Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of February 3, 2020

Responsible Presence

(Relationship Presence: 6)

Am I a person that people can count on? Do I take care of my duties and obligations? Do I do what I say I will do? Do I respond when I see something that needs doing? Do I do my fair share? In short, am I responsible and responsive?

Do I do what is required of me, but grudgingly? Half-heartedly? Wishing I were somewhere else, doing something else? Actually doing something else inwardly, like daydreaming and not giving my full attention to the task at hand?

Being responsible toward others goes a long way toward creating a solid foundation for our relationships, especially our closest and family relationships.

Being responsible toward others goes a long way toward creating a solid foundation for our relationships, especially our closest and family relationships.

On the other side, responsible action is purposeful and so is presence. Presence forms around the purpose of being, combined with the purpose of doing what is needed. So purpose, presence, and responsibility are all closely and fundamentally linked.

Acting on what we see is needed is being responsive. Doing what is asked of us is being responsive. The latter requires good judgment on our part. Groups and individuals unrelated to us ask us for donations and handouts. What do we do? How do we respond? Do we respond? People close to us ask us to do things, to give of our time and effort. What do we do, especially when complying would cause us great difficulty or even just inconvenience?

To look at these cases from a spiritual standpoint can be fruitful. There is positive side, the side of love and connectedness, generosity and charity. To the extent we are in touch with these qualities in ourselves, we give what we can when it seems right and when it does not harm us.

Beyond that, there is the spiritual practice of allowing ourselves to imposed upon. From an ordinary point of view, that seems stupid or at least na´ve. But it can be an effective means of chipping away at our self-centered egoism. The key is not to let our ego usurp it, either through inflating our opinion of ourselves for being such a good and giving person or for working so "selflessly" against our own wishes, against our own ego, or through resenting the imposition and grousing about the imposer.

In the moment when the situation arises, we make the choice to allow ourselves to be imposed upon. This is our choice and we take responsibility for it. It is not the fault of the person who is imposing on us. We see our self-centeredness squirm under the weight of the imposition and we let that be as it is, without buying into the complaints. Instead of blaming someone, we let the blame be there if it arises, we let it subside, and we turn to love for that person. That, after all, is the point of our choice to begin with. When done rightly, allowing ourselves to be imposed upon cracks open the door of love. Those are cracks in our self-centeredness, which is the antithesis of love.

Of course, this can go too far. We need not allow the impositions to continue indefinitely. We need not allow our generosity to be abused by anyone. So we choose each instance carefully, allow the imposition, and then notice our preening or resentments.

Being responsible has many complex facets. Coupling responsibility and presence clarifies and simplifies some of those, while cleansing and nourishing our spiritual inner life, and supporting our relationships.

For this week, please practice responsible presence.


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