Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the weeks of March 18 & 25, 2019

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Working with Spiritual Energies

(Spiritual Dynamics: 10)

Of the many remarkable and surprising ways to engage with spiritual energies, four particularly direct and potent practices stand out:

  1. Body awareness through sensation keeps us grounded in the present moment and less prone to the more difficult and destructive modes of attachment and identification. Placing and keeping attention in our body, first on parts and later on the whole body, is our way of entering this style of practice. This can be greatly enhanced by learning to breathe in the sensitive energy from the air around us to increase our contact with our body through that energy. By being centered in our whole body as we breathe in that energy, we give it a place to land and stabilize. This creates a strong foundation for presence.
  2. At first in extended meditation, we open to the stillness within us, behind and beneath our thoughts, to discover a vast, cognizant continuum, which is the conscious energy, our pure awareness. Coupled with the sensitive energy of body awareness, consciousness serves as the medium in which we can be present. However, we easily become distracted by some stray thought and wander out of consciousness, out of the cognizant stillness. Seeing alone is not enough, because we fall out of it. To stay in that place requires something more of us, namely our attention, our will, and in particular our will to be, to be here and now. As this will-to-be, this I, this core of presence, we suffuse and support consciousness, stabilizing our place in it.
  3. Beyond the stillness, beyond consciousness, there are deeper spiritual realms: firstly the Sacred Light. Here it is up to our yearning and experimentation to enable ourselves to open to that Light, known in Jewish mysticism as the Shekhinah. Perhaps we inwardly repeat a short prayer, like the Jesus Prayer or the Lord's Prayer, or a sacred phrase like the Muslim shahada, or one of the Divine names from Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, or Hebrew. What matters is to find something we relate to, something to act as a catalyst for opening our heart, our entire being to the Sacred, something to enable us to let go, for that moment, of everything other than that opening. And when we do, the Light cascades into us, or us into it. We let this Light, a high and sacred energy, intermingle with the sensitive energy we have prepared throughout our body. This act gives the Light a place to land and feeds our nascent soul.
  4. Standing in the vastness of consciousness, we move beyond it into the spiritual depth, allowing the higher will to be us, to enter us from within. As put by Jan Van Ruusbroec from a Christian perspective: "Christ comes to us from within outward, while we come to him from without inward."[1] Again, letting go of all else, to engage solely in this opening with purity of spirit, is the way. Any self-seeking or self-referencing blocks it. But the remarkable result is that we are helped toward that purity, which becomes magnified as a thorough simplicity of spirit, the simple intention to be available to the Divine.

These four offer a lifetime of inner work, elaboration, and perfection. Even if we are unable to enter fully into these spiritual actions, they still can serve as aspirational exercises or prayers, which in any case help organize our energies and purify us of the self-centered egoism that refuses to give way to the Sacred and to love.

[1] John Ruusbroec: The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works, translation by James A. Wiseman, Paulist Press 1985. The Spiritual Espousals: Book Two, Section A.


        

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