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For the Week of May 28 - June 3:  The House
The Guggenheim Museum
 
Oh, God, you have probed me.
You know me.
You know when I sit and stand.
You understand my thoughts from afar.
With all my ways, you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue, you know it all. …
You formed my inmost being.
You knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works.
My very self you know.
- Psalm 139:1-4, 13-14
 
Once these qualities you object to are seen in yourself
they can't really terrify you any longer.
They are not in your dark side any more
and don't have so much power over you.
You gain power over them by naming them.
Then there is nothing dark or hidden.
There is Light everywhere.
When you have known yourself on this level
you will know yourself on another level.
- Beryl Pogson, Centenary Fragments
 
Our recent emails have illuminated the human condition by exploring multiplicity (the myriad of personality fragments that take turns speaking in the name of I), and the violence of negative emotions (masquerading as mechanical, life-denying thoughts, feelings, sensations and reactions). The Work tells us that both of these are acquired through cultural conditioning and our particular upbringing and life experiences. And yet … there is more.
 
Last week we spoke of Real I, the begotten authentic one within each of us.  And there is even more: the indwelling Trinitarian Presence. Thomas Keating speaks of this Presence as the foundation of life. It means that God's own life is present and animating us at all times.  But, the "frequency" of this Presence is so high that we can only open to it, consent to it, and accept what our being is capable of receiving. The whole spiritual journey is the unfoldment and gradual assimilation of this Presence, a process supported by the Communion of Saints (what the Work calls the Conscious Circle of Humanity) and leading us powerfully outward to embrace all reality, all creation, all life as it is (Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God).
 
How does all this come together in an analogy that may be useful in conceiving our life and our possibility on this earth?
 
A House under Construction
 
"The Work teaches that Man is an unfinished house. The Work also teaches that Man is a self-developing organism. If a man develops himself aright, he completes the unfinished house of himself. Let us continue with the imagery of the house in the Work. First of all, the Work compares Man with a house of many rooms and three stories. About this the Work says that Man lives in the basement of his house as a rule. This is comparable with a similar idea in the Work that Man lives in sex, movement, eating and drinking. Let us again find a similitude concerning the symbol 'house.' The Work says that a man has his house in disorder. It compares Man with a house in which there is no Master and only one telephone which all the servants use in the name of the Master. In this connection it says that Observing I must establish itself and collect round it all those I's that wish to work. This stage is called Deputy-Steward. At the same time, the Work teaches a great deal about practical work on oneself in regard to separating from negative emotion, and to non-identifying and Self-remembering
 
"The whole conception of esotericism, its whole meaning, is concerning this development of a New Man in oneself. This experiment has been going on as far back as known history. …
 
 What are we working for?
 
"The supreme idea of the Work and of all esoteric teaching in the past has been this new Being that can arise out of our old being, our former being … evolution … by conscious development. It gives an entirely new meaning to one's existence … None of you need be lost in life. None of you need be overshadowed by life if you hold this central idea in your mind, remember and continue to work on oneself. …
 
Why were we not created perfect?
 
"[Ouspensky] said to me earnestly that that was not the idea, the plan, of the universe. To be created perfect would mean that we had no Work to do on ourselves at all. To be created as a self-developing organism is a quite different matter. When we understand the universe as an experiment in self-development, the conception of the universe changes into something adventurous. … Mechanical evolution no doubt exists, over long periods of time, but this does not concern us. But a man can evolve through certain kinds of efforts and if he makes these efforts sincerely through his own understanding, his level of being will change.
 
"Now this vision of life has great force behind it. People, as you know, all tend to complain about their lives. They all think that external circumstances should be much better, and so on. But the Work does not teach this. It says that the circumstances in which you were born are the best for you to work upon … if you receive this Work into your hands and especially into your hearts, then you will find that the circumstances in which you were born are the very things that give you force if you work … So many people say: 'If only.' But what is the use of saying: 'If only,' once you begin to understand that you were born a self-developing organism and that you cannot develop except by conscious efforts … ?"
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Work-Conception of Man as A Self-Developing Organism," May 28, 1949, Vol. 4, pp. 1299-1301
 
Rooms Filled with Treasures
 
Returning to the analogy of the unfinished house, we might think of the house as having many, many rooms on three ordinary levels: the lower story with its features and concerns of movement, survival instinct, sex, and food; the middle story with its features of emotion and concerns of affection and esteem, like and dislike; and the third story with its thoughts, calculations, measurings, and comparisons. This house – largely unexplored – is overflowing with matters of will and attention, levels and scale, consciousness and conscience … very many places, higher and lower, used and unvisited.
 
And there is another, more mysterious fourth level:
 
"He does not suspect the existence of the other rooms which are full of treasures. When he does learn of this, he begins to seek the keys of these rooms and especially of the fourth, the most important room [level] of all.  And when a man has found his way into this room he really becomes the master of his house, for only then does the house belong to him, wholly and forever. The fourth room gives Man true immortality and all religious teachings strive to show the way to it. There are a great many ways, some shorter, some longer, some harder and some easier, but all, without exception, lead or strive to lead, in one direction, that is, to immortality."
– Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "The Four Bodies of Man," January 17, 1943, Vol. 1, pp. 231-232

Meditations
 
"Christ's teaching was essentially and simply to avoid the negativity (calibrated levels [of consciousness] below 200), and the goal of his teaching was for his followers to reach unconditional love (calibration level [of consciousness] 540).  He knew that once the level of unconditional love was reached, the soul's destiny after death was certain and the soul was safe. … "
David R. Hawkins, I: Reality & Subjectivity
 
+
 
"The Work makes one more receptive. For this to happen daring is necessary – not the daring that is based on fear, but on a sense of beauty. … The plant grows through the brick floor; the bird crosses the ocean, it does not think of results, it does not pity itself, it just goes on doing what it does. The enemy to striving is all fear, all self-pity, and insipid feeble manifestations of oneself, all sickness of spirit, all making small things big, all magnifying of handicaps, all giving up trying to learn anything or see anything."
 – Maurice Nicoll, unpublished paper of July 17, 1935, cited in Beryl Pogson, The Work Life
 
Homework
 
Practice daring in the Work through bringing these ideas up to the point of incoming impressions:
 
Dare to:
  • believe that you – and all of us – are in the very place and time and circumstances to build the house of our dreams.
  • know that we have the interior blueprint, the tools, the materials, the Light for this building.
  • work now to non-identify with any inner talking of negation and voices of "if only."
  • find beauty and delight in this Work.
There are numerous points of Work stated herein. All require a certain fearless daring to engage with full intention, will, receptivity and consent, at the same time confronting our powerlessness, nothingness and mortality. Come, our house is on fire, let's go!

- All are encouraged and welcome to attend tonight's class for a review of these teachings and how they are landing in you: 7pm Central Time via Zoom only. 
  1. Click on this link and Zoom should open automatically on your laptop or tablet: https://zoom.us/j/9961019778, or
  2. Open Zoom, click on Join Meeting and enter this meeting ID: 996-101-9778
Resources for Further Study:

- The glossary of terms may be found here.  The class content archive is organized by class and class date.  And an archive of previous emails may be found here
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