Pathwork Lecture 148: Positivity and Negativity: One Energy Current

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Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 148
1996 Edition
December 2, 1966

Greetings, my dearest friends. May the blessings of creative intelligence, existing all around and within you, strengthen and enlighten you so that these words will echo in you and will serve as material to help you continue successfully your path toward finding your real self.

Many of you, my friends, have now found a layer within your selves where you are face to face with your own destructiveness. And I am referring to more than the discovery of an emotion, the acknowledgement of a momentary hostility; I mean an overall, pervasive, essential, lingering destructiveness that has been dormant all along and merely covered up. It is quite a different experience to find this layer, to feel it, and to ascertain the condition you were in before you had this new awareness. You are now in a state in which you can observe yourself thinking, feeling, and acting destructively, while before you were at best only theoretically aware of such destructiveness and could merely surmise its presence by the unpleasant manifestations in your life. Now you are coping with the problem of how to get out of this condition.

You are puzzled because you do not like being this way. You even know and comprehend quite profoundly that this condition is useless and senseless, that destructiveness does not serve one good purpose. Nevertheless, you find yourself in the situation of being unable to let go of this destructiveness.

It is not easy to reach an awareness where you can see yourself think, feel, and act destructively; where you are furthermore aware that this causes you misery, and yet are unable and unwilling to give up this way of being. It is a great measure of success, if this word can be used, to be aware of being in this state. But to accomplish the second part of this phase of your evolution, namely the letting go of destructiveness, the nature of destructiveness must be better understood.

The whole human problem of a dualistic concept of life has a great deal to do with humanity’s lack of comprehension of its own destructiveness. Human beings are geared to think of a destructive force as something opposed to a constructive force. Even those of you who theoretically know quite well that there is no such division tend to think, “Here are my negative feelings. I wish I could have positive feelings instead.” Or you believe that after the negative emotions are dissipated, a new set of feelings will follow, as though this new set of feelings consisted of an entirely different energy or psychic material. When you speak of the two forces, the two sets of feelings, it is merely a figure of speech, a way of expressing two different kinds of experiences. However, this figure of speech is an expression of the dualistic misconception operative within all human consciousness.

Actually, there is only one power. This is very important to understand, my friends, particularly when you come to deal with your own destructiveness and negativity. There is one life force which energizes every expression of life. The same life force can flow in a constructive, positive, affirming way, or it can turn into a destructive, negating current. In order to understand this process in a specific and personal way, I will discuss it from the point of view of an individual in relation to his or her life. I will not give a discourse on general spiritual principles here, but only touch upon them when it is necessary to the understanding of the whole topic.

First I will state that the life force as such, when untampered with, is totally constructive, totally positive and affirming. Therefore it produces total pleasure for any living, feeling, perceiving consciousness. The more fully this consciousness is developed, the fuller the pleasure it can experience from and through the pure life force, in whatever way this may find expression. The pure life force cannot be anything but beauty.

Every life organism tends to realize this potentiality in nature — a newborn baby, a plant, a cell. When this natural flow is interfered with, the energy current seeking expression is blocked and prohibited from flowing to its destiny; the natural flow is stopped by conditions. These may be either outer or inner conditions — or both. When young children encounter conditions in the outer environment that prohibit the natural flow of the life force, the extent of the damage depends upon how free they are from inner blockages. If inner blockages exist and lie dormant because they have not been eliminated in previous existences, the outer negative conditions will create a severe blockage, freezing the floating energy current and petrifying it into a hardened psychic mass. When no previous blockages exist, the outer negative conditions will create only a temporary disturbance in the flow of the life force. People’s persistent problems in life result from such blocked energy. Unblocking can occur only when the relationship between the inner and the outer negative conditions responsible for the blockage are thoroughly understood. The child’s immature ego faculties make adequate dealing with the negative condition impossible. An outer negative condition can therefore never be totally responsible for the condensation of energy and for the paralysis of the life stream. It can only be the final activating factor, bringing the dormant negative inner condition to the fore.

The place in the soul where outer negative conditions activate the dormant inner negative condition is the very point at which the positive life force turns into a destructive non-life force. Feelings turn from love to fear and hostility, from trust to distrust, and so on. Finally, the negative power becomes so unbearable that the feelings connected with it are numbed altogether.

When human beings find themselves on such a path, it is very important for them to understand specifically that a negative emotion cannot be replaced by a different positive emotion. It must be reconverted to its original state. How do we go about this, my friends? Each individual must find the way to reconvert this energy flow into its original state. Each life manifestation you experience that is unpleasant, problematic, or anxiety-producing is the result of a repetition of the original event in this life, when the positive pleasure force was blocked, hindered, or prohibited and has therefore turned into unpleasure.

Now, it cannot be stated accurately that in this unpleasure, pleasure is totally absent. I mentioned this before in a different context, but this condition is as yet not sufficiently understood, and so I am returning to it from a new angle. When you find yourself stymied in your attempt to overcome negativity, it is extremely important to sense deep within yourself the pleasurable aspect of this negativity, regardless of how much pain you feel in your surface consciousness. The difficulty of ridding yourself of destructiveness is, of course, also due to other reasons which you have already verified: the desire to punish or to use the forcing current that says, “If I am sufficiently unhappy, that will show the world how wrong it is not to give me what I want.” But these reasons do not constitute the deepest difficulty in dissolving negativity. It is necessary to sense intuitively, and then to feel very specifically, that in your negativity, paradoxically, both pleasure and unpleasure are simultaneously present.

This is very understandable when you look at the process in terms of the explanation I have given. The pleasure principle cannot possibly be completely absent even though it appears in a distorted form. The basic ingredients of the life energy must always remain, no matter how distorted its manifestation and consequently how difficult the detection of the original nature of the life current. This is precisely why negativity seems so difficult to shed. The pleasurable aspect of it always exists. When you have understood that only the form of expression must be changed, so that the identical life current can reconvert itself, negativity can be left behind. When you have understood that the painful aspects, meaning the negative expression, can be abandoned, while the pleasurable aspect grows stronger, negativity can transform itself. When you have understood that a new set of emotions will not come from out of nowhere, but that the same current will manifest differently, then what seems hard will happen by itself.

When you meditate on this, it will become possible for you to be aware of the pleasure attached to your destructiveness. Instead of feeling guilty about this pleasure and consequently repressing it, you will be in a position to allow the destructive current to unfold, express itself, and reconvert itself. The attachment of or connection between pleasure and destructiveness has been instrumental in the widespread guilt human beings feel about all experiences of pleasure. This in turn is responsible for numbing all feelings. For how can pleasure be liberated from destructiveness if both are considered equally wrong? And yet, human beings cannot live without pleasure even if they have to have it in secret, for life and pleasure are one and the same. When pleasure is linked to destructiveness, destructiveness cannot be given up. It feels as if life were given up. This brings about a situation where, on one level of your inner life you hold on equally to pleasure and destructiveness, feeling guilty and at the same time afraid of both. On a more and superficially conscious level, you are numbed and feel little or nothing.

It is not sufficient to know this generally; this knowledge must be brought back to your specific circumstances. What is the outer manifestation at this moment that causes you continuous anguish? It is not a momentary experience caused by a one-time condition that then dissolves when new conditions arise. No, these are the problems in your life you cannot come to terms with. To truly resolve these conditions which we call images and which forever recreate similar conditions and new situations, the blocked and paralyzed energy must be made fluid again. And this can only happen when you begin, as the first step in this particular phase of your development, to ascertain the pleasurable aspect in your destructiveness. You must feel the pleasure attached to the unpleasure of the problem. This must be a distinct realization.

Since the pleasure current in the life force primarily manifests itself in your life as sexuality, destructive, blocked energy contains blocked sexual energy. It follows that outer problems must be symbolic or representative of how sexual energy was first blocked by outer conditions. The pain of this blockage has caused destructiveness which at the same time contains aspects of the pleasure principle. Therefore, every difficult situation in life represents a sexual fixation in the innermost psyche that you fear and run away from. Because you do not face up to this, the outer conditions become unresolvable; the situation becomes more and more alienated from its inner cause where it is still enlivened by the pleasure aspect.

You on this path must therefore go back in, as it were, and permit yourself to feel the pleasure in the destructiveness. Then and only then will you truly comprehend the painful outer situation which, offhand, may have nothing to do with your emotional life or with any sexual problems. I have often mentioned that in your most secret sexual fantasies lie the secrets of your conflicts, as well as the key to their resolution. When you find the parallel between the outer problem and the pleasure current in your sexuality, you will be able to make the frozen energy fluid again. This will enable you to dissolve the negativity, the destructiveness, and this of course is essential for the elimination of the outer problem.

Your inability to feel the pleasure in the unpleasure is the result of your fighting against yourself and not liking yourself for this particular distortion. Consequently, there is denial, repression, and further alienation from the nucleus where these conditions can be experienced and gradually altered.

Every problem must have such a nucleus, where the original current has been blocked and is therefore distorted, and where the pleasure/unpleasure dichotomy produces an unconscious fixation of the pleasure experience on a negative situation. You then fight against this for any number of reasons, with the further consequence that outer problems begin to form and then repeat and repeat. They cannot be overcome until this nucleus is experienced. This applies to all stubborn problems, whether or not they seem to have anything to do with sexuality.

Now, my friends, the chain reaction I have just explained must be personally understood and worked through. You must stop running away from this distortion in yourself. You must allow yourself to see it, to let it unfold within you, to live it through within yourself — and then you will see the dichotomy between pleasure and unpleasure. You will understand and experience why and how destructiveness, in whatever shape or form it manifests in your life, seems so difficult to abandon. At the same time it will loosen up far more than before, when you tried to force it away without this understanding.

All this may sound very theoretical to the person who is still far from this point, but many of you, my friends, are near or at the point where these words can be put into action. This will be a turning point in your inner and consequently your outer life, after which it will no longer be a problem to abandon destructiveness. For one cannot succeed by forcing it away with the surface will, without a deep comprehension of the forces within that constitute this very destructiveness. Yes, the will must of course be there in principle, but at the same time, as I have said in so many other contexts, the outer will should only be used for the purpose of liberating the inner powers that make the development a natural, organic, harmonious process. Thus destructiveness dissolves itself. It is not deliberately dropped like a cloak, nor are constructive feelings produced by a similar act of will. It is an evolutionary process within yourself, right here and now.

Another area where you human beings find yourselves extremely blocked, hindered, and impatient with your own evolution or development, concerns envy. This is a much more important topic than most of you realize. Here again, a number of my friends have begun to see that wherever their life is problematic, envy exists. Wherever there is no problem, they are free from it. Envy gives rise to self-hatred and to running away from that point within the envy-current which has to be transcended in order to really and truly reconvert it to its original nature.

What causes envy is again the dualistic concept, in which life is understood in terms of either/or. “Either I have or the other has” is the nature of all envy. This points to the limitation with which humanity experiences the universe. The universe is infinite in its abundance, and really knowing this makes envy impossible. What the other person has is not taken away from you. What you have was never taken away from another. The dualistic misconception presents innumerable problems. It not only creates envy, but also guilt; it paralyzes the relaxed powerful flow of reaching toward the good that can be yours. It makes you very hesitant to express and experience the best that is possible and makes you see problems in a distorted fashion. It produces guilt for wanting what others have and at the same time envying them.

This distorted perception of life conditions is also responsible for the endemic competitive attitude that afflicts humanity. This is manifest particularly strongly in some civilizations at certain periods of their history. However, understanding the spiritual truth in this matter makes it impossible for people to measure themselves against any other person. Comparison between two people is totally unrealistic; it measures what cannot be measured. The person who is no longer caught in this error will be free from a specific strain of destructiveness. Once you comprehend the uniting principle, that good is never divisible, a number of problems are eliminated. You will not be envious and therefore you will not feel guilty. You will not be faced with the apparent necessity of renouncing something in favor of someone else, because you will know deeply that what is yours is yours and what is the other person’s is his or hers. That very fact will make the selfishness and dishonesty existing in the childish nature, where the tendency to cheat life always prevails, impossible. You will not have to try to get away with anything, nor will you have to see yourself as special when you compare yourself with others.

In the last question and answer session we discussed this topic in connection with a question about the harm of desire or need to be special. In connection with the topic of this lecture, I say that this need is due to confusing the rightful tendency toward, and the inner need to bring about, full self-realization. What is the confusion here? Full self-realization always enhances the uniqueness of the individual. It does not level off individuality, nor does it imply mediocrity in the least. Quite the contrary. Why, then, is it believed that not needing to be special means giving up individuality or even accepting mediocrity? The answer is that when the need to be special contains a desire to triumph over others, it marks an attitude of being against others. It implies that self-enhancement can only exist at the expense of others. This is the either/or resulting from the erroneous dualistic concepts which are always destructive. It actually does destroy the other’s value, at least in terms of your desire and aim, if not in actual fact. The further consequence is that the deep-seated self-regulating process of conscience says no to this endeavor and stops the outgoing energy current. The current then becomes either negative or numbed. This means that you are either passive, paralyzed and held back, or you are ruthless, with the inevitable guilt and outer consequences.

The truth of the matter and the solution to this confusion can only be found when you distinguish between two totally different ways of measuring or of evaluating what amounts to two totally different goals. When you want to be special in order to triumph over others, when your uniqueness exists at the expense of others and measures itself against others, this uniqueness is destructive and must lead to innumerable problems. But when you realize that your own specialness can be unlocked without measuring yourself against others, you will have no problem whatsoever. You will be free to unblock and unfold the best in yourself without infringing upon other people’s rights or needs. Quite the contrary, your best will contribute to others rather than take away from them, and you will give your best without the need to cheat, to get by, to get more than you give. The freeing of the power will activate more power. There will be no need to put the brakes on. Envy, guilt, dishonesty, and the belittling of others create the need to put the brakes on one’s most constructive outgoing power current.

When you are ignorant of the fact that you have within you the possibilities for self-fulfillment, the only way you can conceive of expressing yourself is by measuring and comparing yourself with others. When you know that, regardless of whether you are better or worse than others, you have your own quota of growth to fulfill for yourself, you will not have any conflict about this issue. Of course you should give your best, but if in any way, no matter how secretly, your best is designed to lord it over others or to get special unfair privileges, and obtain something for nothing, you will get yourself in trouble. Then individuality cannot unfold because ego, vanity, and ruthlessness take its place and automatically hinder the positive power at work and convert it into destructive power.

When you feel envy, or — looking at the other side of the same coin — a need to impress others or be better than they are, try to feel the constructive power behind the need. For this need is only a distortion of the inborn urge to realize the best in you. When you do this, you will no longer find yourself blocked and paralyzed.

Are there any questions?

QUESTION: What makes the perception of pleasure so unique and specific in relation to the unpleasure?

ANSWER: This is a very important question and the answer may not seem to be a direct one, but it is. It is known that you human beings fear pleasure when you are still full of conflicts and problems the nature of which you do not understand. Any of you on this path who go deeply enough to probe your reactions discover this startling fact: you are more afraid of pleasure than of pain. If you have not verified this reaction in yourself you may find this contention unbelievable, for you consciously resent the unpleasure and wish it away. And there is also truth to this, for unpleasure cannot really be wanted. You cannot resolve this dichotomy unless you go deep into your psychic processes to feel the pleasure in the unpleasure.

Total pleasure is feared for a very important reason: the pleasure supreme of the cosmic energy current must seem unbearable, frightening, overwhelming, and almost annihilating when the personality is still geared to negativity and destructiveness. To put it differently, to the degree that the personality has impaired its integrity, and impurity, dishonesty, cheating, and malice still exist in the psyche, pure pleasure must be rejected. Hence the negative pleasure is the only way the entity can experience a modicum of pleasure at all. When you who are on your path find that deep within yourself you fear pleasure as a danger, you must ask yourself, “Where am I not honest with life or with myself? Where do I cheat? Where do I impair my integrity?” These areas show precisely where, why, and to what degree pure pleasure must be rejected. When you ascertain in yourself that you fear and reject pleasure, and it is not that life deprives you of it, you can do something by asking yourself the pertinent questions and subsequently finding the elements of impairment in you. This is the way out. When you find where you violate your sense of decency and honesty, you can unlock the door which has closed your access to transforming the negative pleasure and forced you to reject pleasure that is unhampered by pain.

QUESTION: Would you define pleasure as expansion and pain as contraction?

ANSWER: Yes, that is quite true. Pain is a contraction in the sense that it is a cramp. But in pure pleasure there is also contraction, only in a rhythmic smooth motion, in a harmonious way. Unpleasure is an extended cramp-like contraction.

QUESTION: The way I experience fear of pleasure is by experiencing a fear of losing myself in pleasure. Is that what you meant?

ANSWER: Yes, this is precisely what I meant. This can be explained when you think about it in terms of trust. When you, consciously or unconsciously, deeply sense the hidden little mechanisms by which you avoid being straightforward with life itself, when your response to life is negative in any form and consequently your sense of integrity is impaired, you cannot trust yourself. Nor can you trust yourself when you run away from the nucleus of your negative pleasure principle, as explained in this lecture. It has to be accepted, understood, and inwardly lived through in full self-acceptance before you can trust yourself to be unguarded.

As I have often said, your innermost self, your own psychic energies, and the life energies are of one and the same substance; you cannot trust yourself without trusting life. If you distrust yourself on some level for any reason — right or wrong — how can you abandon yourself to plunge into your inner depths and into the stream of life? To lose yourself in this way, trust must exist and this trust is, in principle, absolutely justifiable. But in practice, in specific manifestations, it is often not justifiable. Full self-acceptance must be established before trust can exist. Then there will no longer be any fear of losing yourself, because such loss of self will be experienced as bringing you back to yourself, richer than ever.

QUESTION: Is the principle of pain and pleasure characteristic of this earth sphere?

ANSWER: It is, but this does not merely apply to incarnated beings, but to all who are in this specific state of consciousness, whether they are in the flesh or out of the body. It applies to all those whose consciousness is geared to the concept of dualism, who cannot perceive the conciliating, unifying way of creation, of life, and so within themselves. In all these cases, pleasure and pain must exist as opposites. As I said at the beginning of this lecture, on this plane the good and the bad forces, pleasure and pain, are thought of as two separate forces, not one and the same energy current.

QUESTION: It seems to me that when I do something I don’t like, which is meant to invite anger or guilt or jealousy, that I have someone else whom I hold responsible for my being the way I am. Is this a valid observation and what should I do about it?

ANSWER: Even if some of the blame put on the other person’s doorstep is partially justified — and this is usually the case with sane human beings — there must be something in you that you ignore and that bothers you, for otherwise there could be no problem or disharmonious feeling in you. It would be relatively easy to accept the other person’s shortcomings or failings. Otherwise you would not be involved in situations which must affect the self negatively. The very existence of such disturbances points to unknown elements which must be ascertained in order to eliminate destructive feelings. Hence this anger is essentially directed against the self. You may be angry because you are angry and you cannot accept this emotion in yourself. You may become angry because whatever angers you in the other person may exist in a slightly different form in yourself and you cannot accept that. In short, the question must be asked, “What is it in me that has produced this situation? How am I a co-producer of this situation? In what way do I contribute to it?”

Again, the dualistic concept of life hinders and confuses you. If one attempts to solve such a problem in an attitude of finding either the one or the other person at fault, no solution exists. Neither of the two alternatives satisfies, for it must be either off the mark or based on a superficial evaluation. True enlightenment can only come when the unconscious interaction of one’s inner problem affecting the other person’s inner problem is seen as interacting vicious circles. When you truly realize that the situation must be a co-production, then you can begin to make serious headway in the right direction.

The second thing is that you often cannot find the answer because you look for the cause in a limited or moralizing way. The way you may contribute to the situation may be altogether different from what you feel defensive about. For example, you might try to exonerate yourself because you sense a badness in yourself. Actually your contribution may not be anything bad or mean at all. It may be rather that you underestimate your values, your rights, your entire person. You may be weak, submissive, not assertive enough and thus encourage a negative situation in a very different way from that which you vaguely defend against in yourself. Such weakness is always a result of some disturbance of the psyche on a deep level and cannot help but create negativity and destructiveness. The way to eliminate the weakness is not by forcing the destructive feelings away. This cannot succeed. One must work on a very deep level with these problems. Often weakness is confused with goodness, and strength with ruthlessness or selfishness. When caught in these confusions, you do not find the way to resolve the problem and find the clear truth.

Therefore, I suggest the following meditation that reaches deep into the self: “I do want to see where I possibly violate some spiritual law, where I am wrong in the usual sense of the word, but I would also like to know where I am weak and confused and therefore where negative emotions come into existence. Where is it that I am perhaps not aware of my true values, and because of this lack of awareness, I fight in the wrong way? I would like to see these elements and straighten them out. I want to see all sides.” The different sides usually interact; they are not unconnected elements. Lack of self-assertion on one level may induce an angry over-assertion on the surface. When the meditation is directed into such channels, new vision may come — vision that was hitherto blocked.

May your understanding grow so that you sense your own distortions and how these distortions are a valuable life energy that can be activated in the specific way I showed here. Be blessed, every one of you; receive the strength and the power that flows into you. Make use of it, travel this path to the very nucleus of your own inner being. Be in God!

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Thanks:

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

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