Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 26, 2018

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Creating Ourselves

(Climbing Jacob's Ladder: 8)

With enough experience in meditation, our mind grows quieter and our heart grows more peaceful. We come to appreciate this state of open, clear awareness. We come to love it. We look forward to our sittings as opportunities to renew that inner peace. The meditative calm spreads into our life in a healthy and positive manner.

Yet after a time, we may feel something lacking, perhaps a lassitude, a passivity enveloping us. We may be too comfortable. We may have peace, but meaning eludes us. We feel a need to contribute what is uniquely ours to contribute, but may be unsure what that is.

For that, we need to become ourselves, our own distinctive individuality. We will look at two complementary approaches to this.

The first happens almost naturally through the rough and tumble, the challenges and joys, of life. But we can accelerate it by being consciously active about it. This is to develop our self-reliance, to hone our intuition and discrimination in the myriad choices offering themselves to us, in the myriad questions and conundrums of life, to the point of coming to trust our own judgment, coming to look for the answers within ourselves. This means not stumbling into choices by accident, not abdicating our responsibility to ourselves, not letting our conditioned patterns rule beyond their place. It means making the significant decisions ourselves, with awareness and intention. And then, we follow through.

Of course, our ego can easily take over this process, so that instead of developing judgment, we develop arrogance. Here humility helps. Even if we have very good judgment, we still make mistakes, sometimes serious ones. Whenever that happens, in small ways and large, we do not hide from them, we do not sweep our mistakes away by justifying or ignoring them. Rather, we look them full in the face. We listen to that all-important, clear-seeing voice of truth inside us. What went wrong? And why? This is how we stay humble and this is how we become ourselves.

We come to the fundamental questions: what should I do with my life? What is the meaning of life? What is life for? Who am I? What should I change? What can I change? We may seek advice from trusted friends and others with more experience. But we consider that advice in our own way. We contemplate the question to see what we ourselves see about it.

This kind of contemplation, in all matters of significance to us, brings us closer to ourselves. We may or may not do what everyone else is doing, but we make that choice ourselves, for ourselves. There is a great deal of knowledge at our fingertips, but no one can give us understanding, which comes slowly through the push and pull of life, the successes and failures resulting from our decisions, and through contemplating the questions and the choices. We learn to see for ourselves and from ourselves. In so doing, we become ourselves.

This process uncovers our inner voice of truth, the voice of our conscience. This is not only our guide to right and wrong; conscience is one manifestation of who we are. We are our conscience. When conscience nudges us, it is our own real self, our I, nudging the rest of our parts. We would do well to listen.

Of course, as in all things, our ego can pretend to be our conscience. So we check. Does this prompt accord with ordinary morality, with the laws and norms of our society, with the heart of love? If not, we take another, more skeptical look before acting on it. In this way, we further build our discrimination and judgment. We create ourselves.

For this week, please see where you stand in the process of self-creation.


        

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