Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of August 14, 2006

Being Useful

A primary source of true satisfaction in life consists of being useful. Though innumerable opportunities to be useful present themselves to us, many questions arise. Do we recognize the opportunities? Which do we choose? How do we maximize our usefulness?

The basic principle of being useful involves the creation of order rather than disorder. In the material world, this can range from cleaning, cooking, building, repairing, and putting things in their place to un-polluting, conserving, and creating. In the inner world, order means presence, seeing clearly, and not basing our identity in things, thoughts, or emotions. In the spiritual world, the work of order means the work of prayer and of love, of non-separation from others. In all of this, quantity counts but so does the quality of one’s usefulness: the higher the quality, the higher the order.

The question of how to be useful depends on many factors. Foremost among these is our own possibilities, our talents, style, propensities, knowledge, skills, and level of being. We may need to hone our skills, learn new knowledge, and develop our talents. We all need to cultivate our being.

Consider the possible domains of usefulness: to family, to others with whom we have contact, to society, to the earth, to the spirit, and to oneself. Through their interrelatedness, usefulness to one inevitably helps the other domains as well. Nevertheless, this breakdown into domains does provide a basis for assessing our usefulness.

How do we apply ourselves in the various domains? With other people, for example, simple acts of courtesy and kindness, concern and support, wit, patience, and compassion are all ways of being useful. With society, our skills and their application, our integrity and creativity prove useful. With the earth and its life, appreciation and responsibility are needed. For the spirit, our inner work of meditation, presence, and/or prayer feed the necessary energies up the chain of being. These also serve to enhance our own being, as do self-discipline, care, and exercise for our body, mind, and heart.

The importance of being useful goes well beyond bringing satisfaction to our life. Any act of being beneficially useful is an act of will that aligns us with and serves the Divine Will.

For this week, examine and assess your own usefulness. Can you be more useful? Do you need to change what you do in any of the domains of usefulness?


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