Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of December 17, 2012

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The Wish to Be

(Learning to Be: Part 5)

Conscious desires rise beyond those driven by reaction and self-centeredness; we can call them wishes. In particular, there is a type of wish that drives our inner work, a wish that keeps us returning to ourselves, to presence, to the spiritual path. We have a deep-seated longing, a longing for completion, for purification, for meaning, peace, and connection. This sacred longing is part of our human endowment; we all have it. We can call it the wish to be.

This wish is the fundamental fuel of our life; it prods us to action. And not just actions related to inner work and spirituality. It translates into our need to express who we are in the way we live and what we do. Yet this wish to be often devolves into the wish to have, to take, to hold. Because we face outward, it leads us to attempt in vain to fill our inner need with outer things. Nothing and no one that we might have, take, or hold can truly fulfill our wish to be. In the end we are left flat and wanting. Yes, family and friends matter. Meaningful work matters. But still, something more stirs in our heart, a need that cannot be satisfied from the outside.

Not understanding that need, our wish to be, we divert it to other pursuits. It gets crusted over and ignored. And so we go through life with this need in our heart, pretending it isnít there or trying to satisfy it with temporal, material fixes.

But if we look deeply into what we desire, we find at the root of desire this wish to be, this wish to be ourselves, our true selves, to be real, to be here and whole. Being is something that no one can give us and no calamity can take from us. It is the only true security, for it does not belong to time and space. Being is timeless and of a different order than all that surrounds us. And most importantly, being can be earned, it can grow, if we nurture it appropriately. This is precisely where the wish to be derives its great importance. Without the wish to be, we would not practice presence, prayer, meditation, kindness, and all the other aspects of the spiritual path, of growing our being. The stronger and more direct our contact with our fundamental wish, the more we practice and the more we fulfill that wish.

When we engage in life, as we must, should, and do, life takes us. We lose ourselves in the outward action, in the outward perceptions. We are not. The wish to be calls us back to ourselves, back to presence, at the same time as we engage in activity. We can both be and do. Being and doing do not exclude each other. We can be ourselves as we act, as we do all the large and little things we do. Our wish to be calls us not to get lost in doing. We can be in contact with the cognizant stillness, that silent presence that is our true home, as we speak and act and think. But our heartfelt wish to be is the core cause, the enabling factor that makes presence possible. Without it, we never even start, we do not make that first move into presence, we ignore the possibility.

We can feel the wish to be directly. We enter ourselves and feel our longing, here in our center. The deepest longing has no object. We simply long for being, long to be. While we are not, we have no peace. As soon as we enter presence, become ourselves in this moment, we find a measure of peace. Our longing to be is fulfilled, at least temporarily.

Our wish to be can act as our compass on a moment-to-moment basis. When we are lost in our thoughts, reactions, or activities, that wish reminds us, it gives us a feeling of discomfort, of things not being quite right with us. Our being wants to come forward, to take its place at the center of our life. When we are off that center, out of touch, we know it, even if only at a subconscious level. Yet that out-of-touch-with-ourselves feeling is the needle of our compass, pointing toward our magnetic center. We can follow it back to our inner home.

For this week, practice coming back home to your being, to being yourself, to presence, both in your sitting meditation practice and in your daily life.


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