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"The work is a series of stages in the understanding of it.  If it does not penetrate it remains words--on the surface.  Then you argue about everything.  But its ideas are spermatic--that is, capable of penetrating and fertilizing the mind and feeling--otherwise it would not be Work--real teaching.  It corresponds to something we have forgotten, something waiting in us, something to which we have gone to sleep long ago, something covered over by continual life.  That is why this ancient teaching can awaken us."

— Maurice Nicoll
Psychological Commentaries



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Often the question arises, what is meant by Development of Human Potential? After all most of us consider we are quite living up to our human potential by being “good as we can be,” at our jobs, family, parenting, love relationships, or our place in society.

Throughout history in sacred writings, the ideas being conveyed in religious, philosophical and spiritual texts, which refer to higher meaning, reference the awakening from a state of sleep. This is not meant to be literal, but a truth that must be seen by humans internally.

Development of our human potential is referring to this inner awakening of our essential Self. This awakening is a latent or potential ability available to us all, and which for the most part is not accessed by us, in our daily life. Our early education does not refer to this latent ability in our self. We in the West are educated intellectually to think soundly, with some emphasis on religious or moral consideration, seldom if at all, is consideration given to our practical Humanity or our potential to become complete Human Beings.

The questions “Who am I” or “Why am I” are questions that are not generally addressed by conventional education. In my experience, this becomes the quest of the “second education,” that may come to us when the outer world considerations have been experienced, even conquered, and yet one is left still with a question, a yearning, that there has to be more meaning to life than this.

Enter here the quest for the essential Self, and the contact with spiritual meaning in one's life. The Work says we are more than our personality, that there also exists within us higher aspects of ourselves, which are available to us at will, when we recognize through the work of self-observation, the multi-faceted dimensions of the personality and practice separation from it. The exercises of separation and right efforts will open us to the presence of the essential Self. The common experience of attempting to become a “better version of oneself” is the danger here. Yet through the effort of self-observation and separation we begin to recognize the difference between my behaviors and “I” my Self. The increased consciousness brings a new increasing awareness of our self as individuals and as a participant in the cosmic energies. Another practice, one of bringing oneself back to the moment, over and over again, when we find ourselves identified with the personalities act or reactions, will facilitate the awakening to the Presence within. The gap, which exists in the quiet inner space, when there is no mind at work interfering with the experience of the moment, is what will facilitate those moments of real Presence. Then, in those moments, the question of “meaning of life,” “my life” or even “who am I” becomes no longer a question. The answer is clear.

Coming to the point of awakening an awareness, a presence, and of activating and sustaining the human potential in oneself, does require a great deal of practical work on oneself. This Work is not simply about knowing something, but of truly making it real in oneself by experiencing it fully. It is a process of inner work with oneself, and in concert with others, to come into contact with the presence of the essential Self. This is practical Fourth Way Work carried out in ones daily life. The Work describes the process as “being in life, but not of it.”

The following Zen teaching story says it simply, clearly. The fact that it is Zen and not “The Work” . . . matters not at all . . . . .

Truth . . . . .is.

“A monk once asked his Master, “No matter what lies ahead, what is the Way?” The Master Quickly replied, “The Way is your daily life.” This concept is at the very center of the Way of Zen. The principles that govern the Way are directed toward all of our existence, not just to the part that takes place in the meditation hall. The challenge of Zen is to meet each day, each moment with a clear mind and a cleansed spirit, so that the moment to moment union with existence becomes the highest teaching.”

And . . . . . .So it is!