Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of April 26, 2021

Serving the Future

(Long-Form Living: 4)

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When we save for some long-term financial goal, like a down payment on a home or for retirement, we stretch our present moment far into the future. This is an act of faith that we will be there in that future to benefit from our sacrifice in the present. It can also be defensive, attempting to prevent a problematic future, such as an impoverished old age. Whatever the motivation, we are acting in the present to serve the future.

Big positive changes and major life goals take time and effort to realize. While the present is already committed, the future is open for us to shape or not. If not, if we drift along aimlessly, our future will shape itself haphazardly. If we work at something, say to learn a musical instrument, devoting part of each day to studying and practicing, then gradually we will improve, our playing will become valuable to us and not just a chore.

All of this, of course, also holds true for spiritual practice. For example, meditation can at first be difficult. It can be painful or boring or repetitive, or seem to be a waste of time. But if we persist, it deepens, shows many benefits, and we begin to look forward to our sittings, even to the point of enjoying them or finding essential satisfaction in them. Continuing, we even begin to suspect that the benefits go beyond ourselves, accruing to others as well, to family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. If we become less self-centered, our conscience, our innate kindness, and our intimate connection with all life, more readily manifest in our actions. If we ourselves are more at peace, we carry that peace into our life, into our interactions with other people.

When we are around a person who is at peace, who is not pushing their agenda toward us, who is not judging us, who is just there with us, we can allow ourselves to relax in their presence. Their peace brings us a little more peace than we might otherwise have. In such ways, meditation and, more generally, spiritual practice are acts of service. Because their effects deepen and multiply as our practice continues over time, they are acts of serving the future.

More directly, we can envision a bright future for our descendants, and for the society and planet they will live in. As part of our spiritual practice, we can take a few moments each day to recreate, with the whole of our presence, that vision and thereby give it strength. We can create that vision on different time scales, both within and beyond our own lifetime.

Having that contact with the future helps us see what matters now. Aligning our choices and actions in the present with our vision of the future helps move that vision toward realization. Each one of us can accept our personal measure of responsibility for the future and help move us toward the beneficent world of light that we all wish for. Despite the seemingly irresistible but inchoate forces shaping our world, our individual efforts, small as they necessarily are, can add up to that world-shaping scale and create that future. The light can only enter through us. And even a little light can dispel much darkness.

We can consider the future in terms of the positive evolution of humanity. What would an evolved humanity be like, on different time scales, both individually and as a society? Can we move toward that world through our own life? Certainly, how we raise and educate our children is key. What would need to be different about that? Our continuing development as adults is also key. Our personal evolution through spiritual practice is part of that. How would the evolved humans of the future treat each other? How would they treat the other forms of life on this planet? What would it mean for humanity to be spiritualized? From such questions, we come toward our own role, shaped by the unique set of skills, qualities, and potentialities we each possess.

For this week, please envision our collective future. See how you are serving and could serve that future.


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