Work on Oneself

The Work is a spiritual pursuit, that differs from other serious spiritual pursuits because many of the activities of The Work take place in life, carried out by the individual who is “in The Work.” The individual works on himself or herself in the normal course of their lives. They do what they might otherwise do if they were not in The Work, traveling to work, doing their job, socializing with friends, going to the movies or the theater, looking after their family and so on.

The only difference in these activities is that the might be carried out in a slightly different way psychologically. There may be some activities that they no longer become involved in because of a change of in their attitude to how they spend their time that has taken place because of their contact with The Work. There may also be some activities that they take up which they previously did not do also because of a change in attitude.


The Work is very specific in not requiring any belief whatsoever. As almost a direct counterpoint to belief, someone who is in The Work is expected to take no information on trust. Data that you did not gather yourself is just hearsay, even if it comes from someone who has proved themselves to be reliable. Instead you are expected to meet any idea or theory that might emerge, for example, from a book about the Work, with a healthy skepticism. The appropriate attitude would be simply “that it may be true and it may not.”

If a Work idea or theory is important to you, then you should make the necessary effort to demonstrate whether it is true or false. If you can think of no way to do that, then you will have to put it to one side for the moment.

Ideas of the Work

A good deal of The Work is psychological in nature. Those who follow it investigate the psychological theories of The Work by a process of gradual self-observation attempting to determine whether they are true and what they mean in practice. There are many strands to this. As a consequence, it cannot be simply summed up in a phrase or two. Indeed there have been many books written about different aspects of it. Nevertheless, there are some fundamental ideas which we can touch on briefly here (click on the links if you care to read more):

Sleep/states of attention

Three brains or controlling functions in man

Not Self-help

It is worth emphasizing that The Work is not a self-help movement in the modern sense of that term. It is distinctly about spirituality and hence it is best to think of it as similar to other spiritual movements – esoteric Christianity, Sufism, esoteric Judaism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc.)


The Work does not try to impose any particular morality on other people, as for example, some religions do on their followers. It has followers, of course. They comprise of individuals who have chosen to work on themselves. Such individuals are not obliged to follow any moral rules per se.

However, Five Obligolnian Strivings are described in The Tales. These constitute specific efforts that someone who is in The Work is advised to make. The penalty for not making such strivings is simply that you are unlikely to receive the benefits that they may bring in time. Some of these strivings require particular inner attitudes and could not be followed in their absence.


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