Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of June 3, 2013

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Opening Our Heart


Love is not a human invention. And it may not even be something created by nature or biological evolution. Yes, we have certain hormonal and other genetic imperatives toward sex, reproduction, and nurturing and protecting our family. And love certainly enters the picture through those means. Yet love itself is not a result of our genes. Rather, the mechanism of sex may be with us for two reasons: its obvious evolutionary advantages and the love it engenders. After all, what is the purpose of evolution? Is it only to create more “successful” species? And what is the definition of that “success?” Is it only about reproducing and earning a living? What is life for?

It may well be that the story of creation and evolution begins with Love, that the very purpose of creation, of the universe, is to serve as a means for the expression of Love. The closer we come to Love, the more valid that view seems to be. Of course we cannot prove which came first, Love or the universe, but most of us can agree that love is at least part of the fundamental meaning of life, if not its very purpose.

So we turn to look at our own heart, our spiritual heart, to see its state, to see our attitudes toward ourselves and others, to see whether love informs those attitudes, and to the extent it does not, to see why not and what we might be able do about that.

We know there’s something special about love because it manifests, albeit differently, on every level of being we can experience. On the automatic level, love enters primarily as desire, sex, nurturing, and protecting. On the sensitive level, love appears as the feeling of liking. On the conscious level, love becomes intentional consideration for others’ needs and desires. On the level of the creative, sacred light, love comes as the compassion that transcends our personal individuality.

Because our hearts are relatively closed to each other and to ourselves, every major spiritual tradition addresses our heart, and specifically the need to open our heart. Clearly, some people are more open-hearted than others. We admire the open-hearted person and wish to be more like that ourselves. Are we stuck where we are on the spectrum of closed- and open-heartedness? We hope not. We have a certain faith that people can change, that we ourselves can change. We also have fears of changing. Will I still be myself? Will I be used by others? Will I lose my ambition? Will I give away everything I own? In the face of these fears, we again summon faith, the faith that in the transformation toward a more open heart, who I truly am does not change, rather I become liberated to be my Self, liberated from the chains of automatic, half-living and self-centered egoism.

Our self-oriented world-view does seem to have its purpose in our formative years, up into our 20s. It launches us into our life, into society. But like a rocket booster that fails to jettison when no longer needed, egoism becomes a drag on our further journey. Ego cannot love, not even itself, for love accepts and ego does not; it always wants more, demands more. Ego fears the revelation of its own insubstantiality, its own illusory nature. And because of that, our self-centered ego is antithetical to love, because love comes just when our center reverts to openness.

In the coming weeks, we will explore various aspects of open-heartedness and how to move in that direction.

    1. Transcending Ego
    2. Love of Self
    3. The Crucible of Relationship
    4. Love of Nature
    5. Love of Life
    6. Love for All
    7. Love of the Sacred

For this week, look at where you are on the spectrum of closed- and open-heartedness. Are your attitudes informed by courtesy, kindness, respect and compassion — or not? See this in how you actually think, feel, and act toward others and toward yourself.


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