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On this path you are going through various phases. Broadly speaking, so far we have investigated the first level of your unconscious mind. It is the level on which you harbor wrong impressions and conclusions formed into rigid generalizations about different aspects of life. We call these rigid forms in the soul images. Some of these may be in themselves insignificant, yet they are important enough to distort your life.

We have penetrated into the world of duality, which is below this superficial level of your subconscious mind. It is on this deeper level where the battle between the opposites is waged. The battle creates a tremendous confusion in your life. This confusion concerns the big issues as well as the seemingly lesser ones. The great opposites are life and death, happiness and unhappiness, love and selfishness, light and darkness. Your confusion comes about because a certain attitude toward life, that is supposed to lead to the desired goal, often brings with it, at least to some degree, the undesired one. It takes a great deal of self-honesty and awareness to understand this phenomenon and detect the inner error of action and reaction responsible for this confusing result.

Religion symbolizes the struggle between opposites as the struggle between God and the devil. The confusions originating from this duality are said to be Satan’s trick to deceive humankind so that it can no longer distinguish between God’s way and the devil’s. That which is intrinsically selfish and destructive often appears on a superficial level as righteous and holy, and vice versa. The distortion of truth into falsehood is part of the great battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness which human beings erroneously imagine to be raging outside themselves; they tend to believe that they are merely victims caught in the middle.

Having to choose between everyday alternatives that confront you often generates confusion. These alternatives are not crassly “good” or “bad”; they both stem from the same basic struggle in the human soul.

Modern psychology has recognized the same fundamental problem, calling it the life instinct versus the death instinct, or the pleasure principle versus the reality principle. In connection with the reality principle, however, there is also confusion. So often people are not clear which principle stands for God and which for the devil. Is the pleasure principle selfish and therefore destructive? Can you indulge in it without hurting others? And does the reality principle stand for duty, responsibility, work, achievement, and is therefore constructive? On the other hand, you are told that God is happiness, bliss, light, and the pleasure principle makes you yearn for that. Whether you know it or not, right at this point you are engulfed in one of humanity’s major confusions.

Underneath all the conflicts you have discovered through the work on this path is a larger conflict always related to your world of duality. Behind your images and misconceptions you always find conflict. In one way or another, you find that you are torn between several alternatives. By stripping away any superimposed motivations, at the core you are bound to find the basic opposites.

But this level of duality on which you are torn between the opposites is still not the core. Behind it is the origin of the world of duality, just as the world of duality is where your images originate. Strangely enough, this underlying source becomes on the next level one side of the two opposites. In other words, the source, which is a unified core, on the next level of consciousness splits into two opposites. This underlying core is your longing for complete happiness, light, love, bliss, peace. The original longing is for happiness supreme, but life on earth prohibits such fulfillment. This prohibition creates the world of duality, and therefore your conflict. It is equally true, however, to say that the world of duality created the prohibition. It created life conditions on earth which made “reality” something that opposed the pleasure principle, to speak in psychological terms; in spiritual terms, that “reality” on earth opposes the divine principle of bliss.

This puts you into a vicious circle. How to get out of it and find your way into the light of truth is the relevant question. In the first place, you have to understand what is responsible, at least in part, for the human being’s creation of duality out of a single core.

Life on earth necessarily involves physical death. Even if we remove many of life’s miseries as unnecessary, as created out of confusion, physical death still remains. It is still a mystery, unknown, and therefore frightening, in spite of religious faith. It seems to be an end; as such it is in crass opposition to the longing for life. And life, in essence, means bliss. All the religious explanations, however true they may be, are still conjectures. Thus, by following through in logical steps, we see that the fear of death creates the world of duality and the world of duality creates a reality that says no to humanity’s longing for complete fulfillment. This leaves us with the problem of death. It is by dealing with it that we can break the vicious circle.

Humanity has tried to cope with the problem of death for as long as it has existed. Unfortunately, these attempts were unsatisfactory and were bound to fail, just as your unconscious attempts to solve psychological problems by shortcuts and evasions are doomed to fail. Instead of facing the issue squarely, you superimpose ready-made answers which may be true as such, but they are not true for you personally, because you have not arrived at them using the strength and courage that come only from facing the issue. You chose rather the way of avoidance out of fear and weakness. This is one way of trying to deal with the problem. Many religious people who cling to faith out of fear are examples of those who want to avoid confronting the reality of death on this earth.

Another attempt to deal with the problem of death is through negation of the very thing for which one longs most deeply. Humanity longs for bliss and eternal life, but many who desire it are terrified of not attaining it. Therefore they rush right into the negation of what they long for most. This self-destructiveness can be found on all levels. It manifests in your attitude toward less significant aspects of life, but is basically your way of coping with the problem of death. The atheist/materialist and the superficially religious who wants to avoid death by superimposed faith are two prototypes. Neither realizes that each is doing essentially the same thing, that is, throwing away what they most desire. They violently oppose each other, because to each one the other represents the opposite of what he or she believes to be the solution to the great problem. Yet neither has found the answer, since that must come from the self, from within. It comes only by courageously facing these problems, questions, confusions and fears, and examining how you have tried up to now in your particular way to cope with them.

My speaking of the longing for God may sound distant and abstract. When you try to imagine the divine bliss that spirits enjoy, your automatic association produces something that is usually quite different from the happiness which you as human beings long for. You imagine the bliss of heaven as something dull, sterile, uninteresting. There are many people who believe that the very presence of unhappiness is what gives happiness its flavor. Of course, this is not so. Since the word “happiness” to most of you connotes such vague and distant spirituality, let us use the phrase “pleasure supreme on all levels of your being” instead. Your deep-rooted longing for this “pleasure supreme” is constantly in conflict with reality as you know it on earth. This is the result of your inability to come to terms with death.

Modern psychology claims that this deep-seated longing stems from the desire to return to the womb, where the fetus lived in a state of being, without worry, responsibility, or hardship. The more the entity grows, the more it has to face the realities of life; therefore the struggle becomes more intense. But the longing of the human being goes back further than the mother’s womb. The truth is that you all have imbedded in your spirit the vague memory of a life in another state of consciousness, when you knew nothing but supreme bliss without any opposing alternative. You can recapture this state gradually, by stages, and to a degree, even while you are still an incarnated entity. It is not enough to remove your images and wrong conclusions. However, as you do so, you are bound to encounter the level of the world of duality. Once you comprehend it at its deepest core, you come face to face with your struggle against death, or “anti-pleasure,” if I may call it that.

As I indicated before, there are two major ways in which the unconscious attempts to cope with death. Both are based on negation: one by evasion, the other by deliberately going into what you are most afraid of. In both alternatives you struggle desperately against death. You struggle no less when you deliberately choose death out of cringing fear, in a negative spirit of weakness. It is an altogether different choice to accept death in a healthy way, out of strength.

When I use the word “death,” I do not mean merely physical death. I refer to all the negative aspects of life, everything that opposes your pleasure drive. In that sense death also means loss, change, and the unknown that may actually contain something better than the state you are in, but by the very fact that it is unknown, it becomes terrifying. There is no human being who does not die many little deaths every day.

Your attitude toward death in all its aspects determines your ability to live and experience pleasure. The healthier your attitude toward death, the more the life force can flow through you, and therefore the more healthy and enduring will be the gratification of your pleasure drive.

Your first step is to detect how much you struggle against death. Become fully aware of this, just as you need to become fully aware of the constant longing for pleasure supreme. Both may be very hidden. Find which of the two ways you have chosen to cope with death — evading it, or rushing into it. Both are present in every human being, but one or the other may be predominant.

In the latter attempt, you sabotage the happiness that you could have because you are too afraid of losing it again, or not achieving it to the degree that you desire. You say, “Death, or loss, is unavoidable anyway, so I might just as well get it over with.” An extreme example of this is suicide.

You are torn between two unsatisfactory and damaging attempts to negate death. These artificial, forceful, and cramped attempts bring you so much nearer to what you want to avoid, and you forfeit that which you wish to gain. So it is not in acceptance itself that you find strength and healing, but in how you choose to accept death. Acceptance mixed with fear and negativity — both of which lead to self-destructiveness — is altogether different from a healthy, strong acceptance of the inevitable. Squarely facing it, not cringing from it, you will come to terms with it, thereby freeing the life force in you, which remains bottled up as long as you do not learn to cope with death in a healthy way.

You sense that the solution lies in acceptance. But you also believe that in acceptance lies annihilation. As long as this confusion is not brought into consciousness, you cannot begin to find your way out of the maze.

Faced with this confusion, people often resort to religion in any of its varied forms. But they do it in the spirit of evasion and fear. Thus religion, no matter how true its teachings, will not really help, just as the wrong kind of acceptance does not help. This kind of religiousness will not help because it is accepted out of weakness, which pollutes people’s motives. Deeply sensing the untruth of their motivations, they despise themselves for it. Moreover, the superimposed faith has no real power to help them. They accept God, and everything that belief in God implies, not out of real conviction, nor out of a deep, genuine insight, but because they are afraid. Thus, the enemies of religion are often right when they say that religion is an opiate. By the same token, the enemies of materialism are right when they reject the materialistic point of view, not only because it is not true, but also because the motivation for accepting it is fear.

The more we look into this subject, the more we find that the solution lies in facing the unknown and confronting the fear of it. The task is learning the strength to die, for only the person who knows how to die knows how to live.

Needless to say, you do not have to wait to experience actual physical death in order to learn how to die. Not only can your occasional conscious fear of anything that connotes death help you, but also all the other aspects of death that comprise daily living. If you do not know how to die, you cannot live because you cannot reconcile the opposites that constitute the dualism in your own soul. Hence you cannot free the life force that lies within unutilized.

So examine your faith, too, my friends. Do not be afraid to recognize that, to whatever degree, it also is an intellectual superimposition to which you cling out of weakness and fear. Such a frank admission will give you the very strength to build a genuine faith that is also a conviction and a knowledge. It will come from an inner experience of the truths which so far you have known only intellectually. This certainty will come after you have learned to cope with death in the fullest sense. As long as your ability to accept death is based on the superimposed knowledge that life goes on and that death is an illusion, your faith is built on sand. But if you take the great, courageous step to face your unbelief, your uncertainty, and your fear, and come to terms with them by accepting the unknown, you will build up your strength and make room for true conviction and the experience of spiritual truth. Then it will become part of you because you then learn to live. The life force will be released and a great measure of your longing for bliss will be fulfilled while still on earth.

Seek and you shall find an area of your being that clings to life only in order to avoid death. This motivation is negative and negates the life force itself. But if you face and come to terms with death, your embrace of life will have a positive spirit. This alone can solve the problem of duality, since duality arises out of negation.

The problem of duality has to be tackled eventually along the road of development and growth. For some it will surface sooner, for others later, but it must come for everyone.

Do not fear that you are being disloyal to your faith when you face that part of it which is superimposed on your terror of death. For only then can you truly become strong, from knowing and accepting the uncertainty of death in small ways, every day. This strength does not come from evasion, or from anything negative. You will know that death is an integral part of life. To the extent that you grow in this direction the life force will flow through you and give you a foretaste of what real happiness, pleasure supreme, and true security is, even while you are still in the body.

Many aspects of civilized life stand in the way of the supreme bliss that could be had to some degree even on earth. They are a direct result of the inner duality, which in turn comes from the inability to die. Civilized life constantly imposes on you the alternatives of pleasure and unpleasure. Let us consider, for instance, work that is not always according to your creative abilities and inclinations, and therefore not according to your liking or pleasure. Moreover, the conditions of working, with all their “musts” which stem from political, economic and sociological factors, which again are themselves a result of the inner duality, necessitate a struggle for living. This encourages ambitiousness, drives, and compulsions. In addition, these often confront one with obligations which may only be necessary within the framework of your present life on earth. In these ways a reality principle is created that stands in clear opposition to the longing for and fulfillment of the happiness that could be yours. Here individual inner problems have collectively brought about a state of civilization that makes life unnecessarily difficult. Thus your often unpleasant reality is in many respects unnecessary, and shows up as a collective manifestation of the inner duality. As each person begins to face this problem within, he or she helps to change the world and these conditions in ever so subtle but nonetheless decisive ways. As you focus on these problem within yourself, you become able to cope with the unnecessary duality in a much healthier way. Simultaneously you also help to change the overly harsh collective reality principle.

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To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

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