External vs. internal considering

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Fourth Way
Fourth Way

In Fourth Way parlance, external considering is the practice of taking others into account when acting, seeing their situation as it is and accordingly making life easy both for oneself and for others. Internal considering is the opposite – acting out of a subjective inner state and view of the situation to which one is attached, with any of a number of consequences.

External considering involves making a realistic evaluation of another's situation and acting in ways which take this into account in a positive sense. It is however not the same thing as being socially polite or considerate, although it may be expressed in this manner.

The key concept is to be aware of and to adapt oneself to the level of being and knowledge of others. Thus, one of the things external considering involves is to avoid talking about things which would simply offend others' beliefs or simply not be understood. (See strategic enclosure for more on this.) More generally, external considering relates to an idea of good will towards the environment, in the sense of letting the environment be as it wishes and responding to its requests in a manner that honors its right to be as it will.

External considering is rooted in objective awareness of the environment. Its opposite, internal considering, is rooted in attachment to a subjective inner state, to one's own comfort of preconceptions or desires.

External and internal considering are not always outwardly distinguishable, although inwardly they are fundamentally different. One may for example be socially pleasing purely in order to uphold or reinforce one's own idea of oneself as a 'good person.' Or, be nice out of fear of being judged by others. This is internal considering and preoccupation with how others/the self perceive the self.

In some cases, external considering may involve withholding information that is seen as inappropriate, dangerous or simply unlikely to be well received. An internally considering person may also do this, but then again the motive is different.

We cannot codify with external criteria which action constitutes which kind of considering. The concepts are related to service to others vs service to self and to objectivity vs subjectivity. Usually the term considering is applied in the context of personal interactions.

Only through having external considering can one serve others. This requires responsiveness and a sense of objectivity and awareness of what is right action for the given situation. Serving in the sense of merely carrying out commands is not external considering.

Internal considering can be likened to man's inner predator. It feeds itself by engaging in subjective fantasies where it thinks it is other than it is. It will also seek to gain external confirmation for its distorted self-image by manipulating others to confirm it in its views. Man may go to much trouble to make an impression, simply in order to have his own illusory, internally considered self-image reflected back to himself from others. All success in such manipulation feeds the predator and confirms it in its internal considering and accordingly removes the center of gravity of man's inner life away from objectivity. Internal considering is in very concrete terms man's natural enemy who seeks to prevent man from being himself. The predator will at all times prefer an illusion of virtue to the naked truth about itself. Still, it is not useful to morally judge or condemn the predator, just like it is useless to condemn a cat for eating mice. Still, one must disengage from identifying with this predator. Claiming to Work while engaging in internal considering is a contradiction in terms. The forms of internal considering can however be extremely subtle and one cannot always detect them, thus constant vigilance is required. The predator of internal considering may well claim to engage in merciless self-observation, to aspire to consciousness and being and any other virtues and even trick itself to believe it is progressing towards these goals while all the while only feeding its vanity and desire for recognition.

Exterior man needs the support of a group in order to help him detect the many tricky ways in which internal considering inserts itself in his perception and actions.

See also