Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice



When we ask “Who am I?” the answer eludes us, because it lies in the realm of will. When we ask “What am I?” the answer belongs to the realm of being. Sometimes we just sit and be; we have a sense of our own being, of our inner collectedness, of what we are. We also sense that our being waxes and wanes; we can be, more or less strongly with more or less stability. Extrapolating, we see that being can grow. While our body weakens with age, our being can strengthen, especially if we persevere in our inner work.

We can most readily understand being through its role in determining the quality and subtlety of our perceptions: how aware we are and the kinds of things that can enter our awareness. To what degree am I aware of my body, my thoughts, and my emotions? Do I perceive other people as people, in the same sense that I am a person? Am I aware of my own presence, of being here in this moment? Am I aware of the Divine presence, the Always Here? These perceptual states and abilities change throughout the day and even more over the years.

Our being fuels our perceptions and depends in turn on the quality, quantity, and organization of our inner energies.

The quality dimension of being refers to whether we operate primarily on the automatic level of energy, or on the sensitive, the conscious, and so on up. With the automatic energy we are only half-aware of the world around us and inside us. With the sensitive energy we open to the reality of our outer environment as well as our inner world. With the conscious energy we discover a global, holistic view of life, a view not as bound to our usual self-centric, time-based orientation. With the energies beyond consciousness we open to creativity, love, and the higher spiritual realms. As our being grows and we ascend the levels of energy, we find new modes of perception which subsume the lower modes.

The available quantity of any particular energy also has a crucial effect on how we live and experience. The more of an energy we have, the longer we can experience and the wider the reach of our perceptions at the level of that energy. More of an energy also means more inner stability and a responsive container for the next higher energy. That container of energies is our being.

The degree of organization of our personal reservoir of energies is the third factor of being. The more consciousness is available to us and the less it is mixed up with, lost in, and driven by our sensory experience, the more we can be.

All spiritual practices depend on and affect our energies and thereby our being. Some practices raise the quality of our energies, some the quantity, some organize our energies, and some do all three. The U.S. Army’s recruiting slogan “be all you can be” works very well as a motto for those aspects of the spiritual path that concern transformation of our being and formation of our soul.

While being certainly has its own intrinsic value, its true significance lies in its role as the enabling medium for will to act in the world. Being is the transmitter of perception and action. Perceptions flow from the perceived through being to the perceiver. Actions flow from the actor through being to the acted upon. Recalling the saying of the great 14th century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, that God “is a nothingness beyond being,” we recognize that the ultimate, universal actor is God.

Because we can only act effectively in regions where our perceptions operate, will depends on the perceptual abilities provided by our being. As our being grows in strength and subtlety, so does the reach of our actions. We cannot act on what we cannot perceive. As a consequence, the level of our actions depends on the level of our being. Thus, a central requirement for a truly fulfilling and effective life is to be more.

Spirituality engages both perception and action, being and will. The deeper our being, the less easily we are entranced by the multitude of inappropriate, destructive, or unbecoming impulses passing through us. Furthermore, the deeper our being, the more possibility we have of opening to the higher energy of love and compassion. In the peaceful pool of being, we can more readily recognize the voice of conscience. Thus, growth in being, in what we are, enables purification of our actions, our will. A person of great being is a person of great heart and a refuge to whom others can turn in the storms of life. So we work very hard (frequently, deeply, and with duration) to be more.

See Also: Learning to Be and One Being



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