Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Commitment to and Confidence in the Spiritual Path

Commitment means that we know, in our heart of hearts, that we shall persevere in a course of action, come what may. Good parents are defined by their utter commitment to the welfare of their children, regardless of whatever challenges may arise. On the ground, when we meet the unforeseen events brought by time, creativity and compromise may be necessary; we may need to bend without breaking our commitment.

What causes us to commit ourselves to a course of action? In the case of parenting, it is love and conscience, knowing intuitively what’s right, what matters. In the case of the spiritual path, it is the same. Love and intuiting the truth about our world bring us toward a stronger, more all-encompassing commitment to the spiritual journey. The circumstances precipitating commitment vary as widely as do people. The “how I got started on the path” stories always fascinate, with their coincidences and unexpected episodes.

The spiritual quest begins with the excitement of a new discovery, a new love, a new world. We eagerly learn the methods and practice them with zest. Our teachers inspire confidence in the possibility of transformation and arouse our hope that our own sincere efforts will carry us far along the path. Early results of our practice surprise and delight us, confirming the rightness of the approach and establishing our confidence in the path.

Then a dry spell enters. With no noticeable progress or evident movement, we seem to be treading water. Seeing how we are inwardly, always identifying with thoughts, emotions, and body, gradually builds a weariness of this ordinary way of living. We cannot stop our quest, but we also cannot see our way forward. The weariness, however, leaves us nowhere else to turn. Faith and commitment enable us to persevere through such spiritual deserts. Then somehow we bridge the abyss. For example, we realize that we practice because we must. And furthermore, that the source of this “must” lies beyond our consciousness, in the unseen realm that gives faith. This realization leads to confidence that we shall not stop, shall never give up. Our inner work reaches a new tempo and depth, allowing confidence in our own eventual transformation to take root, further bolstering our practice. We reach unexpected experiences of higher states and intimations of possibilities of deeper forms of service. This reinvigorates our commitment to the path toward greater being.

A new difficulty arises, however, where despite our continuing best efforts, we reach another plateau of no further progress. Our confidence in our practice and in our own future transformation evaporates for a time. At a loss, we turn toward the higher and ask for help. Then our confidence shifts from ourselves to the Divine. We discover the faith that eventually the door to love and the higher worlds will open even to us.

And so we continue. Sometimes our movement is passionate, even desperate. Commitment and desperation form two wings of the same force, the flame of longing for the Real. Desperation combines this intense longing with the dissatisfaction of separation and the fear of failure in the quest. Desperation burns urgently and transports us to new peaks, but soon flickers. Commitment, however, remains to warm and sustain us through the inevitable droughts. The basic longing behind both commitment and desperation moves us, offers us tastes of new worlds, and brings confidence in ourselves, in the path, and in the Sacred.



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