Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of April 13, 2015

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(The Way of Integrity: Part 8)

We can imagine a person of integrity who is not a responsible person, in the sense of sometimes forgetting or neglecting or just failing to do what is required. Perhaps you know someone like that. Someone that you trust but cannot count on. Maybe that person is scattered or forgetful, but completely honest and principled. We might consider that person to have integrity, but with responsibility lacking, their integrity is not complete. Maybe we ourselves are like that in some respects.

We know that responsibility means doing what is required of us, without fail. We do our duty, our allotted tasks in life, whether small or large, mundane or magnificent. It all matters. If we have too many duties and cannot get them all done, we prioritize and cut back on what we agree to do.

Responsibilities and duties fall into three broad categories: duties to self, to society (including family and the biosphere), and to the Sacred. Although only the last category is explicitly spiritual, all categories of responsibility are fundamentally spiritual. Responsibilities give us purpose. Purpose derives from the Divine Will, which is the Purpose behind the universe. That Great Purpose imposes obligations on us. So for example, our duty to wash the dishes restores order to a small corner of the universe. The Great Purpose behind the universe appears to have something to do with the creation and maintenance of order, on all its possible scales. Another side of the Great Purpose appears to have something to do with love and compassion. Between the obligations to create and maintain order and to be loving and compassionate, our life unfolds and our responsibilities arise. The important point here is that because our obligations derive from the Divine Will, we can align ourselves with that Will, we can participate in that Will, we can allow that Will to participate in us, by being responsible.

What this means in terms of our duties to self and society we discover through the examples of people we respect, and through trial and error. What it means in terms of our spiritual duties is not so readily accessible to us. We can follow our family religion, its customs, practices, and rules. For many, that is enough and satisfies their spiritual responsibilities. For others, religion is not enough. Those do not need to leave their religion. Instead they seek religion plus, which in turn gives more meaning to and deepens their religious practices.

A person who persistently practices meditation and presence, for example, brings more clarity and better functioning into their inner life. When that person then goes to pray, in the way of their religion, their heart is more available to embrace the prayer, their attention can focus their mind and heart on the prayer, and they can pray with the whole of their being.

Still, what does this have to do with responsibility? It is not just that we are obliged to bring order to our inner life and compassion into our actions, important though that may be. Through our inner work, whether meditation, presence, or prayer, we produce a spiritual energy that serves the Sacred. Moreover, the quality or level of that energy depends on the depth of our inner work, which in turn depends on the level of our being. Not only that, but our will grows in its quality and alignment with the Sacred. The more we practice, the deeper our practice and our prayer can be, and the more useful we are, in a direct way, to the Sacred. This is a key part of why we are here, what we are made for.

By responsibly fulfilling our obligations, on all levels, we fulfill ourselves. For this week, please look at your own response to responsibilities.


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