Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of: June 24, 2002

First Response

Whenever any inner or outer perception or event arises, our immediate response categorizes it as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. This occurs as a gut level, visceral reaction to the perception.  Judgments, aversion, and attachment all follow close on the heels of this first response. In the Buddha's Chain of Dependent Origination, our immediate response to perception defines the point at which we can either break the chain of suffering or slide into identification, attachment, and suffering.

With the pleasant, do you immediately fall toward the grasping desire to extend it beyond its natural time? With the unpleasant, do you immediately fall into aversion, wanting to end it before its time? With the neutral, do you ignore it, become bored, and fall asleep? In all three ways, inner and outer events push the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral buttons of our conditioning to automatically elicit our pre-programmed reactions. No consciousness required: this all runs on the lower energies.

But seeing the truth of how this operates in our own psyche and, through seeing, finding some freedom from the chain does require consciousness. It also requires the intention to seek freedom rather than habitually and unconsciously succumbing to our robotic first response of pursuing the pleasant, avoiding the unpleasant, and ignoring the neutral.

We stand alert at the inner gate of our senses, noticing our first response to each new item. That noticing is the seed of freedom, for it opens the opportunity to let the response pass without drawing us into attachment and identification. For this week, notice your direct, pre-verbal reaction to what your senses bring you and let that reaction pass.



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