Pathwork Lecture 149: Cosmic Pull Toward Union * Frustration

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Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 149
1996 Edition
January 13, 1967

Greetings, my dearest friends. Be blessed, every one of you. A great stream of divine strength and blessings is permeating you and flows around you as a powerful force. Be aware of this force, attune yourself to it, and you will perceive its reality. With its help, a deep understanding of this lecture will enable you to make another step forward on your path toward finding yourself.

There is a great pull in the manifest universe in which you live. This pull is part of the creative principle. Since every individual consciousness is also part of the same creative principle, is made of the same substance in fact, this pull must exist in every individual. It is directed toward union, as the term is usually used, but the term loses its meaning after a while. What does union really mean? What does union with God, or with the divine self, really mean? What does union with another individual mean? How does this apply to a human being?

First of all, the whole plan of evolution aims at uniting individual consciousnesses, for only in this way can separateness be eliminated. Union as a cerebral process, or with an intangible God, is not really union. Only the actual contact of one individual with another establishes the requisite conditions in the personality for true inner union. Therefore this pull toward unity manifests as a tremendous force, moving individuals toward each other, making separateness painful and empty. The life force therefore consists not only of the pull toward others, but also of pleasure supreme. Life and pleasure are one. Lack of pleasure is the distortion of the life force and comes from opposing the creative principle. Life, pleasure, contact and oneness with others are the goal of the cosmic plan.

The pull toward unity aims to bring you out of seclusion. It moves toward contact and melding. To follow the cosmic pull is therefore blissful; it is exhilarating and, at the same time, peaceful. Individual consciousness opposes this force, however, out of the erroneous idea that giving in to it means annihilation. Thus you put yourself in the paradoxical position of believing that life comes from opposing life. Consequently, you live in a very deep conflict that runs even deeper than the psychological reasons you uncover in the course of self-exploration.

All these reasons are valid in themselves, as far as they go. They may result from negative childhood experiences, from misinterpretations of childhood events, from hurts and fears you have not properly understood and assimilated. All this must be explored in order to meet and face a deeper universal, metaphysical conflict — the one I am discussing. The conflict exists because the pull cannot be eliminated. It is the evolutionary force itself, the reality in all that lives and breathes. It permeates every particle of existence and must thus also exist deep in your psyche, whether or not you are aware of it.

The conflict arises from fear of and opposition to this pull; the personality bucks the natural flow. To the degree that, consciously or unconsciously, you equate the life force with annihilation, you struggle against life itself. This is the most profound reason for your misconceptions, false fears and guilts, negativity and destructiveness. Deep within, you know that you distrust the greatest spiritual force and thus life itself. The distrust creates a deep guilt that often manifests on the surface as unjustified guilts you cannot give up.

The conflict also manifests as a fear of your deepest instincts so that you cannot ever relax and be unguarded about yourself. Since you are part of the life you distrust, you must also distrust your own innermost self. This is why people insist on dividing body and spirit and why the dualistic concept is perpetuated from generation to generation. You seem to find your salvation in this very division because through it you can justify your rejection of the life principle as it manifests within you. You thus stamp that which you fear as wrong and bad, while claiming that the denial of your very nature is right and good. You justify this irrational attitude by pointing to the most distorted manifestations of the life principle, of the pleasure current, as though they were proof of its badness. Thus people have preached through the centuries that the body is sinful, while the spirit is supposed to be the opposite of the body and therefore good.

It is not true that all your difficulties come from these misconceptions, which you embrace as the final spiritual truth. It is closer to the truth that these misconceptions stem from the deep spiritual conflict that motivates you to accuse the great life principle of being the opposite of what it really is.

The misuse of this powerful force by no means proves an acceptance of and trust in it. It is rather a variation on the struggle that ensues when one opposes life with one’s own nature. Part of you moves toward others and accepts your instincts and nature, but another side shrinks back from this movement. Deprivation, emptiness, meaninglessness, and a sense of waste ensue. You may then overcompensate by blindly, rebelliously, misusing your life force. This leads to pleasureless experiences and seems to justify your sense of wrongness and danger. Here is truly a kind of life and death conflict.

This conflict manifests differently in each individual. But one thing can be said with certainty: the greater the conflict between giving in to the cosmic force and opposing it, the greater the extent of your pain and problems.

If you cannot allow yourself to flow freely with the cosmic stream in the deepest level of your being, you must distort the cosmic stream within you. Since you oppose and distrust the cosmic force, and since the cosmic force manifests within yourself, you do not trust yourself. But if you are to trust yourself and your own innermost nature, you must first trust the pull toward unity. Therefore when you separate nature from the divine principle, or your own innermost nature from spiritual trust, you are engaged in the greatest error, leading to the greatest of confusions. For how could nature, including the depth of your own nature, be opposed to the divine evolutionary plan?

It is the counter-pull in this struggle that creates layers which seem to justify your distrust of your instinctual self. Only the courage to explore these layers within yourself will lead you to the truth of your underlying core, which is wholly trustworthy. But this, as I said, can be experienced only when the deep pull of nature, of evolution, of the creative principle, is understood. Although the intellectual understanding is helpful at first, it is less important than the intuitive understanding, for only intuitive understanding will allow you to dissolve this conflict.

The conflict congests the creative force, which is compatible with you and your destiny. Even though you block and oppose the pull, you nevertheless cannot avoid it. It always leads toward contact with others. Strong fear of such contact leads some individuals into temporarily withdrawing. Of course, withdrawal can take many forms: it can manifest in your outer life and behavior, but it can also manifest in a much more subtle form. Outwardly you may engage in contacts but inwardly you remain uninvolved, isolated, separate. This isolation cannot be maintained for long, because ultimately it will become unbearable. Nothing that opposes the life principle can be maintained forever. After all, the life principle represents ultimate reality, and fear of it is based on illusion. Illusion cannot be maintained indefinitely. The anxiety arising out of illusion can be eliminated only when this deep conflict is understood and honored and when you finally allow yourself to harmonize with the creative principle.

Even when the opposition is great, the pull toward contact and melding with another must remain, for that is a fundamental fact of creation. But the counter-pull, with its fear, distrust, and other destructive feelings, must then create negative contact. All human beings experience some counter-pull, even relatively integrated, healthy individuals. But let us take the individuals whose counter-pull is relatively weak and whose predominant personality affirms life and their own deepest instincts, and is therefore relatively free of conflict. Their contact with others will be relatively blissful and unproblematic. Their pleasure principle will create mutuality, genuine love, and pleasure supreme. To the degree that opposition to the cosmic pull creates blocks and throws the cosmic stream off course, negative and painful contact has to ensue. The pleasure principle will be attached to a negative situation, born out of childhood experiences. This makes fulfillment impossible because the experience of pleasure is always threatened by the attached negativity. The individual thus becomes a helpless straw between the two pulls, and is driven into painful contact. Thus the pull toward contact, and the fear of it, which manifests as a pull away from it, are both present. The latter engenders two fundamental defensive reactions: either the desire to hurt or the sense of being hurt which are inevitable byproducts of the contact. Since the pleasure principle always remains an element in the life stream, it then necessarily attaches itself to the distorted form of contact.

The pleasure embodied in the greatest force in human life cannot be eliminated, but where this force is distorted, the pleasure becomes negative. Since contact appears to hurt, pleasure manifests either in hurting or in being hurt, to a greater or lesser degree. The connection between hurt and pleasure engenders a vicious circle. The more painfully the pleasure principle of the cosmic pull manifests, the greater the fear, the guilt, the shame, the anxiety, and the tension. Opposition grows, conflict increases, and the vicious circle continues.

The evolutionary problem for every single conscious being is therefore to deeply comprehend and experience this vicious circle without misjudging the negative connection between contact, pain, and the pleasure principle. You must look beyond it by committing to search with an open attitude for your deepest nature. Do not mistake the negative emotions you first encounter for the ultimate reality of your instinctual life.

The layer of destructiveness, blind selfishness, dishonesty, as well as the shameful attachments of the pleasure principle to negative situations is not your deepest nature. It is merely a demonstration, a result, of this specific conflict, my friends. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough, for when you distrust your innermost nature, you distrust the whole spiritual universe. One cannot exist without the other.

A point comes on the path toward liberation when the problem must be tackled from both ends: Only when you have the courage and honesty to face what you do not like in yourself can you discover that the very energy and substance of these attitudes is essentially constructive and trustworthy. This realization can convert them. Consequently, life’s processes will become trustworthy and need no longer be opposed. Conversely, when you consider the possibility that the entire creative process is trustworthy, you will develop the courage and honesty to transcend the blocks that deform creative energy and divine substance and reconvert them into creativity.

It is impossible to trust God, to trust life, to trust nature, if one distrusts one’s own deepest instincts. For where do these instincts come from? These instincts cannot be crushed, neither can they be denied, uprooted, or forcefully supplanted by foreign elements that seem more palatable to the fearful soul. The only way out is to understand that the innermost instincts are good if they are not interfered with; they are part of the most divine power and not in the least hostile to spiritual growth. This is one of the most tragic errors of humanity, because nothing delays the evolutionary plan as much as this misconception, held by well-meaning and otherwise quite enlightened individuals. These instincts will prove themselves as bearers of light when they are not misjudged, denied, and split off from their divine origin in an artificial duality that presupposes they are evil and regards them as the opposites of divine life, or spiritual life.

So you can come into your own only when you understand this and consequently cease to fear and fight against yourself, your instincts, your body, your nature — and against nature as such. This is the great struggle of humanity and once it is generally understood by all spiritual leaders, individual struggle will be helped considerably. Not knowing this, continuing the blind involvement of the struggle, makes you incapable of relinquishing your separateness. You thus bar yourself from completing your spiritual destiny. You prevent yourself from making peace with your innermost physical and emotional instincts. The peace between body and soul is an inevitable product of self-realization. It is erroneous to believe that the body can simply be left aside in the great venture of integration. When the body is shed before integration has taken place, the integration remains incomplete.

This conflict is so deep and universal that often the most enlightened, evolved, and otherwise unprejudiced individuals become uneasy when they meet it in themselves. Even if they do not conform to small-minded and life-denying views, the deep inner anxiety stemming from this conflict induces them to blind themselves to what goes on within. Whenever your courage falters in facing the conflict, as it manifests nakedly deep in the recesses of the self, you remain isolated to some extent. You remain involved in painful negativity and split within yourself, until your further evolution brings you to the point where you no longer fear the great stream of which you are a part and which is part of you, leading you toward others and dissolving the wall of separateness and defense. You will then find that not only do you not lose your individuality, but, quite the contrary: you expand and become more yourself.

Now I would like to discuss a feature of the human personality that seems relatively insignificant, merely psychological, yet it has a deep meaning and connection with the pull toward union, which I will point out later. The feature I want to talk about is frustration. Like all human attitudes, frustration can easily be distorted into two opposites, both equally destructive. Everyone knows that the inability to tolerate frustration constitutes a severe personality disturbance and impairs one’s character. When frustration is not handled properly, it inflicts pain on the self and on others. The traits that impede coping with frustration are greed, self-centeredness, blindness, and fear. The person who believes himself enlightened without really being so, falsely postulates resignation, martyrdom, and abstinence in order to avoid revealing the negative traits. He thinks that in this way he can learn the great, important attitude of inner relaxation.

It is by no means true that the only alternatives are intense insistence, rigid demands, or renunciation of happiness and fulfillment. Both extremes are equally erroneous, leading to very similar results and stemming from the same underlying problem. The wrong attitude about frustration is harmful for obvious reasons. It impairs relationships, self-respect, and inner peace.

I shall now discuss frustration as it relates to the pleasure principle. The infant, striving for its pleasure, is in its blindness incapable of tolerating frustration because it ignores future possibilities. When the psyche fails to mature, the same attitude continues, and an apparent contradiction ensues: the less one can endure frustration, the less one experiences the pleasure. Rigidly insistent people lose the pleasure they strive for, either because their very striving makes attainment impossible, or, even when they succeed, their inner state makes enjoyment impossible. Such people cannot win. For real pleasure to be felt, a relaxed inner state is necessary. A flexible inner climate must prevail, producing a life-affirming, positive, inclusive attitude. The person who, inwardly or outwardly, rebels against postponed gratification is angry, exclusive, negative, tense, and stubborn. All these traits defeat the life principle and the pleasure stream. It is human error to assume that what you want is more important and pleasure-producing than your state of mind.

When you misunderstand the importance of tolerating frustration, distorted responses, such as martyrdom, abstinence, and resignation are adopted in a so-called spiritual guise, and render pleasure impossible. Instead, feelings of hopelessness and waste set in. Since pleasure is a byproduct of the cosmic stream it cannot possibly be considered unimportant. But the other distorted response to frustration, insistence and rigidity with a “do or die” attitude, are equally erroneous.

Only when individuals learn to let go, to allow the self to postpone having its own way right now without renouncing fulfillment, then, and only then, is the necessary climate established to let the cosmic flow stream forth. In other words, everyone has to seek the inner experience of letting go and relaxing. This does not mean relinquishing forever, but relaxing into pleasure through the power of gentle letting go. My words will sound obscure or even contradictory if you have never experienced this feeling. But those of you who have occasionally had an inkling of it will grasp the power of what I am saying and will use this information consciously and deliberately.

Such a gentle letting go applies to anything, on all levels of existence. It may apply to any little or big wish, any fulfillment you desire. If you feel inwardly tense and are unwilling to relax into an attitude of wise, positive reasonableness and humility, without ceasing to seek complete fulfillment, you separate yourself from feeling good. But often the temptation to remain in the tense state is great, for anger and self-pity offer a substitute gratification. The ego must make its most constructive inner effort to let go of this. A tiny point of effort is often all you need. The rest follows by itself, and the ego is carried by the inner forces activated in the process. Once the tension is abandoned, pleasure follows. The flexibility of relaxing into what is, even if what is at the moment is not what you want, must ultimately bring you what you want — first, by giving you a good feeling about yourself and by putting you in harmony with the cosmic movement within your psyche. Later, the thing you want will also come; it must come, as a matter of course, according to the law of cause and effect.

This climate is essential to establish the inner knowledge that all fulfillment is potentially yours and can actually be yours through your knowing this. But only when you know this in an atmosphere of letting go, of relaxation, can your wishes materialize. When you are in a state of “I must have it,” they cannot materialize. The tension itself is hostile to the necessary harmony that has the potential for fulfillment.

These ideas are not easy to grasp when you first hear them. They will require not only study but seeing how you yourself are inwardly tense about not getting your way. Or, perhaps, you have embraced the opposite extreme: resignation. It is simply the reverse of the same coin. When you see either or both of these attitudes fluctuating, then you can proceed to reach for the experience of letting go, relaxing into the pleasure of letting go. Little by little, you will remove the blocks that constrict you.

The topic of frustration is directly linked with our first topic. When you block the stream of the creative principle, which brings you into the pleasure supreme of giving up separateness, you frustrate yourself on the most important level of life. If this were not so, you would not ever have to fear frustration, unfulfillment, or emptiness. Since you fear and block the fulfillment of the cosmic stream, you must inevitably experience the fear of nonfulfillment. Inability to tolerate frustration actually results from the fear of nonfulfillment. Fear of nonfulfillment exists in precise proportion to your resistance to fulfillment. These connections are immeasurably important.

They apply to everything in your life; primarily to the great issue of cosmic union with another person, of trusting and following one’s own deep instincts and consequently experiencing the highest state of bliss. They also apply to mental issues and to everyday accomplishments. The often experienced fear of failure results from fearing success. Success seems as vaguely dangerous as any other kind of happiness. Fear of the smaller happinesses is a minor manifestation of the fear of the major happiness. When individuals fear fulfillment, they block it, so they will justifiably fear nonfulfillment. Consequently, they cannot endure the emptiness, and they struggle against any frustration. The adamant demand for instant gratification says, “I want to be happy and feel good without having to trust and give over to the universe.” This is, of course, utterly impossible.

Frustration would not be an issue if the cosmic flow were understood and accepted and one’s own innermost nature were not feared and resisted. Try, my friends, to feel these things in your personal life and work with them.

Now, are there any questions regarding this topic?

QUESTION: I don’t quite understand. What is this inner pull you are talking about?

ANSWER: It is a pull toward another individual, toward an expression of your instincts, toward an integration of the instincts with your conscious mind, your concepts, and your acceptance of life, of self, and of others.

QUESTION: You discussed the cosmic pull that becomes negative in the individual at a certain period of his development. Could you explain this further?

ANSWER: When people oppose their cosmic pull and struggle against it, conflict arises. The cosmic pull always remains stronger than the counter-pull, since it is a primary force, while the struggle against it is secondary and superimposed. So you are still pulled toward contact. But your counter-pull denies the primary force, so the negation combines with the original force, and negative contact ensues. The actual contact taking place expresses the pull toward others; the pain arising from it expresses the counter-pull. To the degree you fear the cosmic pull and its destiny, love — which can grow only in a climate of fearlessness — must be absent from the contact. The fear produces defenses, hurts, anger — all these enter the contact and combine with the pleasure principle.

This may manifest on any level of the personality. Negative contact manifesting in the desire to hurt expresses itself in quarrelsomeness, hostility, aggression. On the sexual level, such an individual is sadistic. Negative contact that manifests in being hurt, expresses itself in a tendency to be taken advantage of; you will always manage to put yourself at a disadvantage; you will be driven into damaging behavior patterns. On the sexual level, such an individual is masochistic. Now, of course, no one is simply one or the other; both elements are always represented in a personality, but only one of them may predominate on the surface. For example, just because you fear your cruelty, your need to derive pleasure from hurting others, you may reverse it and direct it against yourself. Since all this takes place on a blind, unconscious level, you do not know what you are doing; you do not know how you are driven, so you are unable to stop the destructive process.

This lecture aims to help you understand that your psychological makeup has a much deeper origin than usually assumed. This deeper origin is the profound, metaphysical conflict in all human beings. When this is perceived and experienced it is much easier to eliminate the psychological distortions that appear to have originated in this life. On the other hand, it must also be realized that the cosmic struggle cannot become even vaguely conscious unless you gain considerable insight into and awareness of your unconscious.

I have given you a topic with which you can again, if you choose to do so, make a deep inroad into your innermost self. Use it, explore it; do not fear your innermost self. Running away from your innermost self is tragic because you inflict upon yourself so much unnecessary pain. Nothing else can ever create as much pain as running away from the self. You have nothing to fear, nothing whatever. Always look deep into yourself, without defensiveness, without anxiety. And the more you look into yourself, the more equipped you will be to establish contact with others. The more you run away from yourself, the more superficial, troublesome, or unsatisfactory such contact must be.

Be in peace, my friends, be blessed, be in God!

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