Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice



If we take a careful look at our attitudes toward others and toward our self, we soon come to a whole set of questions. Is my attitude respectful, or not? Whom do I respect? Do I treat everyone with respect? Do I consider anyone to be below me or unworthy of respect? Am I inwardly disrespectful, while outwardly feigning respect? Am I indifferent toward others, neither respectful nor disrespectful? Is indifference a form of disrespect?

Do I respect myself? Do I consider myself to be below others or unworthy of respect? Do I consider every person to be equal, in the sense that we are all children of the One God?

Respect can be seen as two-dimensional: inner-outer and self-other. This makes four general forms of respect: inwardly respectful toward our self, inwardly respectful toward others, outwardly respectful toward our self, and outwardly respectful toward others. One example of being outwardly respectful toward our self is in proper care of our body.

Working on respect has several important ramifications for our path. First, it is a matter of conscience, of doing the right thing. Being disrespectful, whether by our speech and actions or by our thoughts and attitudes, pushes us further from conscience and thus further from God.

Second, respect is a harbinger of, and doorway to, love. We may find it difficult to work directly toward love, to even recognize love or how to approach it. But respect is clear and obvious. Even when we feel disrespect inwardly, we can act respectfully as a first step toward feeling it.

Third, the practice of respect directly confronts many of our attachments and judgments, our self-image, self-criticism, indignation, envy, inferiority or superiority, self-importance or self-hatred, and so on. The way of respect shines a bright light on the self-centered ways of our personality. Thus the discipline of respect leads toward freedom.

Respect for others begins with respect for our self, the quiet dignity that derives from self-acceptance, from understanding our own destructive emotions, and from keeping our word. But respect for others, whether or not we deem them worthy of it, also reinforces respect for our self.

Seeing our own inner lack of respect shows us the path toward cultivating it, toward intentionally adopting a genuinely respectful attitude. And respect, coupled with the rest of our spiritual practice, leads to humility and love. Ultimately we may recognize the one quality worthy of unlimited respect, both in ourselves and others: the spark of Divinity.

See aslo: Respectful Presence


About Inner Frontier                                    Send us email 

Copyright © 2001 - 2022 Joseph Naft. All rights reserved.