Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of March 1, 2021


Doing What Matters

(Reclaiming Our Life: 8)

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What should I do? We face that question on different scales and in different ways at a multitude of decision points in our life. When it is a real question for us, without an obvious answer, it becomes difficult. We might seek the advice of trusted others. We might consider pros and cons of potential answers. We might imagine alternative futures in which we answer the question differently. We might try out some of the alternatives to get a taste of those choices. We might meditate on or contemplate the question. And then we choose, or put off choosing, which is also a choice. In any case, whatever choice we do make, it is made with uncertainty, because the future is unknown. But more importantly, the question itself is about what future we wish to create.

In considering what to do, we consider what matters, what is important. What is important to me? What is important to the people close to me and how will my choice affect them? What is important to all of us, to the Earth? Again, we face uncertainty in all these questions. Yet if we consistently consider the relative importance of our options, at least our basis for choosing is sound. Consideration of importance in directing our life leads to a more meaningful life.

Much of our time, we do not think about what we should do. We have made choices in the past, submitted to inevitable constraints and now we now live according to those choices and constraints. We can go on like that for years, or perhaps decades, without considering what is important, without considering what we should do, because we are embedded in the well-marked path of life that we have created for ourselves, a path that defines our waking moments.

But the question of what we should do remains relevant even then. Not that we should continually question what we are doing, for that is a recipe for an indecisive and unproductive life. Yet from time to time, reconsideration of how we spend our precious time, inwardly and outwardly, can yield new directions to try out, directions that prove fruitful.

For many of us, for our life to be truly satisfying it must be meaningful. We feel that we need to engage, at least some of the time, in activities that truly matter, and not just for immediate necessities, but for longer term usefulness, perhaps even eternal importance. The latter, of course, refers to our spiritual practice.

How do we spend our time inwardly? This may be a question we rarely, if ever, ask ourselves. The constraints of time obviously apply in our outer life, with all its responsibilities, chores, family, friends, hobbies, pastimes, and opportunities. Yet inwardly also, our time is passing. And inwardly also, we have certain responsibilities, though they are typically unrecognized and seem less urgent than, say, cooking dinner. This is where spiritual inner work comes in. Just as we have important external obligations and opportunities, we also have important inner obligations and opportunities.

The practices of our path open our perceptions and train us to manage and transform inner, spiritual energies. The generation, accumulation, organization, refinement, and emanation of spiritual energies matters to us personally, to the people around us, and to society as a whole. As an example of the latter, if more of the conscious energy were generally available, we would see into things more clearly and be less likely to believe lies and unfounded conspiracy theories. On a personal level, the growth of our being, the development of our soul, depends on several inner energies. On a global scale, more light and love would soften our attitudes toward each other and toward this planet that gives us a home. In these ways and many more, our spiritual inner work matters.

Reconsideration of how we spend our inner time is just as important as reconsideration of our outer activities. Inwardly, this means first noticing how we are, noticing what goes on in us. How much of our time are we actively or receptively present? How much of our time are we aware of and inhabiting our body, our sensation body? To what extent do we buy into thoughts that are critical and rejecting of ourselves or others? To what extent do we run with value-destroying emotions untouched by kindness, appreciation, acceptance, and joy? Seeing all these many ways that we let our inner time slip by unproductively is sobering, and can spur us toward more presence, more kindness, more hope, and deep satisfaction.

For this week, see whether it is time to reconsider what you do outwardly and inwardly.


     

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