Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of February 16, 2015

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Wobbling on the Way

(The Way of Integrity: Part 1)

If we want to follow the Way of Integrity, we need to examine the forces at work in us against integrity. What drives us to do what we know we should not do or fail to do what we know we should do? How we know what we should or should not do, we leave for a later part of this series. For now, we look at the common experience of knowing that an action is wrong, knowing that we will regret it, and then doing it anyway. So why do we do what we know in advance that we will regret?

The particular sets of forces at work against integrity vary from person to person. They might include the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy, and pride. To these we can add common variations such as arrogance, jealousy, vanity, apathy, egoism, group egoism, misguided principles, and other desires and attachments.

Coupled to these forces, we have enabling factors that ease us into violations of our integrity. Two such factors stand out. First, we might believe that integrity itself does not matter, that we can do as some force in us pleases, without repercussions. Second, we might believe that if no one else sees or knows what we are doing, then such private acts against integrity do not matter. If we are not going to get caught, then why not do what is expedient or desirable, even if wrong, or shirk our duty and fail to do what is right?

Another anti-integrity enabling factor is having a limited view of repercussions. Several different kinds of such limitations apply. We may not reckon how the smallest thing we do, when multiplied by the billions of people who might also do the same thing, can have enormous impacts on our planet. We may not reckon how what we do now might have profound effects on our own or others’ future.

We may not reckon how what we do externally will affect us inwardly. For example, failing to do what’s healthy for our body or failing to avoid what’s unhealthy, may, and often does, affect our inner energies and our spiritual practice. Also, we may not understand that acts against our conscience create a barrier between us and our deeper nature.

Then there is the hedonic treadmill. We seek happiness, personal happiness, by trying to get more of what we want. But the more we get, the quicker our satisfaction wanes, and the more our desires multiply. So we never quite arrive at happiness this way. Rather it condemns us to endlessly seeking external fulfillment. This desire-driven treadmill can lead us to look the other way whenever integrity raises objections. And the more we look away from integrity, the weaker its voice becomes.

All of this pushes us to wobble on the way of integrity. For this week, please look at whether and how the anti-integrity forces work in you.


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