Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again. The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
- John 3:7-8
What is a good householder?
Drawing on the work of the theologian, John S. Dunne, Fr. Thomas Keating presents the spiritual journey as a pathway of consents drawing us through each stage of a conscious life, from infancy to old age and ultimately, death. The Four Consents offer us a way of answering the question, "What is God asking of me now in this life I've been given?"
The Work concept of good householder relates closely to the second consent, in which we're asked to affirm and explore the goodness of all of our human potentialities:
"[We’re] invited to accept the full development of our being and our talents, our creative energies. In other words, our capacity to do, and the goodness of that capacity … our creativity, our capacity to relate to other people, to emerge out of our isolated little world of a child, and to begin to assume responsibility for ourselves, to think of our future life, and so on."
- Thomas Keating, The Spiritual Journey series, Part 3, "The Four Consents Part 1," transcript
The Work idea of good householder also corresponds with the First Obligolnian Striving: To have in [our] ordinary being-existence everything satisfying and really necessary for [our] planetary body.
"As self-developing organisms, we begin as good householders – we conscientiously fulfill our responsibilities in life, to ourselves and others. We make the effort and learn the skills necessary to fulfill our human needs for community, psychological health, productive work, nutritious food, enough sleep and exercise, adequate clothing and safe shelter, maintained in order, beauty and simplicity. All of this is often referred to as our first education."
- The Five Strivings, The Journey School email for January 30 – February 5, 2020
In our first education we have become – or are becoming – good at something. We have the discipline, the inquisitiveness and the teachability to acquire life wisdom and apply it. We have made the effort to achieve life goals.
"Unless we [become good householders] we are ghosts – or rather, tramps. We are not real. Now the Work says unless the 'level of good householder' is attained the Work cannot act on us aright. We have no life-wisdom. We expect miracles where none can happen. We have nothing laid down in centers of any value to us. Nor do we know what effort means in its most ordinary sense. Everything disappoints us – but it does not occur to us that we have to make an effort so that everything does not disappoint us."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "Self-Transformation," June 12, 1948, Vol. 3, p. 1180
In the Work, one of the most important understandings of a good householder is one who no longer believes in life for its own sake.
"There is the householder who believes in life and can deal with his affairs reasonably and again there is the householder in the Work sense who is well orientated to life and knows his job, but who does not believe in life. That is, he does not believe that life will get him anywhere in the direction in which he wishes to go and has the feeling that life is not real although he continues to do his duty – that is, he sees the real value of things. In other words, he sees how false the aims of life are and how, in so many cases, nothing is attained."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "Good Householder," March 17, 1951, Vol. 4, p. 1457
"I can well imagine a scientist saying: 'I am sick of making atom-bombs,' or a financier saying: 'I am sick of money,' or a politician saying: 'I am sick of politics,' or a soldier saying: 'I am sick of being a soldier.' Yes, one can begin to come to the end of life-meanings. Then what? What else is there? Now this Work is not about transforming outer life, or about transforming the atom, or one's financial or political or social position. It is about transforming oneself. It is about completing this incomplete thing called oneself – this thing born as a self-developing organism."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "Self-Transformation," June 12, 1948, Vol. 3, p. 1180
"A basic truth to be realized in the process is that there is no possible, actual source of happiness outside of one's self."
- David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Transcending the Levels of Consciousness
When we reach this point, we start seeking for something different – for depth, for answers, for what is beyond the level of the ordinary life script. Our attention, our intention, our whole orientation radically changes. Like a baby turning head-downward in the womb, we begin the process of being born into a new life, a life guided and directed by Spirit.
Those in the Fourth Way come to realize that the circumstances of our lives – family, jobs, relationships, and recurrence – all provide great opportunity to self-observe, non-identify and Self-remember toward healing and transformation. At first, we are cautioned to change nothing externally. Why? Because we are not yet conscious enough to see and choose from a different level; fragmented by the multiplicity, the will is unreliable. And we change nothing in the beginning because the circumstances of our lives, as they are, are the ripe conditions for our awakening. Later on, as inner change occurs, life realigns and reorders itself accordingly.
Along the way, our lives may manifest greater "success" (as defined by Western culture). We may find ourselves thrust into situations or roles for which we do not feel qualified. Conversely – and even simultaneously – our lives may take on a Job-like quality; we may seem to "fail" again and again or find that cherished people or roles – pieces of our lives and identity are being gradually withdrawn or are – in an instant – gone.
Inevitably, our understanding of the words, "failure" and "success" is transformed. There is no failure; there is only sleep. When we awaken from having been asleep, every twist and turn of life and every missed opportunity to keep our aim expands our consciousness of what previously has been obscured in us. And though we can see, celebrate and testify to progress, there is no success, in terms of final "graduation." However, we grow in trust that nothing is permanent and gratitude that Divine Life is drawing us inexorably into and through the experiences, relationships and revelations needed for our evolution in and as Christ.
To manifest full humanity, we are called to both life and Life.
"Put as simply as possible … Man is both Heaven and Earth and when he reaches a certain point in his development in life which is called good householder, which we might represent as being at the level of Mi, he cannot grow unless he turns his face the other way and begins to take in the spiritual meaning of this Work. Yet at the same time, owing to this possibility, he must hold both Earth which is below him and Heaven which is above."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Position of Man in the Ray of Creation," July 22, 1950, Vol. 4, p. 1411
"When you stop comparing, the value of what [the billionaire philanthropist] has done exactly equals the value of what you have done. You're benefiting humanity every time you do the dishes, sweep the floor, or drive your kids to school. Benefiting one person equals benefiting a million. When you do your job completely – that is, when you do it with a clear mind – you're absorbed in the action, you disappear into it. The only things that exist are the dish, the soapy water, the sponge, the hand moving in its own rhythms. There's no self in it, no other. You are not the doer; you're being done. … Just say yes. Just do the dishes. To say yes to that voice, to enter that great experiment, is true co-creation, and you lose yourself in it, you become it. And when you don't want to do the dishes, that's ok too; just notice. This isn't about guilt or shame. Just notice that you don't … And maybe next time, you find that the dishes are done and you wonder who did them, and someone says it was you."
- Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell, A Mind At Home With Itself
- Our homework stays the same as last week: Work with a specific event or relationship in your life and intentionally re-evaluate it as your personal Fourth Way curriculum. What is it teaching you about yourself and where you are called to grow? What is being revealed for your transformation?
- All are encouraged and welcome to attend tonight's class for more about working as a good householder: 7pm Central Time in The Church of Conscious Harmony sanctuary or via Zoom: