Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of July 25, 2011

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(Obstacles on the Way: Part 8 of 9)

We set ourselves up as judge and critic of everyone and everything that we care to pass judgment on, including ourselves and our life situation. People that we do not even know, we judge by their body, their mannerisms, facial expressions, posture, and clothing. We evaluate people, weighing their pluses and minuses, whether they are in any way a threat or a potential ally or friend, whether we like them or need them, whether to ignore them or not. In this utilitarian approach to people, we assign them grades and value as if they were commodities like farm animals. And that leads us to speak ill of others, to slander and gossip about them in a negative way.

Setting aside the dubious morality of this attitude to people and its effect on them, what is the problem with it? As always, we examine the issue from the point of view of our inner work, our spiritual practice. Doing so, we see first that all this fault-finding is a great distraction from presence and, second, that it both comes from and inflates our egoism, our self-importance. These two great strikes against it prompt us to look further into this process of fault-finding. We discover that it is habitual yet unnecessary, and inappropriate for a person of conscience and heart.

Do we really need to judge people? Sometimes we do need to make judgments, to discriminate, for example when we are dealing in a formal way with a person, such as in a business or service relationship. Even then, however, we do not need to find-fault in the inwardly accusatory way, which forgets that they are flesh and blood and consciousness like we are. We can simply apply a discriminating perception to see them as they are, all the while respecting their humanity. In fault-finding we make a value judgment, and a negative one at that. As if the person were worth less in proportion to how much we dislike, or disapprove, or cannot relate to them. In discrimination, which is part of wisdom, we just see the person as they are and leave it at that. But with the great majority of people we encounter, it is not necessary to discriminate, nor judge or note their faults. Letting go of this fault-finding stance relieves us of yet another great burden and obstacle on our path. It opens us to the simple joy of just being with people, without the buffer of our judging, criticizing, devaluing and dehumanizing attitude.

What about finding fault with ourselves or our life situation? What would it be like to feel, to really feel, that you are now living the life of your choice, that you would have it be no other way than how it is now? Of course, we exempt some aspects from this, such as loved ones who have died. Disregarding for the moment those exceptional cases, what would it be like to accept yourself and your life as it is, to be utterly content? What would it be like to give up our complaints, our whining, our self-pity, our self-criticism? We send so much of our energy, our life-blood, down that drain. And just as finding-fault with others separates us from them, not-accepting ourselves or our life as is separates us from our own deeper nature. We get distracted with wallowing in self-hatred or with grand programs to improve ourselves and our life. Again though we can apply an objectively discriminating approach to work to transform our being and to change our life situation, but all the while accepting, respecting, valuing who we are and the situation we are in.

For this week, notice when you find-fault with other people, with yourself, and your life. Notice how this affects those relationships. Practice just being with others and with yourself, without judging.


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