Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of: November 15, 2004

Self Image, False Image

We labor through life under the weight of a complex, loosely-integrated set of assumptions, attitudes, self-stories, material goals, dreams, fantasies, habits and obsessions that form our image of who we are. We take this pockmarked image to be our truest reality and we vigorously defend it, nurture it, and act on its impulses. We are enslaved by this self-image, this pseudo-image that does us such a great injustice by hiding our authentic Self. This personality image, whose fundamentals we acquire in childhood through the exigencies of family situation and haphazard conditioning, becomes such a comfortable mask that we forget it’s only a mask and adopt it as our true face.

Inner freedom begins in seeing. But like water for fish or air for land animals, our personality is too all-encompassing for us to readily become aware of it. One approach is to notice how it colors our perceptions. If I am overly concerned with thinking I am too fat, or too short, or too poor, or too dumb, or too something, then my inner world revolves around that issue, boxing me into a small, partial, filtered view of myself and the world. What I see when I look at other people then is whether they are fat or thin, short or tall, poor or rich, etc. My inner response to others too often consists solely of comparing myself to them along the dimensions of primary concern to my personality. If I can see no further than my self-image, my pseudo-identity, if all my perceptions are tainted in that way, then I miss the real splendor both of others and myself.

For this week, notice how you see other people and what this says about your own self-image.



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