Ideas and Beliefs

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You are utterly confused and ignorant about what you really think and feel. As a rule you look away from it and you are only vaguely, fuzzily aware of some disturbance, which you quickly rationalize or find some convincing explanations for — whatever seems most acceptable, most “logical” or most compatible with your superficial approach to life and to yourself. Thus you acknowledge only one of what are often many sets of contradictions and conflicting emotions, and even that you do in a cursory, shallow way at best. Thus you almost entirely obscure the true drama of your beliefs and opinions, impressions and reactions, concepts and ideas, hopes and fears. Collective, oversimplified labels are supposed to express what is really going on within you. When you say you are depressed or anxious or hopeless or angry or hurt or fatigued, you are content to call a host of feelings, impressions and beliefs by any one of these names, as though no further search would be necessary. Naming such emotions as a beginning to explore them would serve a good purpose, but only too often you use the names as labels, as a final explanation. Thus you cannot even attain the first level of reality — of identifying your often confused and erroneous interpretation of life, of others, and of self.

As you know, it is part of the individual work to painstakingly examine where such collective labels come from and why. The first reaction often is that you do not even know why you feel this way and give yourself a quick and easy answer, which may sound exceedingly plausible and serious in a world that shies away from a fresh, new approach. However, every problem needs examining as if it had never existed and as if society had no predigested answers ready.

If you give some attention to what you really believe causes the specific unhappy feeling — and usually this requires relatively little attention — you find some answers quite easily. As I mentioned, it is hardly ever just one thing. Contradictory opinions and ideas exist simultaneously. One set of contradictory ideas results in other sets of contradictory reactions, counter-reactions, defense measures, further false beliefs and their inevitable consequences, which create more and more chain reactions. When all this remains in the fuzzy climate of unawareness, half-awareness and easy explaining away, how can you reach the first level of reality — knowing what you think exists?

For example, it is not at all impossible that you think secretly at one and the same time that you are the most important being in the universe and that you are the least worthy in the universe. Even one such assumption is bound to have innumerable consequences, breeding further wrong assumptions in one’s dealings with the world. Each primary wrong assumption snowballs into a host of untenable, painful, destructive beliefs and defense measures, each in itself causing complicated webs of entanglements and growingly painful beliefs. But the two contradictory original assumptions multiply the confusion, entanglements, misconceptions and the resulting pain. For error is pain as truth is happiness.

Anyone working on such a path knows from experience how burdensome such misconceptions and confusions and mutually exclusive ideas are and what a relief it is to shed them. Each web of entanglement sets up a particular resistance against clarifying the confusion, in spite of remaining in pain while the confusion lasts, in spite of knowing the liberated, happy state after it is cleared up. Although you know all this, to some degree even out of personal experience, and most certainly as a valid theory, none of you are fully aware to what extent you still dwell in the state of pre-reality. Most of you, my friends, do not see in your day-to-day lives where just such a dualistic concept of the self as at once the highest and the lowest is responsible for that layer of reality where you think certain things exist without that necessarily being true.

Often, though you have actually recognized a false assumption about yourself, you still do not follow this through to its consequences. You fail to see, for example, how this assumption affects what you believe about others and what you believe they think of you; what a situation or incident means in the light of your assumption; what your reactions and the reactions of others really mean. If you clearly formulate what you believe a situation or event or someone’s reaction means, then you will know why you are unhappy in any particular form. This clear-cut knowing of why you feel the way you do makes a tremendous difference. It also gives you the possibility of realizing that some of your beliefs are preposterous. Again, you might have admitted this in general and as a theory, but to do so specifically is still extremely hard. Your intellectual arrogance makes this so difficult. It is arrogant to set yourself up above others, but it is even more damaging to overestimate your own intellect and thus miss out on your real inherent wisdom, while negating and denying the childish misunderstandings in your personality.

To admit what childish nonsense is lodged in the unconscious is so hard because this contradicts the concept you have of your “intelligence.” But perhaps an even greater motivation for keeping your secret beliefs in the haze of vague impressions and feelings rather than acknowledging them precisely is that you have a vested interest in keeping these things secret because you feel vaguely that, once they are out in the open, you will be obliged to make changes. You fear to do that precisely because you are so committed to your false ideas that a different mode of approach appears to threaten you. But you do not realize that it threatens you only because of your false ideas. The illusory assumptions compound, one leading to another, and you must disentangle them all in order to bring order and truth. If you elevate yourself above your own actual self, above where your self is still ignorant and misinformed, you cannot establish order. It is hard to admit the utterly childish side, with all its senseless ideas and beliefs. The moment this childish side is out in the open, you know it is nonsense, and you are relieved to give up the burdensome beliefs.

In addition to such nonsense there are also false beliefs and impressions you even consciously assume to be true — at least to some degree. These are even more difficult to handle.

Then there are beliefs you do not wish to alter even though you may sense they are somehow false. The painful premise seems preferable to another alternative that appears, deep in your unconscious, even worse. This, too, is of course, an illusory assumption, for no truth is ever burdensome, hopeless or in any way undesirable. The complications and interactions of all the knots, ensnarlments, false beliefs, half-truths and contradictions comprise what actually exists in you. You must face them before you can make any further progress.

You absolutely must disentangle this level of reality. If you are unwilling to see what you believe to be true, you cannot ever come to see what is really true, at this moment. Consequently, you will be unable to reach the third level of reality. That you can only do by changing the present reality into one that is more favorable for you, and this cannot happen by wishful thinking, illusory magic, or denial of the facts.

Let us take a frequent occurrence as an example: your fear of rejection. This fear runs through your psychic life, and consequently through our outer, physical life. Rejection itself would not be the threat it is for most people if there were no specific assumptions connected with it. These specific assumptions are what you must unearth. For example, you may believe that you are worth nothing; what makes rejection such a great threat is that it seems to confirm the “fact” of your worthlessness. Thus it is not sufficient to acknowledge a stereotype “explanation” by saying you feel anxious. It is necessary first to acknowledge that the anxiety exists because you fear rejection. Subsequently, you must unearth that rejection is so threatening because you feel worthless and do not wish to admit this feeling. But even this does not go far enough. Now it becomes necessary to find out on what specific grounds you base the heretofore secret conviction of your worthlessness. In other words, you must take all these very specific beliefs and assumptions out of the fog of vagueness, where they hide under the collective label of “anxiety.”

When you change your approach in the fashion suggested here and conduct serious investigation, when you take nothing for granted and approach everything in a new and fresh way, you will find out what you believe exists. From there on you can begin to look further and begin to question the premises of these beliefs. You can begin to open your eyes and look objectively for what really is. In this transition from one level of reality to the next, you must also ask yourself the question whether you really want to find out, first what you think exists, and second, what really is. All the false assumptions you harbor seem to dictate keeping them secret. For example, should it be true that you actually are worthless and beyond redemption, facing such a fact would indeed be a hard undertaking. But then, is it preferable to live a lie by pretending you believe in your worth, while underneath you doubt it? Such considerations will give you the necessary logic to look at what you believe exists, in order to then find out what actually exists. The actual truth is that you have a great deal of worth, although, perhaps, in a different way than you believe.

Conversely, and simultaneously, you may believe that you are the most important and valuable person on earth, who deserves very special privileges. To ascertain such a belief is difficult because your intellectual knowledge refutes such arrogance and even creates shame. Also, admitting such an idea brings you closer to questioning its validity, which you fear all the more since in the psyche there also lurks the precise opposite extreme — the assumption of your worthlessness. If you are not special, then you assume you are nothing. Hence, you must keep both assumptions hidden from consciousness and you cannot examine them. This keeps you from testing the reality of further chain-reactions and compulsive behavior patterns based on such assumptions.

So, when you discover that you do not want to find out what exists in you, push on and find out why not. What false beliefs prevent you from doing so? When you answer that question, you open another little gate that will eventually enable you to change your mind, so that you will want to find out (a) what you think exists, and (b) what really exists.

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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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