When we find that the process of inner inquiry described in the last two posts actually works, and we see that ‘finding out’ things about our inner lives is both simple and replicable, we might wonder why and how this mysterious technique works so well?
What mechanism makes this seeming conversation with our experience and its storehouse of memory so powerful?
Hang on tight, because if you grasp the central reality of this, it has the power to change everything about your life – in a good way, of course.
The method of inquiry connects all your life’s experience with your intelligence and the presence of that intelligence.
The whole of spiritual development is about presence – the increasingly present companionship of a more real ‘us’ than our storm-tossed outer egoic personality.
The practice of inquiry, as outlined in these three posts, changes the usual ‘in here – out there’ relationship of living. Instead of experiencing ourselves as an in-here that is somehow superior to the world in which it exists, we begin to see that the edges of that division are not well defined, at all.
We are brought up from a very young age to think of the in-here as the surface of our bodies. We may have senses that supply an inference – homed by years of perceptive polishing – of what is happening out-there, but it remains a ‘me and it’ relationship; in other words an object-based view of our universe. We (surface of skin inwards) relate to not-me (surface of skin outwards) as an object; an object that can be subdivided into lots more physical and logical parts, many of which can never be never be ‘seen’, like anger directed at us, for example.
Our ‘self’ possesses many more means of ‘finding out’ about its world that our five traditional senses. When we enter a beautiful, budding glade on a spring morning, we feel a sense of renewal and eurphoria. This is a real feeling, though nothing of meaning has been transmitted to us in a sense that physics would acknowledge.
Similarly, when dealing with certain people, we know when they are lying – we can ‘just tell’. Body language may be part of it, but not the whole story; the rest being a kind of certainty of experience, a knowing.
We attribute much of this to psychological ability to make sense of our world, but much of it is an extension of our core out into the world that we know of as out-there.
An interesting exercise is to let go of your boundary of skin. Imagine yourself pervading the air around you, touching and sensing the moisture in the air, then the ground, the water in a stream, the grass of a meadow as you are walking through, the radiance of the sun in the sky. In the context of our investigation, we are extending what we know is our self out beyond its traditional boundaries and doing something slightly different to simple ‘mindfulness’.
Don’t try to push, say, ‘seeing’ out there in a forced way, simply let your awareness flow outwards, as though it were another kind of hearing.
If we carry this out over a period of weeks, with an open and welcoming expectation of forming a new relationship with our ‘felt’ world, we will begin to be both relaxed and expanded. Our ‘presence’ will seem to fill not just our bodies – glowing inside us – but the entire space around us.
This extended sense of intelligent and intimate presence is the ‘field’ into which we direct our Inquiry when we use a specific question or as a general exploration of ‘how we are’; which may be health-based or a dive into a specific issue of importance to us.
In our inquiry we simply have a friendly and open stance to whatever comes into our internal space. With practice, we find that the glowing state of presence is a powerful pre-requisite to a fulfilling session, and stays with us through the adventure.
When we are familiar and settled with the simple joy of the act of inquiry, we come to realise that the state of our presence in the act of inquiry is synonymous with the awareness of the all-embracing ‘now’, as discussed last week.
In this discovery, we become conscious that the ‘now’ and the feeling of glowing presence are in fact the same experience. With this new knowing, we enter a second and more powerful phase of inquiry, where we begin to question the nature of ‘space’ itself.
But that may be a step too far for this post!
Previous posts in this series:
This is Shells from an Inner Sea (3), the final part.
©Stephen Tanham 2023
Stephen Tanham is a writer, mystical teacher and Director of the Silent Eye, a correspondence-based journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.