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First of all, let us determine the difference between the healthy and unhealthy motives in desires. We will not concern ourselves with the motives of desires which are obviously unhealthy because they are destructive. Instead, we will delve into the deeper regions of the mind and soul where the deviations are very subtle and unobtrusive.

You may have a perfectly legitimate desire, yet it may be unhealthy. Unhealthy and tense desires are always linked with fear. In certain teachings you hear much about a state of desirelessness, but on the plane where most of you are it is an impossibility. So here we can only try to find the difference between what makes desires healthy and what makes them unhealthy.

One rule is that whenever you desire something for the sake of itself, the desire is healthy. But when you desire something as a means to an end, it may be unhealthy. If this is the case, your desire automatically becomes tense. It becomes a need, and therefore fear must follow in its wake.

Let me give you an example: If you desire financial security for the sake of enjoying that state, there is nothing unhealthy about it, even though many of you may think this is a selfish desire. We will discuss this separately a little later. But if you desire financial security for the sake of impressing others, or to alleviate an inherent feeling of inferiority, then it is unhealthy: then it becomes a need for something other than what financial security is in itself. The goal then is distorted to serve a need other than that which the goal was supposed to fill in a healthy way. This circumstance may be entirely unrecognized. You may feel only a pressing need. You may find abundant rational and valid explanations as to why the desire is so pressing, while underneath the true motive remains hidden. And the hidden motive always causes the fear that you might not get what you need. The more unconscious the motive, the more unhealthy the desire, and the more it will stand in the way of your fulfillment.

You may say, “Why, I know many people who certainly desire money for very unsavory purposes and yet they are successful. They use their wealth for power over other people, to be important, yet they seem to succeed.” This may be so, my friends, but there are many reasons for it. It may be that such a person has less of a conscience. The farther your development has progressed, the stronger your conscience becomes, and it registers wrong motives very accurately. Thus the conscience puts prohibitive currents in the way of fulfillment. With a person of lesser development, this intervention of the conscience may be absent. In that case the wish-capacity can function even though the motive may be impure. The mere fact that the impure and selfish motives are conscious causes the wish capacity to function better. Because, as I said, the more unconscious the wrong motives, the more powerful the prohibition is.

Or the person may be constituted so that the self-punishing and self-destructive forces, put in motion by wrong motives, affect not so much the financial, but another area of the person’s life. However, you are not able to trace the connection between the two, and probably the person in question cannot see it either.

The constructive life force has its counterpart in a negative force, emanating from confusion, ignorance, and wrong motives. Your personality registers extremely accurately all desires, tendencies, and motives. You may not be consciously aware of it registering, yet it is there in the unconscious. If you have wrong and confused motives that are self-serving and cause detriment to others — may they be ever so subtle — destructive currents result. These destructive currents either prohibit the fulfillment of the particular conscious wish itself, or they may affect negatively another area of fulfillment, the desire for which may or may not be conscious. But deep within yourself you know there is something wrong with your wish and therefore you say to yourself — though not in conscious thought — “I do not deserve that which I wish.”

Humanity is very confused about what is selfish and what is unselfish. Suppose you desire perfect health. In your praying for it, or simply in your awareness of desiring such a state, you may have thoughts like this: “This is selfish. I have no right to desire something so strongly that benefits just me. Who am I to deserve this?” Given these reservations, your wish capacity does not function fully. In such reasoning — unconscious as it may be — there is much falsity and error, my friends.

You often believe something is selfish that in reality has nothing to do with selfishness. But when, in your petty vanity, you place disproportionate importance on your own person, you haven’t an inkling that you are egocentric or selfish. To desire health because in your full strength, vigor, and vitality you can fulfill more and can give more — to others and to yourself — is certainly not selfish in the least, even though it seems to serve just you. But if you do not actually desire health in order to benefit others directly but because you just want to enjoy it, even this wish need not be selfish.

But should you desire health for the purpose of harming others, be it ever so subtly, then it would be selfish. When I say harm, I do not mean it in the obvious sense. I mean, that, for instance, the desire to impress others is also harmful. What happens when you set out to impress others? You might trigger off envy — and you may enjoy this envy. It makes you feel strong and powerful at the expense of another person’s smallness. Now, this may not often apply to health, but this is the kind of thing that happens whenever you have the need to show off to others.

Thus we come back to the point we first raised; when the goal is not desired for its own sake, but serves something else — namely your need to impress others, to make yourself “bigger” and “better,” enviable in the eyes of others. You see, a wrong and harmful motive in a desire need not be outright wicked, or a wish to inflict material disadvantage on another person. Your petty vanity, your need to be above others, even if it exists only in a subtle way, suffices to twist your motives and make them unhealthy. Hence your fulfillment is blocked, your wish capacity hampered.

In order to avoid all possible misunderstanding, let me emphasize again that not in all cases do the self-punishing currents affect a conscious desire, even though this desire may contain unhealthy motives in addition to healthy and conscious ones. Self-destructive and self-punishing forces, brought forth by the psyche the moment a wrong motive is registered, may affect another wish-fulfillment you cherish. It may even concern a fulfillment of a wish you are not conscious of.

You may be burdened with certain difficulties in your life which you take for granted, although this does not preclude your resentment and rebellion against them. It just never occurs to you to desire a different state of affairs in a constructive and positive way — which includes seeking and understanding the inner block and the prohibition you set up. Only then can you truly express a wish that is free of hindrances stemming from your misconceptions.

You, who are on this path, will find it very useful to clarify what your true desires are. You will then find quite often that what you consciously desire you do not desire completely, without doubt and restriction, without misgivings and compromises. A part in you wants the fulfillment, but another part does not. The purpose of this search is to become aware of the latter part and investigate the reasons for the hesitation and the uncertainty.

Self-punishment for hidden wrong motives is only one reason that prohibits your wish-capacity. There is, for instance, the further reason that whatever you desire requires a price. Unconsciously you may not be completely ready to pay the price — the true price, not the outer one. The outer one is often overemphasized as a compensation for the inner disinclination to pay the price in a deeper and real sense. Thus, the problem is twofold: outwardly and consciously you tensely desire something, while inwardly and unconsciously you hesitate and do not wish a certain part of it. The stronger this unconscious part is the tenser your outer straining becomes. You are unaware that unconsciously you do not find the fulfillment worth having if you cannot have it without paying the particular price it requires. The goal thus becomes of doubtful value.

Wherever you have such hidden reasoning in your unconscious, you are immature. You know that very well by now. And the immature person wants the impossible. A child cannot have an adult sense of responsibility which includes at all times the awareness that everything requires a price. The immature part of your personality hopes against hope that perhaps after all it will be possible to get what it wants without the necessity to pay the price. Until you become certain that this cannot be, you postpone the wish-fulfillment by setting up blocks.

Find these inner, hidden reasonings, investigate them closer and come to terms with them on the basis of your more mature intellect. Find specifically: What are your desires? Why do you desire them? What would be the required price? Are you ready, completely, without reserve, to pay this price? Do not force yourself to say, “Yes, I am ready,” when emotionally you are not. As long as you are not truly ready to pay the price without forcing yourself, it would not work anyway. But at least you will now understand why you cannot have what you desire with only part of your personality.

You will realize that no one but you prohibits the fulfillment. This recognition will be healthy and will help you avoid further wrong impressions about God, fate, and life. You will give yourself time to grow into the necessary state of development, where to pay the price will not be something difficult or seemingly disadvantageous. You will be able to work calmly on the reasons, now out in the open, why it seems so hard to pay a particular price or to accept the principle in general.

When you investigate yourself along these lines, you will also find wrong, impure, selfish, and unhealthy motives in your desires that are not directed toward the goal itself. By finding and facing them squarely, you will automatically eliminate a certain degree of self-destructiveness.

I realize that those friends who are not active on this path of self-search will interpret what I am saying on an outer level. Therefore it may seem repetitious to them, for I have often said similar words. But those who are continuously working and are approaching the deeper levels of their souls will find new meaning and value in them. So check your emotional reactions to specific desires. I cannot stress emphatically enough how important this will be for you. Then you can go on from there. You will not find relief until and unless you discover that in you which prohibits fulfillment. Though there may be several additional reasons for it, feeling undeserving and disinclined to pay the price are the two basic factors that stand in the way. All other obstacles — directly or indirectly — stem from these two.

Let us get back to the feeling of being undeserving, which is nothing but an inferiority feeling. Such feelings are rarely based on what you consciously think of yourself. Often you do not even know why you have such feelings of inferiority. They may not coincide at all with your conscious opinion of yourself. Not knowing why you feel so inferior makes you feel so hopeless. If you only knew why, you could adjust to it if it is something in you that you cannot change. Accepting it, you would cease to have the gnawing feeling of inferiority. Or, if it can be altered, you could go about changing it. But since you do not know what it is, you remain hopeless. No certainty is ever as hard to bear as uncertainty.

Let me tell you, my friends, that you never have inferiority feelings because of something that you cannot change. No matter how hard it may be, it does not in itself push you into the despair triggered by inferiority feelings — provided your attitude about it is healthy and without hidden elements. Remember this. The real reasons for your inferiority feelings are the little deviations that result from your trying to deceive yourself. These deviations are registered, but as long as the registering takes place in the unconscious only, they manifest as a feeling of inferiority. That is why one loses one’s inferiority feelings as one finds one’s unconscious deviations and comes to term with them.

Let me return to the example of desiring financial security. Suppose you desire it to impress those who have humbled you — or who you think have. This wrong motive, which you may be unaware of, will then cause inferiority feelings in you, even though the very goal of this desire is to eliminate these feelings. In other words, you seek the wrong remedy in blindness, ignorance, and immaturity.

You can be quite certain, my friends, that the only reason for inferiority feelings is self-deception about your motives: why you want or do certain things. When you face squarely that which is in you, imperfect as the desire, action, or attitude may be, the inferiority complex must cease to the degree that you gain objective clarity about yourself. You will then no longer find it necessary to desire things as a means to an end, in order to accomplish something else.

If you desire wealth because you want to be wealthy, it is not a means to an end. But if you desire wealth so as to alleviate an inferiority complex, then you want wealth to fulfill something that stands in no direct relationship to the goal itself. By so doing, you are running around in one of those famous vicious circles: the wrong motive makes you feel even more inferior. Then, on the next turn, in order to eliminate this feeling, you strengthen the wrong motive, believing that more of the same might be the remedy. To break this hopeless running around in circles, begin to see clearly your motives, your desires, and what you want them to do for you. Do this with clear vision and with all the honesty you can muster.


QUESTION: How can we tell if desires come from the higher or the lower self?

ANSWER: By examining the desires and their real motives. Very clearly and very concisely ask yourself the question, “What is it I want and why do I want such and such? What is my real motive behind it?” You see, it may very often be that you have a right desire coming from a good motive. At the same time there is also an impure motive in it. The moment you recognize this, you already have done something for your purification.

Purifying does not mean that you are already perfect; purification is the process of becoming perfect. An integral part of the process is to say, “In addition to my good motive, there is also a selfish or vain motive hidden under the good cause.” Take the example of a person who is spiritually very active with clean and pure motives to help other people. These good motives exist indubitably. At the same time, the desire-current of the lower self mingles with the good motives, perhaps as the ego’s vain desire to be outstanding, to be admired, to be an authority. The moment the mixture of motives is calmly and freely recognized, even if you are as yet incapable of shedding the impure ones, purification is already taking place. With such an act, you have already raised your consciousness to a pretty high degree. Something in the chemistry of your body and soul begins to change with such clear self-recognition, because you approach truth.

The severest and most frequent violation of spiritual law that is so often overlooked by human beings is not living in truth. You all imagine that I mean you should not lie. I do not mean that at all. It is self-understood that a person should be honest and should not lie. But lying to oneself is often infinitely more dangerous and harmful than lying to others. Why is it more dangerous? Because when you lie to others, at least you are aware of it; you know it. Thus you are a step nearer to truth than when you lie to yourself. When you lie to yourself, you do not realize it, not because you cannot, but because you do not want to! So you have completely turned away from truth. That is a very grave violation, setting you apart from God. It surrounds you with a dark wall behind which you must be unhappy, quite apart from the outer conflicts which the violation creates for you sooner or later. Behind the wall you are lonely and lost. The only way you can find your way into the light is by tearing down the wall and looking at what is behind it, even if what you find is unpleasant. The first time you will struggle, but after you have torn down the first few stones of the wall, the relief will be tremendous. Then you will know what it means to be on this path.

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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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