The Inner and Outer Path – Part One

Posted by Julie Elliot – guest contributor Janet Gear

Photograph by Rhonda Pigott, alum of Pacific Jubilee

Photograph by Rhonda Pigott, alum of Pacific Jubilee

One of the best things about my role as “Communications” for Pacific Jubilee is that people communicate with me! After I posted a blog about Janet Gear winning a prestigious prize, I was pleased to have an exchange of emails with her and to strike up our association again. Janet was gracious enough to retrieve her notes from the residency I had referred to and when I read them I immediately saw another blog in the making. This material is so relevant for those of us on the spiritual path – engaged in different ways in the Great Work. When I asked Janet if she’d be willing to share her wisdom with the Jubilee community she said, “By all means, I’d be so glad for the message of the inner and outer path to find its way into the blogosphere!” So, then I had my title too.

I’m presenting Janet’s thoughts in two parts. Today she writes about how we make a difference in the world and “how then shall we live?”

By way of preliminary remarks, let me say that I believe spiritual work is the work of awakening to what our life has been teaching us all along…. This may be at the heart of the Platonic wisdom that asserts that all teaching is really an exercise of helping people remember what they already know. I believe that life teaches us what we ask it to teach us. So, in so far as you have asked yourself “what can I do to make a difference in the world?” or something along those lines, I believe you will discover or recover from your lived experience what you most need to learn about that, not just today but for as long as you dare to hold that very powerful question.

For the record, “What can I do to make a difference in the world” is as big as a question gets. It is literally a question of biblical proportion. It is the question of our ancestors the prophets who asked: “how then shall we live?” It is a profoundly human question, and multi-layered. It’s an existential question about the purpose of our lives; an ethical question about what to do with our lives; a very practical question about how to live our lives; and a spiritual question (obviously how you arrived at it) about inhabiting our lives.

So when we ask a question like this, if we’re honest, we don’t really want to be told an answer – that would be a waste of a good question and an answer would be too small anyway. What we’re looking for is a way to have the question lead us somewhere, somewhere bigger than we are now, somewhere deeper than what we understand now, wider than our capacity to love now, freer than how we live now. That’s where we hope a question like this will lead us. A question this big, when we ask it from the heart, when we ask it with something at stake, is a companion for the long haul.

Read the original blog about Janet Gear here.

If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch with Julie Elliot, Communications for Pacific Jubilee. Email julie(at)pacificjubilee(dot)ca

The Jubilee Programs offer practical learning in spiritual growth, soul development and the art of spiritual direction. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee