Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice



Stillness acts as a gateway to the spiritual, a gateway of three successive forms of stillness. The first, stillness of the body-heart-mind, develops in meditation when we sit quietly long enough. The body’s fidgeting, itching, and restlessness settle down gradually as it attains rest and stillness. Our heart may recall a situation in life that brings into play one of the many hues of emotion. Or a totally imaginary event in our daydreams calls forth an emotion. But gradually, in quiet meditation, the waves of emotion also settle down to a peaceful state of equanimity. Our brain can be pouring thoughts one over another in a cascading stream. As we watch our thoughts, unmoved, not participating in them, just listening to them pass, they slow down. In some cases, they may cease altogether for periods.

Often in meditation, thoughts grow lighter and the gaps between them widen, so that we can touch what lies beneath the thoughts, the second form of stillness. Stillness of awareness, stillness of consciousness differs from stillness of the body-heart-mind. When we enter the place of pure consciousness, the screen upon which thoughts, emotions, and sensations manifest, when we sit back from all the perceptions arising and falling, when we drop beneath all the inner and outer sounds, and settle into that simple awareness, simple consciousness, we discover consciousness itself as inherently still and silent. Pure consciousness offers us a more profound form of stillness, in which joy naturally arises and through which energy can flow into us, spontaneously infusing our whole being and body. This stillness of awareness marks the shoreline of the spiritual. Beyond it lie the worlds of the spirit. We find contact with the stillness of awareness most readily, but not only, in meditation. Rather, this stillness comprises the background of all our experience: always there, awaiting our greater or lesser alignment with it.

Of even greater subtlety, the third form of stillness, the stillness of will, means letting go of our attachments and intentions, desires of all kinds, even the desire to be in a state of stillness. We open our will, our intentionality, thereby allowing our core, the place of our will, to be approached by the higher will, the Will of the Transcendent. As long as we remain firmly fixed on our personal agendas and desires, we block the entry of the higher will.

Neither stillness of consciousness, nor stillness of will depend on stillness of the body. Thoughts and emotions can be streaming, the body moving, seeing, hearing, and speaking, and yet, simultaneously, underlying all these more external perceptions, we can stay in touch with the more interior, the stillness of consciousness, open in our will, fully present.

Stillness of will, openness to the Tao, should not be confused with passivity. Instead, it calls for an alert, awake, open way of being. It involves the action of non-action. Not placing oneself in the loop of action, but allowing the action to flow through us. In this way we can be responsive and responsible, very active, yet free of our personal agendas, open to a more universal agenda. We see and act without the overlay of our attachments to distort our actions, but rather through the instrument of our wisdom, our knowledge, our skills, our particular talents and character. Ultimately, we aim to serve as a conscious, cooperative instrument of the spiritual force. While living a truly moral life, stillness of will involves not inwardly taking credit for our successes, nor blame for our failures. Stillness of the will brings true inner peace and fulfillment. Have you ever been utterly content?


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