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Building the Four Pillars of Your Life
As revealed to
Marshall Vian Summers
on September 15, 2008
in Boulder. Colorado
In truth, your life is only as strong as the weakest of your Pillars.
There are Four Pillars to your life. They represent the strength of your life and the stability of your life. They represent your ability to withstand change and to take advantage of opportunity. They represent your ability to face disappointment and uncertainty. Like the four legs of a table, they uphold your life.
There is the Pillar of Relationships; there is the Pillar of Work and Providership; there is the Pillar of Health; and there is the Pillar of your Spiritual Development. Each of these Pillars is of equal value, and even though at any particular moment you may be focused on one of these Pillars, the truth is, they all must be built.
Like the four legs of a table, they uphold that table, and they uphold whatever is put upon that table. Whatever responsibilities or goals that you establish in your life require that each of these Pillars be strong and that you are attentive to each one of them.
Neglect even one of these Pillars and you will be greatly weakened and prone to failure and defeat. That is why they represent a core part of your personal development. They represent a core part of your spiritual practice and your focus in life.
Many people give themselves to one Pillar only. They perhaps involve themselves in their work—trying to accumulate wealth, trying to gain a greater and greater position in the social structure of their culture. And so their work becomes the dominating and overarching focus of their life—work and the accumulation of money, the accumulation of power and social power. Yet their health is neglected. Their relationships become simply tools that they use to build their personal wealth or their vocation, and there is often little or no emphasis upon their spiritual development. While they may achieve some substantial results in their pursuit, their life is weak and unbalanced and prone to immense personal failure.
Other people give their whole focus to their relationships, pursuing romance or becoming obsessed with their friends or their extended family. Emotionally drawn in, captivated, they give little attention to the other Pillars of their life, and as a result they do not have discernment in relationships. They cannot provide financial stability or security in relationships. And their personal health, which they can take for granted, can fail them and undermine anything that they establish with other people.
There are some people who give themselves entirely to their spiritual study and practice. And unless they are a true monastic, they will forfeit their work, their providership, their personal health and valuable relationships for their spiritual pursuit, thinking that the goal of enlightenment, or becoming religious to a very great degree, will solve all of their needs and requirements. If they are a true monastic, that is different. But monasticism is reserved for very unique individuals and is not a pathway for people in general.
The people who give themselves to their Spiritual Pillar, the Pillar of Spiritual Development, have very weak relationships, no financial foundation, very little skills in functioning in the world and often poor mental and physical health. Yet they feel that their pursuit of spiritual power or spiritual recognition will compensate for all these other things.
Then there are people who give themselves to their health. They are extreme in their focus upon health. Perhaps their health is weak, and this is taking all of their attention. Or perhaps they want to be athletic and beautiful, and so they devote a major part of their life to their appearance and their athletic abilities, but this is often at the cost of the other Pillars in their life. So while they may be impressive in appearance, their mental health can be poor, their relationships can be weak and failing, they may have very little financial foundation in the world and very few skills because they have given themselves over to one Pillar primarily.
Occasionally, you will find the person who has built perhaps two Pillars of their life. But it is rare that you will find someone who has built all the Pillars of their life. When you approach building all the Pillars of your life, you realize you cannot be extreme in any one of them, that they require a balance and that rather than magnificence, you are seeking for stability and strength.
Like the legs of a table, if one is six foot tall and the others are two foot tall, you have a table that cannot hold anything. Place any greater responsibility or requirement on that person, and they cannot shoulder it. They cannot meet that need or that requirement. Because life is a process of taking on greater responsibilities, the person whose Pillars are weak or out of balance is extremely prone to failure. The failure that they will face will have to do with the weakness of their Pillars. Unanticipated change that they will face in life can overtake them because they do not have the resident strength and stability that they will need.
The development of your Pillars is relevant to your greater purpose for coming into the world, and in that everyone has unique requirements. But in all cases your Pillars must be strong enough and built appropriately to enable you to participate in experiencing and expressing a greater purpose in your life. This means that you are taking on greater responsibilities. Even beyond the normal parameters of life, living a life of greater purpose means that you are taking on a greater set of tasks and facing a greater set of challenges. It is not for the weak or the faint of heart.
Many people think that they are ready to take on such greater responsibilities and challenges, but they really do not have the foundation that can sustain them through the long period of preparation and through the many challenges that they will face along the way. They love the idea of living a life of greater purpose and meaning, but they really do not have the foundation to sustain themselves in assuming and maintaining such a life.
The tragedy of this is evident everywhere. People set great goals for themselves perhaps, only to find that their life is failing them in some arena of their life around one or more Pillars. Their relationships are failing them, for they have given themselves to other things inordinately, and now their marriages are failing, and they have no real relationship with their children, and they find that there is no one in their life who really knows them and who is really there for them. They have acquaintances. They have friends. But their Pillar of Relationships is not strong enough to really sustain them in any way that is beneficial.
Other people have no real work life. Somehow they have just gotten by because all of their focus has been upon other things. So they are financially unstable, which is constantly eroding away their life and undermining their relationships. They do not have the strength and the stability to carry on greater activities because they do not have the foundation for this. They are not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary.
People who are entertaining the reality and the possibility of living a greater purpose in their life want it now. They are not willing to work for twenty years to build a foundation for it. They want it now. They want to leap into it now, but they do not have the foundation for it, and they will not be able to go very far.
It is like climbing a great mountain. You start off and you realize it is really steep, and you do not have the right kind of shoes for it, and the things that you are bringing along are not the things you really need, and you find you do not have the strength to get very far. You do not have the provisions. Your expectations were perhaps too romantic. You thought this was going to be easy.
It proves to be hard, and you really do not have the strength to undertake it. So you settle for something much less in life. You tell yourself, “Oh, well. This relationship will be good enough for me,” or “This job will be good enough for me.” And you compromise yourself, and you give your life to things that really have no promise. You give your life to people who are really not going anywhere. Though you might feel more secure or relieved of the challenge, in your heart there is a great depression, a great misgiving.
It is for this reason that your spiritual practice must focus on building and maintaining the Four Pillars of your life. This requires a lot of time and energy and does not look very spiritual at all. Most of these activities are quite mundane and perhaps do not fit in with your ideals or your ambitions.
But if you are to have a real foundation to weather the difficulties of life, to navigate the Great Waves of change that are coming to the world and to be prepared for the requirements and the opportunities that living a greater life will reveal, you must have this foundation. Otherwise, you are fooling yourself. Your will and ambition alone will not be enough. Obsession will not be enough. Eccentricity will only weaken you and lead you to failure.
There are many spiritual teachers in the world who will promise you abundance and enlightenment, fulfillment or spiritual powers, but there are very few of them that will teach you to build the foundation for living a greater life engaged in a greater set of activities and responsibilities. They are selling you on an idea, on a dream, on a hope and a wish. But in the real preparation, people have to work hard and build a foundation.
God will not give you anything greater to do until you have this foundation, until you are ready, until you have the strength and the maturity necessary to assume a greater responsibility.
People think that they are ready, but they are not ready. They expect that God will reveal to them what they are to do, or they will invent great purposes for themselves, but they are not ready. They are driven by their ambition, their personal needs or the desire for recognition from others. Perhaps their motivations are more genuine and represent a deep spiritual need, but until they have the foundation, they cannot go very far. And if they think they are really advancing, then it is all the product of their imagination.
Here the demands of a real life exceed what people expect. These demands exceed what many people are willing to give and what they are willing to do. They want to be at the top of the mountain right away. So they think that there is some kind of elevator that will take them there or secret passage that will shoot them to the top, for they are unwilling or unable to make the real journey.
Today you have many spiritual teachers and advocates who claim to have great powers and great connections and offer expedient means to achieve spiritual power and enlightenment. But, really, it is all a mirage. It is based upon hope and expectation and not upon true ability. For they themselves have not built the Four Pillars of their lives, thinking that to do so is beneath them, that it is unworthy of their attention and does not represent the exaltation of their goals and expectations.
You must build the foundation if you are to live a greater life. You must have the strength. You must have the humility to do this work. You must break free of other relationships and influences that keep you from attending to these greater matters. While other people are idly talking about the accumulation of wealth, power or spiritual fulfillment, you must attend to really building the foundation.
What does this mean? This means that you must take the Steps to Knowledge within yourself, to find the source of your strength and the deeper intelligence that God has placed within you, which alone knows who you are, why you are here and what you are here to accomplish.
While you are building your connection to the great endowment of Knowledge within yourself, you are building your Work Pillar so that you have a viable means of sustaining yourself. Perhaps it is very mundane and not exalted, but it must be a focus that can provide for you and for other people. Instead of living hand to mouth, here you must have a great enough Work Pillar to provide for others, to provide for children, to provide for people in need and to secure yourself so that you will not be overwhelmed in the face of the Great Waves of change that are coming to the world.
While you are doing this, you must focus on healing your past relationships and building true alliances with other people. Because relationships require a considerable amount of time and focus, this is no small matter. These relationships are not merely to help you fulfill your ambitions but represent a deeper connection with others, relationships that have a spiritual dimension and a practical expression. They are not merely for fun or escape. They represent true alliances, and you must invest yourself in them to build this kind of deeper trust and connection.
Then you have your personal health, which involves your mental health and your physical health. You must recognize your psychological weaknesses, your unforgiveness of others and your unresolved conflicts from the past. You must explore how these things can be resolved.
Then there is your physical health. If your body is weak, if your body is out of shape, then it may not be able to sustain you as a vehicle in this world. Many promising people have fallen because their physical health was inadequate to sustain the life that they had assumed. Here again you must assess your strengths and your weaknesses. Everyone physically has weak links in their health. What are those weak links? Where is your body strong and where is it fragile? What must you eat that is proper for maintaining a strong constitution? You must exercise every day and find the time to do this.
When you add all of this up, it looks like a tremendous amount of work. The truth is, it is a tremendous amount of work. Here you do not have time for self-destructive behaviors. You do not have time to languish or be depressed. You do not have time to fall into the pit of your own despair or irresolution. You do not have the time to become eccentric or obsessed with anyone or anything. You do not have time to become obsessed with yourself.
Here building the Four Pillars of your life is the perfect antidote to eccentricity and self-obsession, which are the source of so much mental illness and personal failure. Here you are working on all fronts, and you are focusing on gaining strength in each of your Pillars and on maintaining a balance between them.
Then when life’s difficulties emerge, you are strong enough to face them and to adapt to them or to offset them, whatever the case requires, whereas before, these things would have defeated you or set you back.
Without this Four Pillars approach to your life, you will become very prone to eccentricity. You will become very prone to overemphasizing certain aspects of your life to the neglect of others. You will become overly focused on certain things and you will miss other key aspects of your life, and they will be weak and faltering as a result.
It is like laying a foundation for a building. You cannot just build the building. You have to build the foundation. You have to lay the plumbing and the wiring. You have to have a foundation that is strong enough to support the structure you are intending to build upon it. All of the necessary infrastructure must be there. Otherwise, the building, no matter how beautiful or impressive, has nothing really to stand upon and cannot function.
This serves then as an example for your own life. People want to build a handsome and impressive life—a life that makes them feel proud, a life that impresses them to others and gives them social power, a life that fulfills ambitions. But without a real foundation, this building will never really be built. Even if it is partially constructed, it will tend to fail because it does not have a sufficient foundation underneath it.
There are many people who have made notable achievements in life, but they are mentally ill, or their relationships are a disaster, or they have no inner life—no sense of who they are or where they are going. They have no connection to Knowledge. While they might achieve a footnote in history, they themselves are a personal failure. Their gifts could only partially be given. They really did not meet the requirements of their life.
Should you build this foundation, the Four Pillars of your life, then your greater purpose will give you a more unique focus that may emphasize one of the Pillars over the others. But you will still have to maintain all the Pillars to have the strength and the stability to meet the challenges of this greater life.
If you do not have good mental health and strong relationships, you can fall into despair. If you do not have the resident wisdom that is necessary about living in the world, then you can be influenced by other powers in the mental environment, seduced into thinking things that are not true, or following things that have nowhere to go. Here your promise will be wasted because you did not have the clarity of mind and the sobriety about your life to see the deception.
People can start off really focused on something important and then simply be carried away by something else. Or they take themselves too seriously, and they think they are a superman or a superwoman, and they lose the focus of their initial intent. When you trace this back to a person’s Pillars, you can see where the difficulty began.
Building the Pillar of Relationships, for example, means that you have people in your life who can point out to you your weaknesses and who are free to correct your misperceptions. This will moderate your behavior and make you more self-aware and more circumspect about your ideas and your goals. Here your life is not full of critics but has people in it who are committed to the truth and can point out to you where you are making a mistake, where your life is going off course, and who can warn you about the influences of other people or even hidden powers that can dissuade you from your greater purpose.
Without relationships of this quality, anyone is prone to failure. Anyone can make critical mistakes in their estimation and in their decisions. You really cannot do anything significant in life unless you have relationships that can function at the level of a higher purpose. Discovering these relationships and discerning them from all the other attractions of wealth, beauty and charm that may stimulate you, takes real concentration and real self-honesty.
People try to achieve success, and they just use other people as tools to fulfill their ambitions. But their life is a tragedy as a result. They leave behind them a string of disappointments and of people who resent them and do not respect them. What is the value of this? What kind of wealth is worth this kind of hostility and failure? Certainly, happiness would be beyond the reach of such a person, and whatever they were able to achieve in their obsession over their careers would be offset by their personal losses. This is very common.
Of course, there are many people who do not have a Pillar of Spiritual Development, even if they believe in a religion and have adopted a set of beliefs and go through the rituals and motions of being religious. If they have no connection to Knowledge, then they have no inner life, and they have no deeper recognition. Without this, they are guessing in life, and they are following the prescriptions of their culture and the influence of other people. Being unable to follow the great inner direction that God has given them through Knowledge, they now become a slave to other forces—a slave to their ambitions, a slave to meeting the expectations of their family or their friends, a slave to whatever their culture tells them that they should value and adopt.
This is going through life blind, and it leads to tremendous disappointment and calamities. People do not see when great tragedies occur and befall them, even though the signs were there. People do not see their changing environment and the impact it could have upon their lives because they did not see the signs, because they were not strong with Knowledge.
However you may conceive of your life and whatever your values may be, if you consider your life within the context of having four fundamental Pillars, you can begin to recognize that should you neglect any one of them or approach any one of them with unreal expectations or self-deception, it will create a tremendous difficulty for you.
You have the entire world around you to demonstrate the results. Here, instead of judging and condemning people, look at their lives in terms of their Pillars. If you have the opportunity to know the circumstances of a person’s life, instead of just judging them for the way they appear or behave, really look at the Pillars of their life. Where did they invest themselves? What was really overlooked or neglected? Where did their personal development cease, or where was it never given in the first place?
Here you can begin to see the results, which are manifest all around you. In your own deep evaluation of your life, see where you have invested yourself within the context of the Four Pillars of your life. Which of these Pillars have you built and which have you neglected? Where have you overemphasized your life, or where have you become obsessive? What have you missed?
This teaching on the Four Pillars of your life is part of God’s New Message and Revelation for the world. It is being given to prepare you to become strong and stable, wise and compassionate, and capable of facing a world of ever-increasing instability and turmoil in the face of the Great Waves of change—environmental degradation, violent weather, resource depletion, increasing political and economic instability and the growing threat of war. When you begin to think of the Great Waves of change that God’s New Message is revealing, you will see how weak you really are and where you lack preparation, strength and stability.
You will need a stable foundation, a strong ark to ride these waves of change without sinking, without breaking apart, without collapsing. This is why the teaching in the Four Pillars of your life is part of the study and preparation that God’s New Message is providing. For without it, the powerful impacts of the Great Waves of change and even the normal requirements of life could undermine you, could overtake you, and your chance of success would be very small.
What is success? Success is the ability to experience and express the greater purpose that has brought you into the world, a greater purpose that will require strong relationships, a greater purpose that will require that you are stable and that you can adapt to changing circumstances in the world, a greater purpose that will require that you have a deep connection to the greater Knowledge that God has placed within you, to guide you and to protect you and to lead you to your greater life.
This greater purpose will require that your health be stable, that you be mentally sound and physically able to undertake the great requirements and responsibilities of this higher purpose in life.
That really is success, in a greater sense, in a greater way. It is not just success in terms of what your culture values or in what your family thinks is significant. It is success in terms of your real nature and the Creator of all life, who has sent you into the world to give special gifts to a world in need.
As We have said, building the Four Pillars of your life is the perfect antidote to eccentricity and self-obsession. It is the perfect foundation for building a life of real meaning and purpose. It is an antidote to depression and low self-esteem. It is an antidote to the inability to accept oneself or to value one’s characteristics. It is the perfect antidote to failing to discern real relationships from all the other attractions to which people fall prey. It is the perfect antidote to having your life collapse around you because it does not have the strength to withstand the Great Waves of change.
God has sent you into the world for a greater purpose, but God knows that you cannot discover or realize this purpose unless you have a strong enough foundation to bear it, to carry it, to express it and to fulfill it. That is why the foundation building is so important and requires real time and investment on your part.
The New Message from God provides this teaching, and it is so very essential. It will give you the strength and the confidence you will need and the humility that you must have to recognize your own vulnerabilities to life and the strength that you must bring forth from the well of Knowledge within yourself to meet life’s great challenges and sudden events.
Here you will be a source of strength for others. Here you will be able to instill confidence and inspiration in others because in the face of the real impacts of life, it is your strength, it is your character, it is your compassion and your ability that really matter. Here charm and beauty mean nothing. They are all a pretension. When it comes really down to it in life, you must be able to face it and use it beneficially.
For this, you need a strong foundation to discover your real purpose in life and not simply invent some pleasurable pursuit for yourself. You must have this real foundation, or it will not be revealed to you. You will not be a worthy recipient. You will not be a reliable vehicle for its expression in the world.
This, of course, requires a re-evaluation of your life, your goals, your expectations and your ambitions. This deep evaluation is essential, and God’s New Message teaches you how it can be done to the deepest benefit. For you need Knowledge to guide you, but you need wisdom, and this wisdom comes from your own learning, your own observations of life and your own achievements and the achievements of others. Without this wisdom, you cannot carry Knowledge in the world, you cannot express what Knowledge is giving you to express, you cannot bear its strength or its wisdom and its insight, and you will not be able to adopt the great responsibilities that having such a power will require.
Building the Four Pillars of your life means that you are using the learning of others, you are learning from others’ experiences, from their success and their failures. You are observing others without condemnation now, trying to learn, to see what their lives are teaching you, to gain benefit from their experiences and from your own experiences.
Here you will need very strong relationships that are not simply personality attachments or liaisons that are established to share hobbies and interests. It requires a deeper connection with people. This will enrich and strengthen your life and be a great insurance against your making critical and self-defeating decisions.
The work ahead is substantial. It is humble. You are not going to be a superstar if you are to build the Four Pillars of your life. You cannot lose yourself in your hobbies, your interests or your obsessions if you are going to build the Four Pillars of your life. You cannot give yourself away to other people and their obsessions if you are to build the Four Pillars of your life.
If your life is to emerge into a greater expression and fulfill a greater destiny, you must have this foundation. It is like the launch pad for a rocket. If that launch pad fails, the rocket fails. It cannot take off. And so the infrastructure underneath that rocket becomes ever more important. It must be strong. It must be well designed. It must be able to provide its service.
That is what you are working on every day in the Four Pillars of your life. You realize you are working on things every day to be strong and to be stable. Stability here is so very important, for if you are unstable all the time, nothing greater can be given to you or revealed to you. Though you may feel a deep spiritual need to know your greater purpose in life, you really do not have the stability within yourself and in your circumstances to have such a revelation occur. You will not have the relationships there to support it. You will not have the resources that you need to be able to engage with this greater realization.
That is why to give you the promise that you have a greater purpose and a greater meaning in life, the essential elements for building the foundation for this must be provided for you. An education must be provided for you. Otherwise, the idea of living a life of greater purpose, of greater meaning, is only a dream—beyond your reach, beyond your capabilities.
But it is not a dream. It is the fundamental reality of your life. But it requires a very strong foundation, and this foundation must be sustained through time. This will give you strength and confidence. This will free you from dangerous obsessions. This will prevent you from falling into despair or being pulled away by the obsessions and the addictions of others.
This will give you a solid track in life, and with this strength, you will feel that you are here for a greater purpose, that the power of Knowledge is with you and that you have the strength and the skill to take the greater journey that now becomes revealed to you.