Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice



Inner Work

For the week of: December 22, 2001


The simple practice of everyday courtesy serves as a mirror and antidote to self-centeredness. Acts of courtesy raise us out of our self-referential dream-world, where the people around us mean little more than cardboard cutouts or, at best, potential sources for advancing our personal agenda. Courtesy arises out of seeing the other person as being human like us. This straightforward recognition in itself strikes a blow against our egoism and self-centeredness for it indiscriminately puts others on an equal footing with us.

To be courteous also calls us to be alert in the present moment, noticing opportunities for courtesy. It requires us to inwardly slow down enough, to forgo our hurry and worry enough, to overcome our laziness, habits, and fears enough to engage in courteous behavior without regard for personal gain.

Each gesture of courtesy aligns us with the Great Heart of the World, strengthening our true will and creating an atmosphere of kindness and generosity. When someone acts with courtesy toward us, we naturally grow more willing to be courteous to others. Thus, simple courtesy creates a positive feedback loop in society, as well as in our own heart.

The more we can open to others, even in small courtesies, the more we have the clarity of conscience that enables us to open to the sacred depths within. Purity of heart is a necessary condition for entering the deeper realms of the spirit. The practice of courtesy and, more broadly, kindness supports our purification, the diminishing of self-centeredness. It helps expand our center and concern from self to the Great Self of All.

Even moments when we see our own unwillingness to be courteous, if faced squarely, can serve to awaken us to our spiritual limitations. Kindness grows through practice, but also by honestly, and without excuses, seeing our lack of it.

For this week, practice courtesy.


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