Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the Weeks of November 15 & 22, 2021


Presence

(Fourth Way Practice: 3)

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Presence is total participation in life, now. The distinction between inner and outer dissolves. We are here with the whole of ourselves: our three centers, our senses, our surroundings, and our direct engagement with the pattern of life. Most importantly, in presence we are here. That core of who we are is here, awake, and in contact. This is the primary and defining characteristic of presence: that there is someone who is present, in that moment. In presence, we are not just an amalgam of thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, actions, and sensory perceptions. In presence, we are the one who is present. Without that, there may be awareness, even three-centered awareness, but it is not presence.

We can and do live our life without presence. Things happen in us. Patterns of thought and emotion get kicked off by random events. We react in pre-programmed ways. We are dependent on external events for our thin reality. Even when we are in contact with our senses, initiative not based in habit eludes us. Inwardly we are shallow, out of touch with the depth of who we are.

Yet breaking through all that is not hard, once we have the taste of being ourselves. Knowing that taste, we can recognize its absence, recognize the discomfort of absence. That recognition itself comes from us, from who we are, and paradoxically can bring us back, if we so choose. We choose to be here. We choose to be the one who is alive in us, as us, in this moment.

Right now, you are reading these words. The sights create an inner reflection of concepts and thoughts. There is awareness in you of the sights, the thoughts and concepts. You are paying attention. Your attention focuses your awareness and brings you those perceptions. Your mind is converting the sensory inputs into thoughts and concepts.

But where are you in this? Look at the source of your attention. Look at who is directing your attention. Look at where the perceptions are received. Look at who is on the inside receiving the perceptions. You cannot see that one, because that is the one who sees. But you can be that one. That one is you. Be who you are. Otherwise your life is passing without you.

To be yourself, to be your I, is to be present. Presence derives from that. All the awareness, of the three-centers, the senses, the surroundings, comes under the umbrella of your I. When you look into a mirror, can you be the one who is looking and not be lost in the image?

There is a subtlety in presence that can cause confusion: the distinction between consciousness and I. It is relatively easy to see that we are not our sensitive energy. Our sensations, thoughts, emotions, and senses come to us. We are not any of that, although through identification we too often fall into believing we are our thoughts or emotions or our body. Our world, our psyche collapses from wholeness to a small part. But by coming back to this sense of ourselves, to being ourselves, we create an oasis of true inner freedom, even if small and fragile. That core of who we are, disentangles from the false freedom of being identified with something in our senses.

Yet consciousness, the conscious energy, brings a deeper challenge and opportunity. The energy of consciousness manifests in us as pure cognition, a boundless plenum of unadorned awareness and peace. This is behind, beneath all our sensitive awareness of thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and other sensory perceptions. In sitting meditation, we sit quietly, letting ourselves relax, letting our thoughts and emotions slowly subside on their own. Gaps open up between thoughts. In those gaps, behind and surrounding any thoughts, is this pure awareness, the conscious energy. It feels like home, the quiet peace of home. It has the characteristics of wholeness and equanimity. Yet despite the completeness of consciousness, it is not who we are. Consciousness is not our I. Consciousness is an energy. Our I is our will.

Consciousness does not choose or direct. It is a medium that transmits perceptions and choices. Our I, our will chooses and directs. Our will directs our attention, the process of focusing the conscious energy. Our I can direct consciousness, or just leave it be and rest in it, as in meditation.

All this may be a lot to take in. But we can take it simply. Be ourselves and from ourselves widen the reach of our contact with awareness to include the whole of us: body, heart, mind, and senses, not piecemeal but all at once. We thereby allow consciousness to serve its role of wholeness, while we are the one who is, who sees, and who acts. This is the act of being present.

See Also: Presence

See Also: Presence Strategies


     

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