Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of May 10, 2021


Time: Body and Soul

(Long-Form Living: 6)

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Time brings both inevitable decay and ascending possibilities. Left to themselves, under the action of ever-increasing entropy, all things run down. Most glaringly, at least to the elders among us, our bodies run down over the decades. Regardless of how good our genes or how conscientious our healthy lifestyle, the physical decline of old age will impact all who live long enough.

But there is another side to time: as the field of intentional, anti-entropic action. Given an appropriate span of time, we can build something up, create something new. Outwardly, we humans create the innumerable artifacts that populate, support, and shape our lives. This planet-wide engine of creation is truly a wonder that, among its many other benefits, has enabled us to enjoy much longer lifespans than those who came a mere century before us. That longer lifespan permits not only more and varied individual experiences and productiveness, but also more opportunity for the inner work that will create our soul and serve our planet.

For those of us whose intensity of inner work is slow to accelerate to the required tempo, the extra time may help us overcome our dawdling. Whereas in the past, a person might only have 30 or 40 or 50 years to complete their soul, now, depending on our health, we might have 80 or even more years to do so. While that longer life expectancy may lull us into dawdling when it comes to inner work, the inexorable dwindling of our remaining time intensifies the urgency of our efforts. Nevertheless, the extra time has the crucial benefit of allowing for more repetition and exploration; even just plodding along produces something positive.

Inevitably, regardless of how much time we have, it will eventually run out, so we cannot be complacent about stepping up our pace toward fulfilling our spiritual task in this lifetime. Along the way, we develop the capacity to give more: energies, wisdom, love. Even as our body declines, our soul can grow stronger, if we work at it. The spiritual path is not about preparing for death, although it may help us do so, but rather it is about developing the ability to give more, of ourselves, from ourselves, and in collaboration with others.

Whenever we enter a deep state, through a spiritual exercise or meditation, time slows down or even almost stops for the duration. This lengthens our life experience. An hour of sitting meditation does not seem to take an hour out of our day, but rather seems to add time and life to our day. It quiets our mind and makes our experience more vivid. Afterward, more readily present, we seem to have more time, as it passes more slowly and our day grows rich. We live in both time and the timeless simultaneously, body and soul.

As long as we live, we have this possibility of developing and living in our soul. Doing so adds a dimension of depth to our life, like going from a flat image to 3D or from black and white to color. Spiritual meditation in the quiet and presence in activity work hand-in-hand to transform our time and our life. Time grows elastic, stretching out to accommodate the more vivid and meaningful mode of experience brought on by the growing heft of our being. Body and soul converge in the timeless reality of a unified spirit.

In practice, it always comes down to this one moment of time, this here and now. Can we live the timeless depth of this moment? Can we be? Can we be in our whole body, wholeheartedly, mentally unified, focused, and alert? Can this moment, every moment, be the most valuable moment of our life, pregnant with meaning, possibility, and boundless flourishing?

It always comes down to this one moment of time. Will it simply be another moment of the consequences of time or will the soul-enriching timeless prevail? Can I give myself fully to this moment? Can I be this one moment, now and now and now?


     

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