The Great Work

The Constructive Principle of Nature in the Individual Life

by John E. Richardson
Volume 3 of the Harmonic Series

Introduction to The Great Work

Knowledge (detail) by J. Otto Schweizer

Knowledge by J. Otto Schweizer (detail)

This grand title, commandeered and appendaged to various questionable efforts throughout the ages, nevertheless denotes the single highest achievement known to humanity.  It is the only labor that will birth an individual from the misery of slavery to appetites, passions, impulses and emotions into the eternal plane of love’s creations.  The Great Work is the stupendous effort of desire and will that launches a human being upon the true path of life: the unfoldment of the soul.

The work, arduous and lifetimes long, is not accompanied by academic honor or worldly acclaim.  Rather the opposite.  There is no amount of money or influence that can secure a degree.  Once self-entered in this invisible school, each person wrestles with personal demons, unaided and unrecognized until the day of triumph.  Then, although acknowledged upon subtler planes of life, the aspiring soul may find even more disregard and misunderstanding from the world.

The fact that all spiritual awakening is founded upon ethical development affords a clue to the work.  It is self-control, to mold a character worthy to house the soul; and personal responsibility, for the circumstances of life manifested in perfect justice to deal each individual the experiences from which to harvest the use of the soul’s power: the power to love unconditionally, with wisdom.

There is no wilier opponent than the so-called animal man.  In Natural Science we are used to thinking of the animal part of ourselves developing to ascendancy during gestation, and then at birth, with the first breath, the soul somehow overriding the demands of the animal self.  Rather it is the soul that is quickly silenced by indifference and animalistic behaviors modeled by most adults.  Love leads us, and  ignorant love draws the heart to mimic destructive acts when we are young.

Thus we have our life’s work presented to us:  the struggle to overcome ignorance and negativity, to discover truth as we are each prepared to perceive it. Every effort towards this accomplishment becomes a permanent part of the soul’s possessions. The aggregate of efforts towards truth and love that each has made during the course of lifetimes constitutes that individual’s evolutionary status.  Evolution is gauged by character, or the embodiment of the ethical truths possessed by the soul.  To be kept, truth must be used, and so selfless service identifies the lover of truth.

The Great Work remains a beacon to all humanity, in every circumstance of life, in every culture, the goal towards which each soul labors in order to be free of the tyranny of impulse, emotionality, unconscious drives, passions and appetites.  These parts of our beings are to be used constructively, for noble purpose, under the sovereign dominion of the awakened soul.  This is the pathway of our spiritual maturation.

Once accomplished, the Great Work is the permanent possession of the soul.  Only character, the noble qualities hard-won over many lifetimes of striving, accompany the soul on its eternal journey.  The true masters are not masters over others, they are masters of themselves. The love that the soul seeks to express is the love of God for humanity, which is self-sustaining and omnipresent.  That is why true masters will never charge money for guidance, nor exact blind allegiance to dogma, nor seek recognition or any form of selfish gain.  In the complete absorption of the soul in God’s love, the master finds all happiness, all power, all freedom, and all love.  Then is the soul self-unfolded in awareness of its true nature, a part of the universal divine life. This is the goal towards which great souls have always worked, invisibly, in solitude, selflessly, with devoted purpose.  This is the destiny which beckons each one of us, each moment and each day of our lives.  The decision to begin is the first step towards life eternal.

As you study this volume of the Harmonic Series, you will absorb the wise guidance of the American master, John Richardson, through his words written in the beginning of the twentieth century for the progressive intelligence of the age.  If you are listening with more than physical ears, you will be inspired to begin the Great Work.


The Great Work – Volume 3 can be downloaded free from the GSNS study website »

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