Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of January 13, 2020

Equal Presence

(Relationship Presence: 3)

Inner criticism of, judgment of, and comparison with other people block us from equality in our attitudes toward our fellow humans. This matters in many ways, both inwardly and outwardly, both spiritually and for the functioning of society. As long as I care whether you are above me or below me, by some measure that I cling to, I remain trapped in my vanity, in my self-centered ego. As long as I am taking your measure to denigrate you or even just looking at you from my own perspective rather than yours or from no perspective, I am in my ego.

Spiritually, the attitude of equality, which we come toward by setting aside all our attitudes, is a precursor to transcending and entering oneness. When we consider people from a place of inner stillness, when we let other people be with us in that vast space of pure awareness, the boundaries and distinctions between us begin to fall away. We come toward the essential sameness hidden behind our surface differences.

This reveals that, despite appearances to the contrary, despite our gifts, and despite our shortcomings, we are neither above nor below other people, neither more important nor less important. That realization, in turn, has a profound effect on how we treat other people both in our actions and in our thoughts. We are no longer so willing to indulge in those criticisms, judgements, and comparisons. No one is better and no one is worse. We are human. We begin to feel what it is like to be in our neighbor's shoes, what it is like to be our neighbor.

In all of this, presence matters. For if we are not present, the habits and attitudes of being critical and judgmental run unchecked. In presence, however, they wither under the light of being seen, they wither because there is no room for them. If we are present, we are in the field of consciousness that we share. If we are present, our natural attitude toward everyone is respect. We recognize that this person in front of us is just as much a particle of the Divine as we are. This natural respect, this feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood, is the hallmark of equal presence, of being present, and thereby in the place where we are equal with everyone else.

To practice equal presence, we first practice presence. We sense our whole body, filling it with the sensitive energy. We widen our attention to include the whole field of awareness. In this field, there are thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. We notice those that are about other people. If these are in the realm of acceptance, kindness, and love, they belong to the very nature of presence. If these are any type of rejection or criticism, we notice them impartially. In that noticing, they begin to lose their power over us. We believe in them a little less, we act on them even less. Our meditation practice leads us into the inner stillness, which spills over into our presence during the day. Open stillness is the very nature of the wide field of awareness. Boundaries dissolve. Inner barriers fall. And here we are with our fellow humans, sharing the same inner space, in which every one of us matters equally.

For this week, please practice equal presence.


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