Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of November 16, 2009

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Faith and Love

(Aspect 11 of 12 of the Path of Right Living)

We feel a very broad spectrum of emotions, from desperate and illusory desires, anxiety, and depression, to self-centered automatic reactions like anger, fear, jealousy, envy, and greed, to the non-destructive ordinary, sensitive emotions like friendliness, happiness, and sadness, to conscious emotions like kindness, joy, contentment, and equanimity, to the feelings that come to us from the Sacred such as hope, faith, compassion, and love. This list naturally divides into five categories of emotion: desperate and illusory, automatic, sensitive, conscious, and higher. Each category operates with a different and corresponding level of inner energy.

Emotions can cross categories. Take the example of anger. We can have a desperate flash of anger that then seethes and festers over time, feeding on itself, infecting our entire inner life, and disturbing our body chemistry. We can have automatic anger that reacts to unwanted events, such as a rude driver in traffic. We can feel sensitive anger in response to slights, insults and other affronts to us personally. And we can arouse conscious anger in response to evil actions. The higher an emotion is on this scale of energies, the less identified we are with it, the less control the emotion has over us, the more we are aware of the emotion as an emotion, and the more appropriate and real the emotion is. The lower categories of emotion arise unbidden and usually against some large portion of our fractured will, because the lower the dominant energy the more our will is fragmented.

In this aspect of the Path of Right Living, we turn toward the higher emotions, those that come to us from the Sacred. These spiritual feelings well up from deep within us, not necessarily in response to any external stimulus. But certain stimuli can and do evoke higher emotions. Worship rituals and some forms of music are designed to awaken faith and love in us. The sight of living beings in a state of suffering awakens compassion in us. Contact with nature can awaken connectedness and awe. We participate in the arising of these higher emotions by assenting to them, by our willingness to feel deeply and beyond our self-centeredness.

But also by our own inner work, such as the work of deepening prayer, higher emotions naturally well up from the core of our being. In deepening prayer, as we approach nearer to the Divine, we may touch the level of the higher, sacred emotions. In the practice of deepening prayer, we aim ourselves toward the Sacred Source. Along the way we come to the purifying light of a high spiritual world, not yet the Source Itself, but close to It. And in opening to that spiritual world, we open to the sacred emotions.

Faith and love are there, as welcoming and enlivening signposts that we are moving in the right direction, toward the Divine. These higher feelings cannot be manufactured or conjured by us. Faith comes to us as the certainty and confidence in the Sacred, as the Sacred touches us directly. The more we open ourselves to contact with the Sacred, the more our doubts dissolve into trust, and the more faith enters us. Love comes as the intuition of our unity with all, the non-separateness revealed in the descent of the Sacred into our heart. The more our contact with the Sacred, the more we realize the Source of all is One in all, the more we enter into Love.

The veil between us and that spiritual world of higher emotions is not so thick, and certainly not impenetrable. The purer and more devoted our seeking, the closer we come to the Light and beyond. Indeed the Sought is the Seeker.

For this week, seek faith and love.


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