Pathwork Lecture 098: Wishful Daydreams

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Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 98
1996 Edition
February 16, 1962

Greetings, my dearest friends. God bless each one of you. Blessed is this hour.

Each step forward on this path brings you closer to a powerful eternal current in the universe. You may call it the life force, an aspect of God, pure reason, pure love, or pure being. Each little victory may give you an occasional glimpse of the great freedom and indescribable happiness of being a part of this eternal current. Humanity is separated from this current by obstructions in the psyche, such as selfishness, egocentricity, fearfulness and cowardice. Every time even a particle of these obstructions is eliminated, if only by some momentary recognition, people experience freedom, renewal and meaningfulness in their lives in greater measure.

From our vantage point, we see you barricading yourselves behind a wall of separateness. This wall is a useless and illusory form of self-protection. In the last analysis it is simply a barricade against happiness and freedom. So, my friends, realize for all time that the goal of dissolving your obstructions is to enable you to enter the great flow of the eternal current. The ultimate reason for living is to make your life meaningful, but without being merged into this current this cannot happen.

Many people feel that life is meaningless, whether or not such thoughts are conscious. In addition to successful self-discovery, there is another approach that helps you reach the point where life takes on new meaning: Question yourself about the purpose of what you do or what you want. Does your purpose include other people, or is it for the satisfaction you get from the activity itself? If you wish to find meaning in your life, cultivate the thought: “I wish to serve not only my own shortsighted immediate goal but to bring others meaning, help and happiness as well.” If such a thought is sincere, what better prayer could there be? What prayer of this sort would not be answered?

The inner person often cultivates such a desire without being consciously aware of it. Then things begin to happen. Conversely, the inner person may resist leaving the wall of separateness, even if there is some outer goodwill. Then nothing happens. Life continues to be meaningless. Real living is then constantly postponed. When this is the case, realize that you are unwilling to leave your inner isolation. You are too fearful and selfish, too self-centered in a negative sense, to break down the barriers between yourself and others, so you cannot experience life fully.

Such a new approach may be important for many of my friends. It may be a more direct way of dealing with some of your immediate life problems. If you cannot progress and gain sufficient new insight to relieve the dullness and meaninglessness of your existence, try this approach along with your usual way of working and searching within. If you can verify that you are disinclined to give to others, and even where you give you do so only out of duty, the awareness will bring about changes in you and prepare you to surrender your inner isolation.

And now, my friends, I would like to discuss a new topic: wishful daydreaming. Let us understand its origin, its harm and its benefit. For there is a benefit, though often a precarious one.

Basically, there are two different kinds of wishful daydreams. One comes from thoughts that arise from drives. These drives are connected with your idealized self-image, your self-glorification, your feelings of inadequacy and your lack of self-confidence. There isn’t a human being who does not, even consciously at times, indulge in fantasies. In them, you see yourself in situations in which you prove to those who have slighted you how superior or great you are. In such daydreams you are admired instead of slighted and you experience satisfaction, revenge and gratified pride. Thus you enjoy living in a way that exactly opposes your deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. You “correct” your undesirable reality with fantasy.

Obviously, there is harm in spending precious energy on such wishful daydreams — energy that could be much more constructively spent on finding the root of your sense of inadequacy and eliminating it. In living through such fantasies, you may experience momentary relief, but it is purely illusory. It is not enough to say that daydreaming is escaping reality. This is true, but let us understand more precisely how that happens. If you resist finding the truth about yourself, that you have made errors and cling to misconceptions, you cannot come to terms with yourself. Nor can you come to terms with others or with life as a whole. At least, you cannot learn to accept the areas that are affected by your problems. So you whisk away these inadequacies by experiencing their opposite in fantasy. It is true that the fantasy does bring relief to a drab life, but the availability of such relief will hamper your efforts at finding the cause and effect of your problems and instituting more constructive patterns.

There is also a benefit to daydreaming, however. Since realistic remedies are not sought, the activity of correcting life in fantasy removes aggression, hostility and destructive impulses. Another benefit is daydreams act as symptoms. How can you ever find a sickness if there are no symptoms? If a physical disease is hidden in an inner organ, without producing any symptoms, you have no opportunity to seek and treat the cause before it is too late. The same mechanism applies to your soul life.

Most people, however, enjoy the symptoms — the daydreams — and do not wish to recognize them for what they are; therefore, they do not benefit from them. Simply using some form of discipline to repress your desire to daydream in order to improve your life will not serve any purpose. It will cause greater anxiety, with different outlets and symptoms. It is better to create a little distance from this activity by observing the particular pattern of your daydreams. Make a note of them. Realize their general goal. This will offer you invaluable material about the root of your problems. Instead of repressing daydreams or indulging in them without trying to observe and understand, see them as the useful symptoms they are. You will thus turn a destructive activity into a constructive one, as long as it still seems necessary. Your psyche will give it up to the degree that you learn to love life in reality. Then the daydreams will simply cease by themselves. This cessation has to be a natural, organic process.

The second category of wishful daydreaming is emotional and comes from needs instead of drives. Your repressed, unrecognized needs may create an even stronger force, just because they are repressed. This force then must have an outlet. If healthy need fulfillment is hindered through your pseudosolutions, unrealistic fears and erroneous images, which paralyze your constructive energy and resourcefulness, then an imaginary outlet is necessary. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual fulfillment is then possible only in fantasy. This is actually a relief and not merely an escape from a drab reality.

When you are unwilling to leave your isolation, your needs cannot be fulfilled. As you know from previous talks on the subject, you either repress awareness of your needs or displace them onto superimposed needs that are not genuine. This displacement creates confusion and knots. It paralyzes your spontaneity, your capacity to feel, to live, and to experience reality. This, in turn, creates many vicious circles, which then make it even more difficult to break out of the destructive pattern. Since your psyche refuses to be cheated of real living, the accumulated pressure will often necessitate some outlet. You may then experience a certain fulfillment in daydreams. Observing and evaluating your daydreams can help you categorize them. It is very likely that you produce fantasy fulfillments for both real and false needs.

The more satisfying your fantasy fulfillment is, the less incentive you will have to resolve your problems so that your fulfillment can become real. In fantasy you live a life of your own behind your walls of isolation and can direct everything as you choose, without interference from others and without meeting obstructions. Thus fantasy seems more desirable than life. But the more you live in these daydreams, the less it will be possible for you to deal with outer obstructions, and the more their power will grow on you. Finally you will come to believe that actual fulfillment is impossible because you cannot direct people and circumstances as you choose. This negative view of fulfillment is, of course, utterly false, since fulfillment is possible in spite of everything not happening exactly when and how you desire it. But fulfillment is possible only if you are flexible and flow with life’s stream. Due to the unconscious conviction that in reality fulfillment is impossible, you can completely withdraw from living and no longer try to attain real satisfaction of your needs. The precarious pseudofulfillment is at least something, and seems so much more than what you are capable of experiencing in reality at this time. Determine whether this holds true for you and to what extent. This will be so beneficial, so healthy!

Some daydreaming of this sort may even spur you to seek fulfillment in reality. In that case, daydreams do have a beneficial effect. It depends on what level you produce them and what your attitude is toward them.

The more immature people are, the more “successful” their daydreaming will be and the less they will be capable of and willing to live their lives in the here and now. They want complete control of circumstances, which they can have only in fantasy. This also works in reverse, so that when they try to be flexible and resilient in meeting outer circumstances that do not entirely accord with their preconceived ideas, they will feel less capable of experiencing fulfillment. The discrepancy between daydreams in which they can make others behave, feel, and react as they want, and the reality, which is often different and requires flexibility and patience, is too much for them. Thus they prefer living in a make-believe world of future fulfillment, expecting that today’s fantasy will turn into tomorrow’s reality. Of course, the morrow never comes. The reality never conforms to the fantasy that has been laboriously prepared in daydreaming; this causes frustration. In truth, reality is infinitely more satisfying than the daydreams, but one needs courage and flexibility; one has to give up the need to control everything, throw away the blueprints, and live spontaneously.

All this should make it quite clear that the harm of daydreaming is that it may prevent you from living in reality.

Now, what is the benefit of this kind of daydreaming? It presents symptoms from which much insight can be gained; it may spur you to live more fully. Also, it can function as a barometer of inner changes. The different emotional quality of your fantasies and the kind of satisfaction you derive from them may indeed indicate the direction of your growth. Determining this is very beneficial.

Moreover, daydreaming of this kind encourages awareness of repressed needs. You will appreciate by now how important this is. But, my friends, often you are only vaguely aware of your needs, or if you are conscious of them, you do not evaluate them. You allow yourself to feel these needs only in your daydreams. The moment you step into real life, you shut off this awareness and you live as though this other part of you had nothing to do with the rest of your life. Your reaction to real life creates a split that could be mended by increased awareness. The harm of daydreams, then, is in your failure to take advantage of the benefits they could bring to your real life.

A greater awareness of your daydreaming can bring many benefits. My advice to you on this path is that whenever you find yourself engaged in such fantasizing, develop a new approach. Observe, evaluate, weigh and determine — without strain, compulsion or pressure — calmly and quietly. Make daydreams the useful symptom they are meant to be by learning about yourself, your real needs, your drives, your pseudo-fulfillment in fantasies and about their purpose.

Now, are there any questions on this subject?

QUESTION: I have many daydreams. When I stop, my fears become active. When my fears recede, I start daydreaming again. Why is that?

ANSWER: Because, my friend, both have the same common denominator, the same root. They are both an expression of your self-alienation. You know perfectly well from your recent findings that your conscious fears are not your real fears. They are displaced fears. They are the fears you want to have rather than the basic fear you do not wish to face: the fear of being yourself. Since these are not your real fears, they therefore represent the same escape mechanism as your daydreams. You experience either substitute fears or substitute fulfillments. Since you do not tackle the problem of becoming yourself, you cannot have the fulfillment that everyone inwardly strives for. You therefore create substitute fulfillments, which you partially experience in fantasy. It is as though your psyche said, “As long as I do not face my real fear, I do not mind having other fears. But as long as I remain in this attitude, I cannot be fulfilled, therefore I need substitute fulfillment.” One is tied to the other. This is why you alternate between experiencing pseudofears and pseudofulfillment in daydreams.

QUESTION: I can’t connect my daydreams and my fears in a concrete way.

ANSWER: That is not necessary. If you face the reason why you are afraid of being yourself and develop from that point, the other parts of the puzzle will fall into place. If you wish, you can observe the nature of your daydreams and the nature of your fears, and you might discover the connection that I just indicated.

QUESTION: What is the difference between drives and needs?

ANSWER: A need is a very basic function of the human entity. A need is something real, unless it is displaced or superimposed by an unreal one. A drive, as I mentioned earlier, comes from compulsions, which, in turn, come from misconceptions, your images, your lack of belief in yourself, your idealized self-image and your resort to pseudosolutions. These shortcomings create compulsive drives. The needs, on the other hand, may become unhealthy wants.

QUESTION: If a person does not daydream at all, is this a sign of lack of imagination or of maturity?

ANSWER: It can be a sign of maturity, but it is not always that. It would be a hasty oversimplification to answer this question with an either/or explanation. If a person does not consciously daydream, that may indicate something, but not necessarily a lack of imagination. This is a label that would not get us very far. For what is lack of imagination? It may mean that your creative faculties are inhibited. Not having conscious daydreams may also indicate resignation or stagnation. This may sound paradoxical, because I just finished telling you that an overproduction of daydreams, at the expense of actual living, is unhealthy. Now I am telling you that not to daydream may also be unhealthy and a symptom of unresolved problems. Nevertheless, this is often so.

The presence of a symptom may indicate something quite similar to its absence. Too much daydreaming at the expense of actual living may indicate that a part of the psyche is not reconciled to living. Too little daydreaming, on the other hand, may indicate an inner giving up. To determine accurately whether it is one or the other depends on the kind of daydreaming as well as other considerations.

Loss of conscious desires, wishes and goals, or hopelessness about them, which comes from not daring to leave one’s isolation and separateness, may paralyze the life force so much that the person no longer strives in any direction, not even in fantasy. But it is quite impossible to give a simple answer.

QUESTION: Isn’t it often the case that when one is younger one daydreams, but when one gets older and knows that these goals are not reachable anymore one gives up daydreaming entirely?

ANSWER: Of course. But often the daydreams have not been given up, but merely take on a different form.

QUESTION: I am confused about harmony and happiness. I always thought they were the same. Also, it is said that the universal laws are harmonious, yet many manifestations of nature are not harmonious at all.

ANSWER: You see only fragments of these laws. If you see a fragment of a whole, you cannot perceive its meaning and therefore cannot understand the harmony. In fact, a fragment may even appear as the opposite of the whole, although it is true that in a higher state of being harmony and happiness are the same, just as love, truth and wisdom, as well as any other divine manifestations, are all one. The lower the state of one’s development, the less these manifestations appear to be the same. For instance, a truth may hurt, at least temporarily. To a spiritually developed person, the most unpleasant truth will have a liberating effect and thus no longer be contradictory to love. The less developed you are, the more you experience unpleasant truth as harsh and unloving. Separation of concepts exists where imperfection and separateness of soul exist. Unification of these concepts, when they all become one, comes as development proceeds, and with it awareness of reality grows. The more you are in reality, the more your outlook widens and the more the many little fragments make up a whole. This merging is then perceived in the individual, as well as in the universe.

Every universe in creation conforms to the average state of the entities inhabiting that particular cosmic sphere. The harmony in the universal laws must therefore sometimes be expressed in their apparent hardship. Without this hardship, unification could not take place. This does not mean, my friends, that this is a punishment by an arbitrary God. It is inherent in the laws that work according to their environmental conditions. For example, an electric current will manifest differently in a wet environment than in a dry one. The potent forces of the universal laws are determined by the existing “climate” at any given moment. In other words, what you do with the laws determines their manifestation. Whether this is done consciously or unconsciously makes no difference. Thus the laws may at times have a benign effect and at other times a momentarily negative one. But even that is geared to establishing balance eventually.

QUESTION: Sometimes when one has an unresolved problem and one goes to sleep relaxed, intending to have the problem resolved, one wakes up with the solution. Then one’s unconscious mind has solved it….

ANSWER: Whatever terminology we use, there is really only one thing important to know about the meaning of the unconscious, and that is lack of awareness. When you are unconscious, you are not aware. Now, there are degrees, of course. Do not imagine that your unconscious mind is either a perfect and wise super-creature or a monstrous animal. Many people have extreme attitudes toward their unconscious. The unconscious mind does not necessarily have anything to do with your real self, the higher self, or with the lower self, the part that you deny. Both sides of your nature can be partly conscious and partly unconscious.

For instance, you may be conscious of certain aspects in yourself, or about general concepts, but you are not conscious of their entire significance. Your awareness is neither completely absent, nor is it completely present. There exists, then, a degree of awareness.

That you can resolve certain problems during sleep by instructing your unconscious mind happens because you have knowledge of which you are not aware. In certain states of relaxation and concentration, such as concentrating on the will to find a solution before going to sleep, the unconscious knowledge can reach surface awareness. Your entire striving on this earth sphere is to increase your awareness of what is already stored in you. In such a state of relaxation it is also possible for spirit helpers to aid in bringing your own knowledge to the surface. In other words, it is a combination of the spirit world working with your own real self.

What is necessary for such awareness is the constructive functioning of your inner will. Therefore, when a person goes to sleep facing a confusion or a problem and wholeheartedly desires to resolve it in the best possible way, even if this means giving up a selfish aim, then that person creates a state of inner openness where productive universal forces of truth can get to work. When the confusion is not tackled, when one is not fully aware of what one is confused about, then such answers cannot come. Hence conscious effort has to be made most of the time. Sometimes, of course, an unconscious desire may exist of which the person is unaware.

I give you blessings, each and every one of you. May you derive benefit from these words, may they help you to a new approach to your problems, to yourselves, to your life experience. Be blessed, every one of you. Blessed are your wonderful efforts. Rejoice in the knowledge that whatever you do in life, every step of finding yourself in sincerity has great meaning, even if you are as yet unaware of the effect it must have, not only upon yourself but upon many others, upon your universe at large. Be in peace, be in God!

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