Each of us has gifts we can share with the world- gifts of kindness, compassion, understanding, dignity and respect. Our presence is the ground of such generosity, the more deeply we can be in the world, the greater the gifts that we can share.
The Inner Work establishes us in open presence, trains us in how to maintain that composure and to notice the ways in which we waver and wander. The Inner Work deepens our familiarity with our true nature, our natural condition, and reveals what is most meaningful to share in the world.
The bridge from the Inner Work to the Outer Work is that very presence. The Inner Work introduces us to the basic dignity and composure of open presence, and the Outer Work focuses on bringing that presence into the world and sharing it.
The Outer Work is based on engagement and interaction with the world around us. It begins with conversation and listening. We start with our family and friends, our workplace, and the communities in which we live and serve.
Recognizing our own innate value and basic dignity, we recognize that our contribution matters. We recognize that the unique way that we see the world matters, what we have to say matters, our choices and actions matter, each having their own significance and place.
To matter does not mean to be important and it definitely doesn't mean to be right. It simply means that our thoughts, intentions and actions impact and shape the world around us, however small those interactions. We are active participants in shaping the reality of things. We are not simply a passive bystander or inconsequential witness or victim to what happens in the world or in our lives.
The Outer Work starts with presence and then simply noticing the impulse to stand back, to hold back or keep quiet. Notice the fear, the turning away, the unwillingness to acknowledge or be present with what is happening around you.
Simply notice. Don't judge. Don't indulge negative self-talk. Simply notice what you are holding onto for safety. This acknowledgement and recognition is enough in the beginning of the Outer Work. It is called work because it is not easy. Our habits and fears and social conditioning are strong. It is a practice, not something that happens all at once.
The practice of bringing presence forward into our daily lives means being open, available and responsive. It means showing up, standing up, raising your hand, speaking up. It means being present in the conversation, present in the work, present with arms extended and hands raised.
The Outer Work that we are talking about forces us to be a beginner and to have a willingness to learn. You identify with being a contributor, someone who steps forward to help, someone willing to put in the effort. As a beginner you will fail, and fail again, on the road to better. You'll ask for help, and help others along the way.
The Outer Work, like the Inner Work, is a process of unfolding and discovery. It is not a final state fully achieved. There is no right answer, no single best way, no clear path on what to do next. It is a lived experience based on a life dedicated to practice.
The Outer Work is not the goal of the Inner Work, but rather it is the expression or creative play of open presence expressing itself. It is the energetic potential of the ground of our being as it interacts with the world around us. As such, the Outer Work always relies upon and is built upon a strong connection and commitment to the Inner Work of honoring our potential and grounding ourselves in the composure of open presence.