Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of October 4, 2010

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Wish for Freedom

(Stages of Freedom: Part 3 of 9)

Seeing that the freedom we thought we had is illusory, seeing that nothing is perfect in the material realm, and seeing that everything fades in itself and in the value we place on it leaves us empty and disillusioned, with a gap where our desires and identifications used to be. Out of that heartfelt gap there arises a true feeling, a longing for completion, a passion for the Real. This feeling is central to every spiritual path: the Buddhist Pali term, for example, is sanvega. Through this gap our inner fire shines, sometimes brightly and sometimes weakly, but always warmly. And once that inner fire lights up, it can never be extinguished, for it is not our fire, but comes to us from the Sacred. We are the keepers of that flame. Our wish for freedom, our passion for the Real is how the spirit calls us.

Freedom, love, and the spirit draw us, while our wish and our passion propel us along the Way. In response, we practice presence and prayer, kindness, responsibility, and service. We practice more and more. And as we do, we see more, we soak in the welcoming silence, the gap at our core. The more we touch that stillness, the more the spirit touches us. In the process, our wish to be and our passion for the Real deepen. This virtuous circle of passion enlivening practice, which further awakens our passion, sustains our path. Seen in this light, we understand and respect the centrality of our wish for freedom and we nurture that yearning by responding to it through our inner work.

Everything depends on the purity and depth of our need, the need that draws us into the Sacred. Our perceptions of the wish for freedom come through our emotions. We feel the need. We feel the passion. We feel the hunger. It drives our interests toward the Sacred. We find ourselves wanting to know more, to understand more, to be more. If we look with our thinking mind for that wish, for whatís driving our interest and actions, we cannot see it. It is not mental. Itís emotional. Our mind may agree and have its own rationale for why we practice. But our heart is the channel for this drive: we simply feel that we must.

Everything depends on the purity and depth of our need, the need that draws us into the Sacred. Our perceptions of the wish for freedom come through our emotions. We feel the need. We feel the passion. We feel the hunger. It drives our interests toward the Sacred. We find ourselves wanting to know more, to understand more, to be more. If we look with our thinking mind for that wish, for whatís driving our interest and actions, we cannot see it. It is not mental. Itís emotional. Our mind may agree and have its own rationale for why we practice. But our heart is the channel for this drive: we simply feel that we must.

This wish for freedom, for reconnecting with the Sacred, has a different character than most of our other wishes. If we wish for some material thing, we can have a clear image of what we wish for. If we wish for some material quality, like health or wealth or success, we can have a fairly clear representation of that. But when we wish for freedom, any mental representation of our goal ultimately hides it from us. The true wish for inner freedom can only be non-conceptual, because what we seek transcends the bounds of our mind. This applies even in religions that employ sacred images, which can indeed take us part of the way. But the reality of Christ far surpasses any conception we might have of Him.

For this week, be aware of and respond to your own wish for freedom, your own passion for the Real. Our heart is mixed: many disparate feelings compete for the center of our stage. But we can support and strengthen our wish to be by recognizing it, by accepting it, and by our persistent inner work, both on our own and in the company of others. And like our inner work, our wish operates in and for the present, not for some imagined future freedom. We wish now and allow our wish to infuse our practice here and now.


     

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