Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of: March 1, 2004

My Universe

Our ego, or who we think we are, is not a thing but rather a process, a malleable set of self-centered attitudes which typically guide the software of our mind and heart. These attitudes focus on and purport to emanate from our "self." Looking deeply, though, we may see that no such self exists and that the ego attitudes themselves create the illusion of this self. However, we implicitly trust our concept of our self as a person separate from others. We believe in our self more than we believe in God or anything else. Our ego is our god. This is the core illusion of our life and the process of dispelling it forms the axis of any true spiritual path.

We fear that losing our ego would mean losing ourselves, that we would wander the streets babbling gibberish. But on the contrary, the great teachers have shown us that true sanity and real maturity derive from freeing oneself from oneself, from the ego process, from our illusory, self-referential "I." Like a set of Russian dolls, the deeper we look into ourselves, the more emptiness we find. Our seeing reveals our ego as empty of substance and that very emptiness opens our way into the spiritual world, into love. In this opening we discover the heart of compassion for ourselves, our body, our family, our neighbor, and our society. But as long as the ego process continues to seduce our faith, we remain enclosed in our own little shell, seeing our "self" and its desires as paramount.

The process of liberation begins with clear seeing and proceeds by progressively letting go of our illusory self. To see ego in action means to see all our contractive, self-centered impulses: the anger, grasping, fear, conceit, indignation, vanity, over-indulgence, self-pity, the self-focused daydreams, the firmly upheld opinions, the backstabbing, the insulting humor and gossip, the desire to take more, and the whole universe that revolves around "me." To see any of this within the stream of moments that make up our day requires a willingness to see our truth, an accepting and unflinching approach, and a grounding in presence. What we do not see controls us and binds us to a world of unreality, dependence, and dissatisfaction. Each increment of freedom unburdens us of some of the weight of our "self," allowing us to breathe easier and discover less ephemeral satisfactions.

For this week, look to see the self-centered reflections of egoism in your thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions.



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