Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of: July 29, 2002


The inevitability of pain while living in a human body does not imply the inevitability of suffering. Indeed, the Buddha and others taught paths toward liberation from suffering. The root causes of suffering are attachment, aversion and identification. Difficult sensory perceptions, such as physical pain, need not cause us suffering. If we can open to the direct perception of the painful sensations without adding layers of emotional reactions, the frantic need to make it stop, or even simple aversion, then we do not suffer despite the pain.

Most of our suffering, though, has nothing to do with physical pain but rather with emotional reactions. Whenever we fall into anger, we suffer acutely. Disappointed hopes and unmet expectations bring suffering. Fear, greed, jealousy, self-pity and other destructive emotions define the spectrum of our false suffering.

However some forms of suffering, like grief or severe illness, are real and unavoidable. Those occasions prompt us to seek solace by turning toward the Highest One in prayer. But the vast majority of our suffering is an unnecessary byproduct of our egoism, of who we think we are.

If we can but step aside ever so slightly and let go of ourselves, let go of the holding on that causes our suffering, we may enter the natural joy of living, the fresh air of freedom. Even brief moments of partial freedom from ourselves, from our illusion of separateness, can reinvigorate our lives and renew our inner work.

For this week, notice instances in which you suffer, remember that nearly all your suffering is not necessary, and let go of it a little more.


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