Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of: May 3, 2004


So much of what we say concerns people who are not there to participate in the conversation. And so much of that, perhaps subtly, judges, criticizes, maligns or generally puts down the person spoken about. We know this as harmful gossip or talking behind someone’s back. Sounds ugly, and it is. Yet we engage in this behavior all too often.

If we could see how much harm this does us by feeding our egoism and by feeding our destructive self-criticism, we would stop immediately. When we speak, or even think, in a personally judgmental, faultfinding, disapproving, blaming or disparaging manner, it strengthens the side of us that seeks to diminish other people and, by comparison, build our own ego. The unfortunate result is a wall of isolation around us. Furthermore, the judging mind readily turns to self-judgment: we love and accept neither other people nor ourselves. Compassion weakens as we harden our hearts in such negative gossip.

Fortunately, the converse also holds true: refraining from harmful gossip helps free our heart and mind to be more accepting and kind toward ourselves and others.

For this week, notice your intention when you talk about someone. Are your words critical or harmful? Do your comments distance you from the person commented upon? Whenever possible, extend this noticing to your judgmental thoughts about others.



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