Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Motivation: Our Need To Walk The Path

In response to serious life challenges, people sometimes discover the motivation to seek spiritual transformation. In those difficult times, the basic, unanswerable questions of life spring to the surface. The forces that normally drive us, the petty and banal, temporarily lose their allure, thrusting us into a void of confusion. Unable to fill that void with our usual busyness, we begin again to ask what our life is for, what is truly worth the precious time allotted to us. Love and kindness toward our family and neighbors prove to be a staple of any life of integrity. Beyond that, we seek meaningful and productive work.

Still, the unknown depths call to us, an intimation of utter fulfillment, a whisper of a larger world, a step toward the irresistible and infinite. We begin to suspect that for our life to be whole, we need to do all we can to join our own heart to the Great Heart of the World. We realize that if we wish for fulfillment as we approach our death, to look back on a life well-lived, we need hew to a spiritual path that flows toward the Ocean of Wonder, playing our own small but unique role in serving the Boundless Responsibility.

Again and again, times of trouble or even simple awareness of the passage of our time remind us of this truth, that to lead a substantive life we must work indefatigably to purify and enrich our inner world, while serving the outer. In the storms of time our spiritual life strengthens us and sees us through, becomes our source of hope, our rock in a sea of uncertainty. Our appreciation for the spiritual depths grows.

When the troubles subside and ease returns, we need to work diligently and steadily, to remember the truths we know, to maintain our direction, our search. In times of ease, our energy abounds and our heart may overflow in gratitude, our perceptions may suddenly open wider, pointing toward the Unlimited Joy.

Yet motivation for the path may also be rooted in factors other than life difficulties or the questions they force upon us. Many come to a spiritual path out of an urge to better themselves, to seek self-development, to improve their effectiveness in life, perhaps to improve their image with themselves and others. That is the paradigm of “New Age” spirituality. As we progress in our practice, our motivation may shift to seeking better states of consciousness, to enjoy the delightful tastes of the higher worlds. Deep states of meditation entice us with their refined and rarefied ecstasies.

But as our spirituality matures, we begin to see meditation as a form of service. Our motivation shifts again toward maximizing and fulfilling our ability to love and to serve, outwardly as well as inwardly. Rather than seeking to better ourselves, we seek to go beyond our small self. A profound longing for the Divine, for completion, overtakes us heart and soul. Nothing short of the Real can quench this thirst. Then our inner work embraces a new urgency. We enter a new depth and continuity of spiritual practice.

Motivation is our will and our will is our I. So it can happen that we find ourselves wholly engaged in the path, yet unable to identify our motive or its source. This is rightly called faith. Our will is orthogonal to consciousness, seeing but unseen.

Whatever our motivation may be, the path, held to steadfastly, eventually transforms that motivation and thereby transforms us. So whether we desire to inflate ourselves, or we see the value in deflating our egos, the path welcomes us, loosening our mask, bit by bit, to reveal the unconditioned core of freedom and the choice of true responsibility.


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