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The Work and the Wrong Love

The Work must become a reality to you. Unless it becomes real to you, it cannot help you.
You must make room for the Work. If you remain full of yourself, the Work has no place to enter. If you give up nothing, it will give you nothing. It will give you nothing, because it cannot.
If you give up nothing for its sake, it will never believe you, and if it never believes you, you will never will it. If you never will the Work, you will never do the Work. You will never believe it if you never acknowledge it and you will never will it if you never believe it.
If you never believe it you will remain in your present beliefs, which are no beliefs, if they are beliefs of the senses or opinions.
If you do not believe the Work it will not believe you. It will not come into you and converse with you and shew you what you might possibly do and where you might possibly go. You will never know the extraordinary pleasure of these conversations which in my case were at first external and are now internal - the pleasure of knowing that the Work is yours, not as a thing in the world that can be stolen nor as your own jealous, exclusive property, but as something permitted you.
I do not collect and dwell on these thoughts whose patterns are formed by such emotions as jealousy, envy and hatred, because these come from the self-love which is exclusive. The pleasure of gratified self-love is no longer pleasure but rather has a feeling of being suffocated. It is no longer self-love that makes me seek continuance in this Work. If it were, I could not continue in it. If your aim in this Work is only from the self-love, you will come up against a barrier. How could it be otherwise ?
If you have no pleasant places in your heart but those of the triumphing self-love, how can you love the Work? One is one′s love. You may know that already, but that does not mean that you have seen the quality of your love. How can you reach greater meaning if your greatest meaning consists in having your own way, which is what the self-love always wants and seeks ?
When you reach the barrier due to self-love something has to yield, you know. Something has to cry, you know. Yes - but then, after, there is release. You will not resent as you did. Instead of your heart being in self-love and so always being hurt, there will be something more delicate and lovely. Instead of the self-love leading you, you will begin to be led by the Work. You will let something in, that, perhaps, you never realized you were keeping out.
You cannot get to supra-sensual thinking - that is to psychological (or spiritual) thinking - through the self-love. Sensual thinking and self-love are conjoined.

The "I"s that have helped you reach to your position in life will not necessarily help you in the Work. You cannot take this Work in your life-stride, or your career "I"s. Some life "I"s will be useful, not as leaders but taking a second place. Your life "I"s belong to the parts of centres that life has developed in you - the "I"s relating to your job. But it is other parts of you that have to become receptive.
Do you think of yourself as being fairly successful in life? Then do not imagine those "I"s will make you so in the Work. The "I"s that make or made you successful in life are not adapted to grasp the meaning of the Work. They belong to the customary, to what you know, to your main street. The seeds of the Work cannot grow there. They grow only at some distance from the wayside - out in your countryside.
That is why you cannot take the Work in your life-stride, which puzzles many people. That also is why the Work teaches we have to strip off clothing - layers formed by life - so as to get to what is more us. The seeds of the Work sown in the self-love are not rightly rooted. Although they may grow formatorily on the Knowledge side, it will not be so on the Being side.
The Work is to open something that was shut before which helps understanding. The self-love will not yield to love. This is always so in all things and in all directions, for love is at the expense of the self-love. So a barrier is reached that I have seen many reach, and one that I reached and stayed at until I was shewn the stature of the Work and my own, and something gave way.
For long I wanted to be first in the eyes of my teacher. I wanted this more than I wanted the Work. You must understand clearly what I mean here. I wanted my self-love gratified. The self-love always wants to be first somehow and it can be pretty mean. When this did not take place I sulked or raged.
Do you not see that I had to be treated indifferently and the reason why? We cannot suppose the Work can ever become a reality to any of us if we put other motives, interests and loves far before it or make it serve them. We cannot then expect it to help in our distress or fear, by turning towards it as a last resort. Its messengers will not hear.
Since the self-love cannot think rightly psychologically or spiritually because it admits nothing higher than itself, it will keep us chained to the sensual mind. That means that we will give the outer or lower power and not the inner or higher. It will be our own fault. We will be governed by the senses.
But the higher must be established beyond all doubt, for only this reverses us and makes Personality passive so that Essence grows. For this turns us the right way up. The self-love turns everything the wrong way round so one can never grasp what the Work is or why. The literal, which is narrow, exacting, brittle, and without grace, then crucifies daily the psychological. Sense crucifies daily the spirit. The self-love remains intact.

(Maurice Nicoll - Commentaries)