Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the weeks of November 30 & December 7, 2020

Conscious Energy Practice

(The Ladder of Being: 6)

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At the core of our experience of being, simply being, there is stillness, a quiet awareness, empty and free, an awareness prior to what our senses bring it. This pure awareness is in its own way substantive, a substance we call the conscious energy. Inner energies are not material substances in the usual sense, but our experience of them can nevertheless be substantive. The conscious energy has spacelike qualities, in that it is boundless and we are in it. That energy also has field-like qualities, in that it fills space. Like most energies, consciousness can be concentrated or compressed. The most recognizable quality of the conscious energy is its cognitive stillness. Awareness is its very nature. Its inherent openness allows that awareness to be shaped by and responsive to whatever comes into it.

Notice that consciousness is not the same as sensitivity or our sensory impressions. Those are two different levels of energy: the sensitive and the conscious. Consciousness is the screen of pure awareness onto which the sensitive energy displays our senses.

The conscious energy is so fundamental to us, that we overlook it, like fish in water or like us surrounded by air that we do not notice. But in quiet meditation, after our thoughts settle down, we are left in open stillness. As we sit and soak in that stillness, we begin to see that it is aware, that it is our awareness. We also begin to see its substantive nature, an ethereal, gel-like consistency somewhere between space and water.

With our attention and intention, we can control the sensitive energy, moving it around, to different parts of our body, for example. Because it is at a higher level, the conscious energy enables us to control the sensitive energy. But also because it is at a higher level, the conscious energy itself is much less under our control, though not entirely beyond our influence. The most obvious way we control consciousness is through the simple act of paying attention. When we pay attention, our will entrains the conscious energy, concentrating it, while focusing it onto the object of our attention. The result is greater awareness of whatever we are paying attention to. This means that, in our inner work, when we focus our attention on something, we are bringing the conscious energy to bear on that, even without being directly aware of the energies at play in that action.

That is why, for example, when we put and hold our attention on part of our body, we experience the sensitive energy accumulating there. The conscious energy brought by our attention is blending with the automatic energy already present in our body, to produce the energy between them: the sensitive energy. This is the higher blending with the lower to actualize the middle, which is Gurdjieff's representation of how the law of three operates.

Another consequence for our inner work occurs when we fill our body with robust sensation, perhaps from energy breathing of the active elements in the air, and we simultaneously inhabit our body, filling the whole of it with our attention, with ourselves, with our will to be. This action, especially when sustained, brings the conscious energy into contact with the sensitive energy and, when followed with non-effort, allows the two an opportunity to settle, blend, and gel into a new and more stable substance, the substance of our soul.

Through our work with the conscious energy, through steeping ourselves in the cognizant stillness and acquiring the clear taste of it, we come to recognize that consciousness is everywhere, always, and that we are in it. We see that it is possible for us to open into consciousness at any time. Usually, we are so distracted by surface phenomena, by what we are doing at the moment, by our thoughts and emotional reactions, and by our senses, that consciousness stays hidden from us. But it is more accurate to say we are hiding from it, by narrowing our view and looking elsewhere. Thoughts and the rest do not necessarily preempt consciousness. That happens only if we allow it to, usually by default.

But we can be in our inner depth, in that silent awareness beneath our thoughts, at the same time as the thought trains are running. Indeed, from the vantage of cognizant stillness, we can see our thoughts more clearly, notice that they are just thoughts, that they are just sounds or images in our mind, representing concepts or memories. From the cognizant stillness, we can see that the actual event in that moment is our awareness and the thought. We are not taken out of the present into the conceptual domain of whatever the thought points to. Here we are, in peace and immediate awareness.

As we continue to work with the conscious energy, through meditation, through active inner exercises, gradually and without fanfare, perhaps even unnoticed, it starts to play a larger role in our life. We begin to live more and more consciously. We see that consciousness can and does coexist with thoughts, emotions, and all the goings-on of life. Our work is to relax back into consciousness as we go about our day. To let it be and let ourselves be.

For this week, please open to the consciousness that is already in you and around you.


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