Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of January 14, 2013

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Affirming Presence

(Learning to Be: Part 9)

There is a qualitative difference between bouncing through our life on autopilot, as we do, and being fully engaged in what we’re doing or perceiving in this moment, between letting life happen to us and feeling “I am doing this.” This is not just about the big things, the long-term plans and major projects. It applies to the particulars of our life, to each event, to each moment.

So how do we get engaged, get involved? It begins with attention. The secret quality of attention is that it is driven by our will, it is our will. The practice of active attention is the road to coming into our own, our own will, our I. When you pay attention to what you are doing or seeing or touching or thinking, your I is there; it is you who are doing or seeing or touching or thinking. Not paying attention, allowing our attention to be drawn hither and thither, to be distracted easily, with no staying power, indicates that we are not here, that our I has withdrawn beyond our reach. We can learn to affirm our life, our living, our presence.

And we do that first by affirming our attention, by being our attention. It may sound abstract, but the actual practice of it is simple. We just pay attention to what we are doing and/or perceiving and we get fully behind that attention. We are there attending, wholly and completely, simply and directly. If you try this, you may see that you can do it. You may see how it is different than letting your attention just wander wherever it is drawn. We bring our power, the power of our will, our I, into our attention. We become our attention for that moment. Though it is simple, this is not so easy to maintain moment-to-moment over time. To do so, we need to continually renew our attention and our being in it.

Closely related to this is another form of will, namely intention or purpose. We can affirm ourselves, affirm our presence by living with intention, living with purpose. That intention includes the intention to be, the will-to-be, in any given moment, as well as larger scale intentions and purposes that go beyond this moment. But one significant purpose is to be, to be present. Living with intention generally, living with purpose, helps us with that. We can live. We can live as purpose. We can be the bearer of purpose, we can be that purpose. Because our purpose, our intention, is the embodiment of our will, our I, it can be the embodiment of a higher will, which we will address in the next part of this inner work series.

We start with paying attention in more situations and for longer; we sustain it. There are degrees of attention, distinguished primarily by how much we are behind it, into it. There is a big difference between half-hearted attention that only half engages us and wholehearted, unreserved attention that we affirm, that we fully agree to. Here I am, doing this. The affirmation of presence is not a thought: it is an act of will. By affirming our attention in this way, we affirm ourselves, we affirm the core of our presence. We take responsibility for our presence in this life, in this moment, responsibility for doing what we are doing, not in an abstract way in our thoughts, but in real way: we are here as the one who is doing what we are doing. We are our attention, our purpose, our intention in this moment. Without us, without someone at home, without our I, we have no presence. With our I, we are present.

Affirming our presence in this way connects us, our I, with what’s around us; it connects our inner world with the outer world as one continuum, one great whole. Here we are in the midst of this, our life, our world. For this week, affirm your presence. Be the one who is here, living your life in each moment.

See Also: Stages of Inner Unity: I


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