies, which carry the message to initiate patterns of bodily movement that walk us into the next room. When we arrive there, our senses send that news up through our energies, where it is noted by our will, which then sends down our intention of what to do next. In every case, the effective operation of our energies, of our being, is crucial to the overall action.

Spiritually, this holds even more so. To act in the material world we need our physical body. To participate in the higher worlds, we need higher bodies: the bodies of our soul. The lower soul is known by many names including natural, vital, astral, ruach, and second body. The higher soul is also known by many names including spirit, causal, neshamah, and higher being body. Both levels of soul, when complete, consist of organized and blended inner energies. This is being.

This business of the soul raises many questions. The first may go something like: "If I have a soul, I certainly am not aware of it. Do I have a soul?" In our way, the answer is no, we do not have a soul, at least not yet. But by dedicated inner work, we can make one, we can make our second and higher being bodies. Along the way, we transform our lives and serve our world.

Because this matter of soul is so far from our ordinary experience, we need to interject a note here about beliefs. As with Buddhism, we follow the way of understanding. When it comes to spiritual concepts that cannot be readily verified, we may accept them as true, but only tentatively, pending confirmation in our own experience. While those unconfirmed ideas can guide us in our search, the Truth is what we understand for ourselves, in our experience. The rest are hypotheses. Whether we have a soul or not, whether we can develop a soul or not, and whether it consists of two soul bodies or not, remain for us open questions. Yet, these are among the most crucial questions in our life. Do we just assume that we have a soul, though it be beyond our perceptions, and risk finding out otherwise later? Do we dare risk assuming that we do not and cannot have a soul, when it may be possible to develop one?

Let us tentatively accept that, though we may have the potential for one, our soul is at best incomplete and requires persistent inner work to be brought to completion. That process is the spiritual path and, more particularly, the practices that constitute work on being. This entails developing our perceptions of inner energies, generating and organizing those energies, fusing our energies, and purifying how our energies flow. This soul stream of the spiritual path deepens and widens as we persist in it. It opens our hearts, transforms our lives, and benefits the people around us.

The ladder of being is intimately connected with the scale of inner energies. The rung we occupy on that ladder, the level of our being and our spiritual station, depends on the quantity, quality, cohesion, and purity of operation of the energies within us. The energies of primary interest, in ascending order of quality, are called the automatic, the sensitive, the conscious, the sacred light, and the unitive energies.[1]

What about the actual experience of being? This depends on the level, but the fundamental experience is simply to be, just be. That is the primary experience both of presence and of quiet meditation, two major practices for living our lives well, each a real step into the realm of being.

We can consider being as the spiritual infrastructure of the universe. All life shares in being, for every living thing has awareness, however rudimentary it may be. The lower levels of being are wrapped up in themselves, while the higher we go in being, the more expansive and inclusive we are.

In the coming weeks, we will explore the ladder of being and how to climb it. For this week, please look into your own experience of being.

    1. Longing
    2. Responsibility
    3. Sensitive Energy Practice
    4. Self-Discipline: The Promise and the Peril
    5. Consolidation
    6. Conscious Energy Practice
    7. Worship
    8. This is Love
    9. Wisdom

[1] Adapted from J.G. Bennett, Energies: Material, Vital, Cosmic


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