Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of May 12, 2014

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Cultivating the Heart of Love

(Deepening Our Inner Life: Part 6)

Many emotions flow through us on any given day. Yet we know of master emotions, which, if we could cultivate them, would profoundly change our life for the better. Prime among these is love. One way is to start from below by paying attention to our moments of non-love. In that way, we notice our indifference toward others, our uncaring, negative attitudes, thoughts, and actions toward others. This seeing in itself diminishes the grip of non-love, but only if we see from a place of love, or at least self-acceptance. Any rejection just feeds and perpetuates our destructive patterns.

Yet there are also ways to start from above, from love itself and from its close companion, kindness. Every day we have moments that touch our heart. Some are unpredictable, though others come through regular contact with our loved ones. By whatever route these moments that touch us arise, we can use them, and indeed any other moment, as opportunities to cultivate the heart of love.

Say, for example, you are in a situation where you see other people, whether strangers or not. You could inwardly wish them well or inwardly ask for a blessing on each one individually. You could inwardly say “May you be happy.” Or you could inwardly say “May the Lord bless you and protect you.” Or you could use some other phrase that touches you.

While having such positive thoughts toward others is an important step, we can go a bit further. We can engage our heart. We can feel what we are thinking. So we direct our attention toward the person and inwardly we say the phrase, while being aware of its meaning and letting our heart feel that meaning and emotionally embody our positive intent. It sounds like several different pieces, but they coalesce into a single act of loving well-wishing. This is a practice we can invoke anywhere, including in difficult moments with other people. It helps purify our heart of self-centeredness and of criticizing, judging and condemning, both others and ourselves. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Another step is to take our well-wishing and act on it: the way of kindness. We pay even more attention to how we interact with other people, to what we say and do, to the expression on our face, the tone of our voice, the gestures we make, the effect we are having. But it all begins in our core, in our attitude toward the person, in our thoughts and feelings. By practicing the heart of love in the midst of our interactions, we change the tenor of our relationships. For example, the practice of courtesy, in deed and in word, puts us in the frame of kindness.

Beyond that, how do we react when someone crosses us, such as a discourteous driver? Fear and anger may be our normal and immediate reactions, but we do not need to nurture them beyond their momentary usefulness in alerting us to the danger and preparing us to respond. Can we open our heart, even to that person who has crossed us, turn the other cheek? It is a hard thing, but love demands it of us. Love reveals that we are not separate, not even from that person. Love asks us to become still more able to give and to give way.

Beneath all our perceptions, beneath our senses and thoughts and feelings, is a pure awareness, our true consciousness. We all share the same consciousness, for it does not stop at the boundaries of our body. And beyond that shared sameness, we have our individual, unique will. Yet the individual will of every one of us comes from the one Source, and that Source is the source of Love. We aspire to the great heart of love.


     

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