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From lecture 38, IMAGES:

It is important to realize that over the course of a lifetime, usually even in earliest childhood or infancy, every personality forms certain impressions due to environmental influences or to sudden, unexpected experiences. These impressions or attitudes usually take the form of conclusions in the mind of the person. Most of the time these conclusions are wrong. You see and experience something unfortunate, one of the unavoidable hardships of life, and you then make generalizations from them. These generalizations later establish themselves as preconceived ideas.

The conclusions are not thought out; rather they are emotional reactions, general attitudes toward life. They are not completely devoid of a certain logic, albeit limited and erroneous. As the years go by, these conclusions and attitudes sink more and more into the unconscious. From there, they mold the life of every person to some extent. We call each such conclusion an “image,” since we spirits see the whole thought process as a spiritual form — or image.

You might contend that people can also have positive, healthy images engraved on their soul. That is seldom true because in the absence of a wrong image, all thoughts and feelings are fluctuating, dynamic and relaxed: They are flexible. The whole universe is suffused with a number of divine forces. Thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that are unconnected with an image flow harmoniously with the divine currents, adapting themselves spontaneously to your immediate needs. But the forms of the thought/feelings emanating from wrong images are static and congested. They do not “give” in accordance with changing circumstances. Thus, they create disorder. The pure currents flowing through a human soul become disturbed and distorted. A short circuit is established.

This is the way we in the spirit world see images. The way you see and feel them is through unhappiness, anxiety, and puzzlement over many apparently inexplicable things in your life. For instance, your inability to change what you wish to change or certain kinds of events that seem to reoccur regularly without an obvious reason are just two examples. There are many more.

The wrong conclusions that form an image are drawn from ignorance and half-knowledge and thus they cannot remain in the conscious mind. As the personality grows up, your intellectual knowledge contradicts your emotional “knowledge.” You therefore push down the emotional knowledge until it disappears from consciousness. The more emotional knowledge is hidden, the more potent the image becomes.

Now how can you find your personal images? Not by trying to change the symptoms, whatever they may be, but rather by working with them. These symptoms include your inability to overcome certain faults and attitudes; your lack of control over certain patterns in your life; and fears and resistances on specific occasions. The harder you try to eliminate the symptoms without having understood their roots, the more you will exhaust yourself in useless efforts. The symptoms are merely one part of the price you pay for your ignorant inner conclusions.

Start searching for the image by thinking back on your life and finding all the problems. Write them down. Include problems of all sorts. You cannot do this unless you take the trouble to put them down concisely in black and white. If you merely think about them, you will not have the overview necessary for comparison.

The written work is essential. It is certainly not too much to ask. You do not have to do it in one day. Take your time, even if it takes a few months. Then, when you have all the big and small troubles in front of your eyes, even the most nonsensical and insignificant ones, start to look for the common denominator. You will find one common denominator in most instances, and sometimes even more than one.

I do not say that a difficulty cannot occur only once in your life, independent of any inner image. That is possible. This, too, is based on cause and effect as everything in the universe is, but it may not be connected with your image. But be careful, my friends. Do not put an occurrence aside superficially, assuming it is unconnected with your personal image merely because it appears that way at first sight. It is very possible, and even probable, that there are no unconnected happenings in your life. All unpleasant experiences are probably connected with your image at least in some way.

The common denominator may not be easy to find. Only after you have thoughtfully grasped your image will you be in a position to judge which of your experiences, if any, have something to do with it. Until then you must refrain from final judgments about the events in your life. In meditation, in serious self-probing, in checking your emotional reactions about the past and present, and through prayer, you will find, after a long and arduous search, the common denominator. It is pride. Your self-will says: “I do not want the risk of life; I do not want the pain of life; therefore, I draw this conclusion which seems to safeguard me against it.” In fact, it is not a safeguard, for it will bring you the very trouble you are trying to escape from, since life cannot be cheated. This is the merciful law of God. Otherwise you could never emerge from the misery of the lower, darker planes of consciousness.

Only when you begin to face your own wrong conclusions and fears and are ready to accept life for what it is will you be able to cure your soul. It is a necessary step in your development to give up some of the self-will that wishes to deny life in its present form. Only then will you have acquired the humility not to wish for protection from the risks and hardships of life. Your difficulties will cease to be necessary once you can fearlessly accept and shoulder them.

It is a good beginning to review your life, concisely enumerating all your troubles. And then go on to search for the common denominator. Do not turn away from anything hastily, even if it appears to be unconnected to your problems. Probe and you may experience a surprise. The most apparently unconnected happenings often turn out to have a single common denominator. When you have found that, you have made a major step forward in your search, for then you possess a clue to the image. But the common denominator by itself is not yet the key to the image. It is a strong directive, but by no means does it open the door that will make you fully understand your whole life. In order to get to the image itself, to all the devious ways in which it was formed, and to understanding the processes of your reactions when you formed it, you will have to explore your unconscious more thoroughly.

Do not let yourself be dissuaded by your inner resistance. For that resistance is just as erroneous and shortsighted as the image itself. In fact, the very same quality that makes you resist is the one that created the image in the first place without your knowing it and will continue to create untold misery for you, counteracting your conscious wishes. Indeed, your resistance causes you to lose what could be rightfully yours. So have enough wisdom to see through your resistance and to evaluate it for what it is worth. Do not let yourself be governed by it. How can you be a spiritual person, who is developed and detached in the right sense, if you remain governed by your unconscious forces and by the erroneous and ignorant conclusions that have formed such a painful image within you? This image is the one factor in your life responsible for every unhappiness. No one but you is responsible for your images. True, you did not know any better when you formed them, but you do now. Therefore you are now equipped to eliminate the source of your unhappiness.

And please do not say, “How can I be responsible for other people repeatedly acting in certain ways toward me?” As I said before, your image draws these happenings to you, as inevitably as night must follow day. It is like a magnet, a physical law, like the law of gravity. Your images influence the universal current entering your personal life sphere so that certain effects must follow.

If you do not have the courage to delve into your unconscious, face your image, dissolve it, and thus make a new person out of yourself, you will never be free in this life. You will always be chained and bound. The price for freedom is the courage and humility to face up to things. When you have taken all the necessary steps, the victory of freedom brings such joy that nothing can mar your happiness.

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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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