Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of August 31, 2009

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The Path of Right Living

How should I live my life? We all face this fundamental and ongoing question. Religions and spiritual paths offer at least partial answers or guidelines that leave most of the specifics to us. One such set of guidelines can be found in the comprehensive, simple, and powerful teaching of Right Living [1] presented by the Indian sage known as the Shivapuri Baba (1826-1963). The following is inspired by and adapted from that teaching.

Right Living means fulfilling our responsibilities in three broad areas: physical duty, being duty, and spiritual duty. Physical duty refers to our outer responsibilities. It means to act with intelligence, dexterity, and excellence for our body, for our family, for our profession, for society, and for the Earth. Being duty addresses our responsibility to develop our inner life, to develop a strong heart-mind-character-being, through wisdom, presence, and virtue. Spiritual duty consists of directly seeking God, seeking the One, the Truth that transcends both inner and outer.

Living rightly brings satisfaction, serenity, and peace. Satisfaction derives from living our external life with intelligence, dexterity, and excellence. Serenity comes from attaining inner freedom and living by conscience. And peace comes from approaching and ultimately seeing God. Lack of progress toward any one of these limits the others. If our outer life is not right, it will keep calling us away from developing our inner life and from seeking God. If our inner life is not right, the ongoing inner turmoil will divert us from bringing the full powers of our intelligence to bear on our outer life and we will not have the inner stability to seek God. And if we do not seek God or the Truth, the lack of meaning will invade our external life in the world as well as our inner life.

The three duties also have positive synergies. The being duty of living by conscience supports our physical duties by making us honest and sensitive and enabling us to recognize excellence. The being duty of presence supports our physical duties by giving us the inner space to bring our intelligence to bear on our outer duties. Being duty gives us the inner strength and purity needed for our spiritual duty of seeking God. The intelligence, dexterity, and excellence we develop in our physical duty carry over into the domains of being duty and spiritual duty. And the attention, kindness, and peace we develop in seeking God make us better at our physical and being duties.

This teaching of Right Living with its three duties, physical, being, and spiritual, offers a complete path that encompasses all facets of life. It shows us how our whole life and all that we do can be an act of service and a part of our path. We can bring everything under the enlivening umbrella of Right Living. Serving well in all the domains brings a deep sense of fulfillment.

Over the coming weeks, we will practice twelve aspects of the three duties. The first four aspects will relate to physical duty, the second four to being duty, and the final four to spiritual duty, as follows:

        Physical Duty
      1. Body
      2. Family
      3. Profession
      4. Society and the Earth

      5. Being Duty
      6. Practice of Freedom
      7. Conscience
      8. Sensitive Presence
      9. Conscious Presence

      10. Spiritual Duty
      11. Stabilizing Attention
      12. Prayer
      13. Faith and Love
      14. Seeking God, The One

These twelve aspects are not sequential stages, but rather simultaneous duties that we pursue in the normal course of our life. For this week, consider the breadth of Right Living and how you might apply it in your own life.

[1] Bennett, J. G. with Manandhar, Thakur Lal, Long Pilgrimage: The Life and Teaching of Sri Govindananda Bharati, Known as The Shivapuri Baba (London: Turnstone Books, 1965), available from


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