Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of June 28, 2021

Total Presence

(Creating Our Soul: 5)

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To live as well as possible, we live in presence. Otherwise, we are not fully open to the experience of living and we are not as engaged in life as we could be. This becomes all too obvious in many situations, for example when we are wracked by some destructive emotion that narrows our experience, clouds our thoughts, and encloses us within ourselves. Or some non-constructive obsession takes over our inner world. Or we fall into a daydream and miss something we would rather not have missed. Or we are too busy with our own thoughts or reactions to hear what someone is saying to us. The wish to live well, open, and engaged is for many the main reason for the practice of presence, and rightly so. Yet hidden underneath all that is the soul-creating action of presence.

The practice of total presence is the primary approach to building our soul as we go about our day. Total presence is also the natural result of developing our soul. Though it can have several elements, in total presence we are a unified whole. The experience is of unity, of being one and complete. We enter the core of our body, heart, and mind as our singular I, as our will in each and all of them at once. All our parts join in their center, where I, where we come into them. In doing so, we act through the unifying umbrella of the conscious energy. If we ask who is present when we are present, the answer is I am. It is not our body, our mind, or our emotions that are present; it is I who is present, prior to, but also in and through our parts.

Take that example of being too busy with our own thoughts or reactions to hear what someone is saying to us. We may do that because we want to prepare our response to what they are saying, so we miss fully taking in the rest of what they say. In presence, we do not need to prepare a response or rebuttal. We listen with and as the whole of ourselves for the duration. Just listening. Letting go of the need to comment inwardly, we just listen. We trust ourselves to know the right thing to say when the time comes, without taking inner rehearsal time away from the listening.

Then when it comes our turn to speak, we speak from the whole of ourselves. Fully engaged in the speaking, fully engaged in what we are saying, why we are saying it, how we are saying it and to whom we are saying it. But it is not that we need to stop and consider what, why, how, and whom; in total presence speaking, all of that and more come together in the moment as a single conscious act. We speak with our heart, our mind, and our body. We speak from and as our self, our I, with our full intention and attention. In short, we speak with total presence.

Our I is not as mysterious, hidden, or inaccessible as it may seem. While it is true that our I is our will, our un-splintered will, and that will is not in time or space, is not material, and is not an energy, will is nevertheless simply and exactly who we are. As you read or listen to these words, perhaps you are paying attention, perhaps you are focused. In that case, you can consider your attention itself to be who you are. More specifically, you are the one who directs your attention, who is directing your attention moment to moment. In that way, attention is a combination of will, which does the directing, and energies, mainly the conscious energy, which is directed by our will. So just by being here in yourself, as yourself, as that in you that is directing your attention, you are in your I, you are your I.

We may utterly believe we are something other than our will, our I. We may believe we are our body, or our emotions, or an emotion, or our thoughts, or our memories, or our patterns, or our story, or the thought "I." But we are not any of that. We are our will, our I. And the most direct way to come into that is to be the one who directs our attention on an ongoing basis, the one who chooses what we choose, the one who is when we are.

For entering total presence, there are three approaches, representing three levels of integration. The first comes from the sensitive energy. When we sense our body, feel our emotions and cognize our mind, the sensitive energy enters all three centers. In so doing it creates connections between our three centers, due to the fundamental affinity among the three forms of the sensitive energy: sensation, feeling energy, and mind energy. When we draw the active elements from the air, it enters us as sensitive energy. This usually goes into our body but can also enter our emotions and mind, if we are open to that, or if we intentionally direct it to all three. Simply by sensing our body, the sensitive energy tends to spill over into our emotions and mind. Such actions raise us altogether to the level of the sensitive energy. That energy shared among our centers integrates us at that level.

The conscious energy, by its very nature, brings wholeness. It knows no boundaries. When it is liberated from our usual passive submersion in the lower energies, it subsumes our body, heart, and mind into one awareness. How do we approach it? By relaxing into the pure awareness that is prior to specific perceptions, the cognizant, contextual stillness, the silence beneath our thoughts, the peace beneath our emotions, and the pervasive calm beneath our sensations. That is how the conscious energy manifests to us and that is our way into it: one awareness behind all our senses, inner and outer. All the impressions of living are the contents of consciousness, which ties it all together.

A third level of total presence comes through our I, our will, our will-to-be. Consciousness, working with sensation, brings impressions to us. It is awareness itself. But consciousness is not the one who is aware. That would be us. You are the one who is aware of what goes on in and around you. You are the one who perceives what consciousness brings you. You are the one who directs and focuses your consciousness, through acts of attention. You are the one who inhabits and uses your body, the one who feels your emotions, the one who knows and sometimes directs your thoughts. When you inhabit the whole of yourself as yourself, you bring that imprint, your imprint, to everything in you, all at once. You are you. And in being you, all your parts coalesce into a unity, a single will bringing wholeness in action and in being.

There are deeper levels of oneness, of presence, to do with the truly spiritual. For now, we focus on the truly and fully human state of total presence and strive to make that our home. For this week, please practice total presence.


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