Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of November 20, 2017

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Outer Heart

(Personal Unity: 5)

What is our attitude toward the world? How do we feel about and toward people in general? Do we have a propensity to get angry? Are we fearful of others, timid, suspicious, jealous? Do we measure others and compare ourselves to them, ready to feed our envy? Do we judge others to prove our superiority or protect against our inferiority? All of these and similar attitudes cast a veil over our eyes and heart, so that we cannot see other people as they are, so we cannot see them as persons with an inner world and consciousness in the same way that we are persons with an inner world and consciousness.

If we wish to be unified in ourselves and work toward that, we realize at some point that we cannot enter personal unification in a vacuum, separate from other people. Every attitude and impulse that creates a barrier between ourselves and others, that sets us apart from others, also divides us inwardly, splitting apart aspects of ourselves. Those attitudes and impulses create tensions in us, tensions between opposing forces within us.

When we do not accept other people as they are, we are also rejecting something about ourselves. Self-rejection can be difficult to see and even more difficult to heal. Our rejection of others, however, can be more obvious to us, and can thereby become a point of leverage in healing the inner divisions of our heart. That leverage comes through noticing and dropping our inward ill-treatment of other people. Can we begin to let go of our judgments, of our anger, jealousy, envy, and mistrust, of keeping people at an emotional arm's length? Can we see those emotional impulses as they arise, see them for the self-defeating attitudes that they are, and relax our heart to cleanse it?

Of course, in the current state of our society, being naive leaves us vulnerable to all kinds of scams, to being taken advantage of. So we do not give up our common sense and street smarts. But we do adopt a default attitude of trust and friendliness. Between trust and street smarts, we follow the Arab proverb: "Trust in God, but tie you camel." That is the middle way to live with ease and openness of heart.

Our outer heart is the heart we show to others. The way toward a unified outer heart consists of following the Golden Rule: treating others, in our attitudes and actions, in the manner we would want them to treat us, if we were in their place. This means considering the effects of our attitudes and actions on other people, before we exhibit those attitudes or take those actions.

Some may think this approach to be insincere, because we are not showing our true feelings. They might prefer to tell someone they dislike that they do not like them and even why. But that is usually hurtful, harmful, unproductive, and feeds our ego, a losing proposition all around.

The Golden Rule is the rule of love, the rule of considering our neighbor as we would consider ourselves. By following it, we may find that in letting go of not liking someone, we end up at least neutral toward them and respecting their personhood. Respecting them allows us to respect ourselves, and vice versa. Our default attitude becomes kindness and warmth. A closed heart encloses us in a narrow, impoverished world. So when we notice that hardness of heart, we relax and open to a wider, richer world.

Unifying our outer heart moves us toward complete personal unity and wholeness. For this week, please notice how you treat others, inwardly and outwardly, and let go of anything that shrouds your own heart of love.


     

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