Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of June 5, 2017

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One Heart

(Levels of Oneness 2)

Our emotions can be a mass of contradictions. We get angry at someone we love. We get jealous, wanting to contain the very freedom of spirit we so admire in that person. We want that shiny new thing, but hate the idea of paying so much for it. We believe we are wonderful, yet we inwardly disparage ourselves. We are happy with our lives until we bump into people who are better in some way, who are or have something we want. We regret something we did or failed to do, yet realize we would act the same again. We want to learn but do not want to be taught or do our homework. We dislike our overweight body, but hate the idea of eating less or different. We hate that we smoke cigarettes, yet we keep doing it. And so it goes, ad nauseum.

This seems to result from the inherent limitations of life, of time, abilities, resources, and conflicting desires or incompatible goals. But there are ways, healthy ways out of this emotional quagmire. Ways toward being at peace with ourselves, ways toward unity of heart.

We may recognize with the Buddha that our difficult emotions stem from desires, from grasping and aversion. Desires never end: they always want more, or different, or new. If we were free in front of desire, we would be at peace. This does not mean having no desires; it means not being driven by or a slave to our desires, not having our energies consumed by desires, not engaging in unethical actions under the influence of desires. A life without desires would be dull indeed. But freedom brings a whole different level to our experience, as desires lose their importance, their hold on us.

This also does not mean having no needs, which would be impossible. As long as we live, we have needs. Desires, though, go beyond needs. Despite the gray zone between needs and desires, an area that our conscience must guide us through, we seek freedom.

The issue, of course, is how, how to become free in front of desire. This is one of the major thrusts of spiritual paths. Inner and outer disciplines generally help. But strength of will takes many forms, some of which are receptive rather than active. Try as we might, we cannot unify ourselves by command, by pushing and herding our many drives into one direction.

Instead, we attract them with love. For example, to move toward a physically healthier lifestyle, we focus on our love of living. To move away from anger, jealousy, and greed, we notice how destructive they are to us. To stop disparaging ourselves, to relieve our self-doubt, we notice how destructive that is and we love, befriend, and accept ourselves as we are. Many positive results come from self-respect and self-kindness. That kindness does not include indulging our desires, rather we are kind enough toward ourselves to let go of the desires that enslave us, that damage us.

Thus love and utter acceptance of ourselves, lead us toward peace. Without having to maintain a defensive inner posture, we can relax and let go. In doing so, we spread wide our inner tent, allowing all our diverse drives, opinions, desires, and antipathies to mesh into one whole that is us. In place of our fragmented emotional life, we come into the wholeness of our One Heart.

Ultimately, the real freedom in front of desire comes from freedom from our self, from believing we are a separate self, freedom from our ego.

For this week, we practice loving ourselves. That leads us toward being able to love others as well, for they are just our self in a different body.


     

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