Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of May 13, 2013

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(Developing Wisdom: Part 6)

Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you

(Matthew 7:7)

To complement the wisdom of spiritual efficacy, we now turn to the wisdom of asking. In any of its forms, by asking we reach beyond our ordinary self with an implicit recognition of our need and a willingness to ask. Asking takes us beyond our opinions. A mind that asks is an open mind. And an open mind is a free mind.

The spiritual path is rightly called a search and its travelers seekers. For most of us, life itself is a search: for love and connection, for happiness and fulfillment, for food, for health, for wealth, for knowledge, for answers, for understanding. To search is to ask. Asking wisely is part of living well.

Sometimes we need physical or material help: times when we cannot manage on our own. We do what we can, and then we reach out to those near us and ask for their help. We hope such moments are rare, but wisdom recognizes when they do come, sees how best to ask for the help we need, and is willing to do so.

Sometimes we are in a quandary, not knowing what to do, how to choose when pulled in more than one direction. If we ask ourselves what we should do, we may get confusion or we may get our thoughts subtly voicing what our emotions want us to do. If we ask a trusted friend, we may get good advice or at least be able to express and discuss the dilemma, which enables us to frame it well. We wish we had some higher insight that could see into the future and tell us the right choice. But life does not work that way. So we learn by experience, especially from our mistakes. Yet there is more. In a quiet moment we can ask our higher self, we can ask what is deepest in us to guide us. Again, our thoughts may intrude, pretending to be the voice of the higher. So we let them go and wait. Perhaps we sleep on it. Perhaps we live with the quandary for a time, without deciding. Indeed, part of life wisdom is not to make difficult decisions before we must or before we know. And with openness and luck, a moment of inner guidance comes when we just know what to do.

Sometimes we need spiritual help. We may ask a friend or an advisor. Or we may ask God. Heartfelt appeals to the Divine for what we truly need put us in the stream of prayer. Whether or not the help comes, the asking itself works to transform us. It weakens our egoism by breaching its assumed self-sufficiency. If instead, our ego is full of fear or anxiety, self-pity or self-doubt, the act of asking the Sacred for help strengthens what needs strengthening.

What about the spiritual qualities of contentment and letting go? Surely, asking melts away in a contented heart. One just is. Even there though, we find movement. The world beckons, arousing questions of our role in it. The spirit beckons, beyond contentment and non-contentment. The asking continues. How can I be more awake, more pure? How can I complete my soul? How can I best serve? Merely entertaining such questions helps empty our cup to make room for new understanding.

In a deeper sense, in a form of prayer, asking aligns us with the Sacred. In the stillness, if we rest quietly, passively, or even receptively, we remain in a static position, waiting. Yet if we actively push, we close an inner door behind us. Asking crosses the middle ground. We ask the Sacred to enter us. We open to the Sacred. This is not purely passive or receptive and it is not purely active. It is a third way, the way of pure asking, the way of sacred asking. We are not asking a question. We are not asking for something. We are adopting an attitude of seeking for the Real in this moment, of opening our innermost door and inviting, begging the Real to enter now. We direct our gaze inward and open from behind ourselves, from beyond what we can see. This is both active and receptive. It is movement in receptivity. It is true asking. It is prayer.

For this week, ask.


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