Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of April 9, 2007

Shifting into Reverse: Tracing Back the Radiance

By shifting into neutral, we have earned the freedom to shift into reverse, to begin backing out of personality, out of our mask, and toward the sacred depths. Rather than always driving forward, always trying to control and fill our life and ourselves with more of what we want, we take time to back off, to empty ourselves. In that emptying we make room for the sacred, we invite the Higher to enter us, to become us. At least for those moments of emptying, the truest form of prayer, we offer ourselves in service to the sacred. Such worship cleanses our heart and allows the Higher to enter the world through us.

But not obvious is how to get our bearings in the vast, neutral stillness of consciousness and move from there into reverse, toward the Higher. The 12th century Korean Zen master Chinul coined a beautiful phrase that captures the process: tracing back the radiance. The key insight consists in recognizing that the deeper we go into ourselves the closer we come to our identity with the Divine. We ask who am I? and move toward the answer.

Our will, our attention, our intention, arise from our ultimate self. To shift into reverse, we open back in the direction of our self, our I, the source of our will. Finding this direction is subtle but possible, and requires persistence. The search itself purifies us.

So after shifting into neutral, meditating in the great inner temple of peace and consciousness, we use our new-found freedom to search for our deepest self. We follow the roots of our I back toward our Divine source. This search is our worship. Indeed, a brief and repeated invocation or prayer, one close and meaningful to us, can help. Each time we inwardly say the prayer, we use it to beg humbly with our entire being, to ask to enter the sacred.

For this week practice shifting into reverse by tracing back the radiance.


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