Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 21, 2011

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Non-Directed, Unitive Will

Passion, Grace, Union

(Modes of Will: Part 11 of 11)

Hidden within any desire is a noble and high passion: behind lust there is love, behind gluttony the appreciation of beauty, behind greed the search for meaning and completion, behind arrogance the wish to be, behind dominance the wish to serve. Thus desires can be seen as ego-centric aberrations of passion, mistranslations of the active will from a high world into our ordinary world of separation and dependence.

While desires may be more or less satisfied, passions pursued lead to greater passion, inexhaustibly, for they flow from the infinite world of the Unitive energy, of Love, a world where Oneness is the reality. The will that flows down to and through us from that world carries in its very nature that inherent unity. One result of letting this into our hearts is that we feel our separateness as incompleteness, with the consequent arising of a need, a longing, a passionate wish for completion, for unity, for love. That precious wish drives our inner work along the path to the sacred. Spiritual practice, rather than assuaging that wish, increases it, until that longing in our heart becomes a constant reminder of what matters. That wish, that longing, that warmth of heart, reshapes who we are.

How to increase that passion for the sacred, for self-perfection, for liberation, for service? One approach is to pursue that passion through spiritual practice, both on our own and in community, be it a small meditation group or a large religious house of worship. The closer we come to the Sacred, the more we feel its warm glow and the greater our longing. This is the approach of being drawn to what is above.

The other approach is to see, with unflinching clarity and sincerity, the current, chaotic state of our inner world, to see our autopilot mode of living in unawareness and reactive emotions, our self-centeredness, our lack of presence. Facing, absorbing, and accepting this truth about ourselves calls forth from the depths of our being our longing for self-perfection, for liberation, and for the Sacred. This is the approach of wanting liberation from what is below. This wish for transformation from the lower couples with the wish for transformation to the higher, to create the active will, the necessary passion to sustain us along the Way, the will to completion, the will to worship, the will to serve.

Receptivity to the Unitive energy brings grace, the grace of a moment of awakening, the grace of freedom from self-centeredness, the grace of objectivity in seeing and responding to the needs of our neighbor, the grace of accepting ourselves and others utterly, the grace of opportunities and temptations, the grace of purifying situations, the grace of seeing our life as our teacher. Enabling us to rise above our usual mixed motives, moments of grace come unexpectedly. Through prayer we may ask for help from Above, but the form and timing of any such help remain uncertain. And even then we may not recognize it for the help that it is. Though grace may wear a welcome exterior or a stark one, it always calls us to our Self. To be receptive to grace means to be open to those moments that call us back, that call us upward, that call us to let go of the lower and open to the higher. One hallmark of such grace is its sobering effect on our intoxication with ourselves and our life; it injects a note of objectivity, with a hint of who we could be. To live is to grow; mature human life is about growth of being. Grace is the water that nourishes that growth.

We come now to the place of Union, the ultimate level of human experience and attainment. Actively, we reach deep within toward the Highest, driven to that boldness by our need, our unrequited yearning. Receptively, we stand in awe at the One Who creates and sustains this universe. And we surrender, totally, abjectly, emptying ourselves before the majesty of the Divine Will. These words need not be empty words, but can be pointers to the Reality and how one might approach It. There is the One Reality, the Will of all wills, the One Will that flows through all and through us all. The wish to reconnect our seemingly separate will, our individuality, with the One Will, carries us toward It. We reach and we surrender, we surrender and we reach, asking for and offering our Self to the synergy of Union now.

Even limited, groping efforts along such lines lead us toward Love. If we can even hope for our will to become again a particle of the Great Will, then we know in our depths that other people have the same potential for connection, the same connection with the One Will that flows through us all. And in that shared potential, in that shared will, there is unity. And in that unity is Love.

For this week, open to your passion, pray for grace, and reach for and surrender to Love.


     

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