Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 167
November 8, 1968
Greetings, all my friends — those whom I know well and those who are new here. Blessings for everyone. May the strength of love and truth, as it is coming forth here, help you wherever you are on your path. If you have not yet made a deliberate decision to develop and to find your true self, so that your life can be what it is meant to be, these words may help you toward such a vital inner decision.
This lecture continues to address where most of my friends are now on their path. The progress so many of you have made is a tremendously joyful event. For the first time you gain personal experience of this path as a reality that leads truly to bliss. For the first time you experience that the key to every conceivable possibility of happiness lies within you — that you harbor the richest treasure, life in its essence. For quite a few of you, what you know in theory is now a felt reality. You have experienced your own inner life center — the goal of all pathwork. You have thus seen what a world of difference there is between intellectually knowing about something and emotionally experiencing it.
People often set out with the wrong expectation. They believe that when they come in touch with the spiritual self, they will suddenly be transformed into a different kind of human being. In fact, much fruitless and painful striving goes into this wrong direction and makes the path so much longer and unnecessarily painful. The words have been said, but people seem unable to hear and understand that you must accept yourself and experience yourself as you are now, even if it means to go through pain, fear, anger. The experience of who you are now cannot be avoided. Only by learning to do this can you come to your life center. By the very act of self-acceptance, the unwelcome emotions and attitudes gradually dissolve. Even before that happens, all strife ends when you accept yourself.
By the unpronounced but nevertheless distinct expectation that you must first be different, so that you can avoid going through the unwelcome feelings, you put obstacles in the way. Those of you who have had the wonderful experience of contact with your life center now know that it is precisely by accepting the negative emotions that you dissolve them. Even while you still have your negative feelings, you simultaneously begin to experience an aliveness that you have never tasted before. This is truly a wonderful, encouraging, and strengthening experience, after which you can never be the same as before.
Why is it that you cannot feel the life center in yourself? Why do you have to grope so ardently to experience something so deep within you? Why is it concealed from you for so long? Why can you find it only indirectly? The reason is that you have anesthetized what once was a shock to you. As you now know, the greatest distress a human being can experience is not hurt — it is lack of feeling, inner deadness. The deadness was originally meant to be a protection against the pain, fear, and discomfort with which the individual was unable to cope. At a time when one is very young, self-numbing may indeed be a temporary solution. For an immature mind unequipped to comprehend and handle certain emotional experiences realistically, temporary anesthesia is needed to survive. But if it becomes a habit, it is extremely harmful.
When something alive is deadened, all experience stops. This deadness creates the hopelessness all human beings suffer from to some degree. It may be quite conscious, or it may be concealed from awareness. It is without a doubt the greatest cross to bear.
As I said, numbness dulls pain and fear. But in doing so, it dulls life itself. It makes immobile what is supposed to move. The phenomenon of dying in the physical, material world is an expression of many inner attitudes. One of the most important is the desire not to move. This can be verified by many people. It expresses itself in your awareness as laziness, inertia, apathy, even as not wanting to do things or move your body, mind, and feelings. You do not want to venture forth into life, into experience, the wrong attitude creates deadness in you and therefore, ultimately, the phenomenon of physical dying. One’s will and attitude cause all outer happenings; so it is with the universal earth phenomenon of physical dying. Dying is a direct result of wanting to be unfeeling, hence dead, hence nonmoving.
When the life center is deadened, the desire to move dies as well. You can see for yourself that as people grow older, their desire to move diminishes. This is usually explained away by saying, “Well, this is a natural phenomenon of aging” — another reversal of cause and effect. Aging itself is a process of dying, and it is a manifestation and effect rather than a cause. Dying is a result of not quite wanting to live, of rejecting aspects of living, such as feeling, breathing, moving. If and when an entity reaches the point of totally embracing and accepting all aspects of life, dying will no longer be. Anyone who suffers from the fear of death should try to understand these words on a deep level. Discover in yourself where you desire not to be alive, not to move or feel. When you connect with your own rejection of life, you will no longer feel helpless in the fear of death. Something will change about it.
You can also observe that those human beings who stay young long do not lose the desire to move. It is wrong to state that they do not lose the desire to move because they stay young for a long time. Rather, they remain young because they continue to want to move. The person who does not want to move must understand why.
The fear of moving can be ascertained relatively easily. Once you stop explaining things away, confronting yourself with simple questions in this respect and answering them, you will be easily aware of your fear of moving. You may first feel it simply as a simple desire to be immobile, which is really no pleasure at all. To be alive and moving is pleasure. When you discover your fear of moving, your distaste for it, your reluctance or resistance — physically as well as mentally and emotionally — you have discovered the cause of living in a sphere of consciousness where death is inevitable. You hasten death to the degree you refute movement on all levels of your being. Movement is refuted because movement awakens the deadness. When the life center is feared because pain and fear cannot be dealt with, numbness is supposed to be the solution. And movement removes the numbness — therefore you reject movement, not knowing that nonmovement is the beginning of the dying process.
Those of you who have come in contact lately — many of you for the first time — with a heretofore deadened life center, know the tremendous experience this is. Yes, you first experience pain or whatever other emotion it may be to begin with. But as you learn to accept it you also discover the enormous difference between pain and pain, between fear and fear, between anger and anger. It is the difference between an accepted emotion and a rejected one. The accepted feeling is not half as painful nor as filled with anguish. It never produces anxiety, tension, hopelessness, bitterness, or torment. It never puts you into a trap from which there is no way out. It never closes life. Even while you experience the pain, wonderful pulsating life bubbles up in you, and the joy is right behind the pain, with the outlook of limitless possibilities. Accepted pain is not frightening, confusing, or conflicting; it is enlivening. As you dare to accept your feeling, whatever it may be, and go deeper, it transforms itself. While the pain is still there, you, at the same time, feel yourself immensely alive, beautifully alive. Little by little the pain makes room for pleasure. Safety, hope, new experience — they are all available, but only through what already exists in you.
Striving away from unwelcome feelings leads into more strife. If you expect the pathwork to eliminate unwelcome feelings before you have fully experienced and understood them, you create a bottleneck. The pathwork teaches you how to accept our unwelcome feelings, not how to get out of them before you have ever been in them. That is the great misunderstanding, which is difficult to avoid, no matter how many times you hear these words. Light, bliss, vital inner movement can come only when your goal is to enter into the feelings you have always wished to avoid. Your own treasure of warm, eternal, moving life is revealed to you only in this way, never otherwise.
Once you have revived your frozen life center, it will never be quite so difficult to accomplish this again. But the onetime experience will not remain. Your conditioned reflexes are too deeply ingrained. The old fear will come back — perhaps not consciously at all, for consciously you may be full of goodwill and joy. Once you have tasted it, you will surely find it folly not to remain in this state of being. But something else in you is bound by habit patterns and does not know yet how else to react. Therefore, something in you again shrinks from living, especially when faced with the threat of new painful experience or disappointment. This shrinking from the life process numbs you again, so you must start all over. But as I said, the more often you open up to life, the easier it is to do so again and the more strength the ego will have to do its part, to commit itself in full consciousness to life in all its aspects.
When you see the automatic reflexes, you must also accept that here are processes you cannot control by direct will. They work indirectly — the closing as well as the opening. You do not simply decide to open up now. It seems to happen to you suddenly, when you least expect it. It is nevertheless an indirect result of your searching, your will, your commitment to the process of self-realization, your honesty in seeing and facing the truth, your goodwill to change and give up dishonest patterns. All these efforts and attitudes bring a result — but the result seems to have nothing to do with them. The beautiful experience seems to be gratuitous. It seems the same with the opposite process of closing up. You may be open, pulsating, alive, and full of joy about the new condition. Suddenly, without understanding why, you find yourself back in the old state of numbness. Here, too, indirect processes are at work. Some fear, some defense, some inner shrinking has taken place unconsciously. Your work requires that you connect with these unconscious processes little by little. That will happen when you learn to interpret and heed your outer symbols, the indirect signs and manifestations of your unconscious processes. Do not be discouraged and feel lost because you do not yet see the cause and effect of your sudden openings and closings. This concentrated aspect of self-analysis develops gradually.
The predominant emotions that you shrink from and numb yourself against are pain and fear, as well as the anger and rage that develop as a consequence. Your nonacceptance of these feelings creates the process of dividing yourself. Any rejection of what one feels and experiences creates self-division and inner fighting against the self. One side is dead, the other is alive. The life process wants more life, with all the good it contains. For life is truth and love, experience and pleasure, movement and unfoldment, new adventure and new horizons of being. Life means increasing one’s potentials as a cocreator in the universe. It means finding the indwelling creative powers. All this, and more, is the life process that wants to perpetuate itself. It requires and results from a full acceptance of whatever is.
Those of you who have recently awakened your life center have experienced the different kinds of pain. The pain that is rejected is bitter and disquieting and hopeless. The pain that is accepted is quite different, very near to an opening, pleasurable experience. Accepting the negativity of life makes the negativity eventually superfluous. Rejecting the negative experience binds you to it for as long as you keep on fighting it.
Let us take the simple experience of fear. If you shrink from fear and deaden yourself in order not to experience it, you become unconsciously enslaved to it. On the conscious level this will surface in any number of projected fears, which have nothing to do with what you really fear. When I speak of not rejecting your negative feelings, I do not mean that you are expected to welcome pain. What I mean is that negative experience ceases only when you do not shrink from it, but instead open up to whatever comes your way. For you attract it and are bound to it by being always in a state of battle. Shrinking from it, you fight against it in an ineffectual way. Fighting against anything in life, you also fight against something in yourself.
There is, of course, a healthy way of fighting for something, which is entirely different from fighting against something. The former occurs out of strength and the positive consciousness of reaching for good experience. The latter occurs out of fear and weakness and cringes from experience. By fighting against the undesirable experience, you deaden an integral part of life — something that feels. When you deaden something that feels — even if it be negative now — you eliminate the possibility of feeling something positive in that area of yourself. The side that is dead misses out, cannot experience, and the life side must fight against this frustration. Any kind of numbing process, any attempt to deny a genuine inner experience, inevitably produces inner fight and self-division.
When you fear hurt, disappointment, frustration, you fear experience per se. If you fear experience, you must guard against it in one way or another. On the conscious level you may not be aware of this. In fact, you may believe that you are open and ready for the good experience, if not for the painful one. But if you fear the painful experience, you are defensive, unspontaneous, and thus walled off from any kind of experience. You will be unable to fully feel love, companionship, and intimacy. They are, at best, dulled — and often mere abstractions of the mind. Nothing renders the individual so insecure and inadequate as the incapacity for love and intimacy. Nothing is so disquieting and hopeless. If you wonder about your capacity to experience deep, warm feelings of love, find how you defend yourself against any negative feeling and experience. There you will have the key.
It becomes obvious that fear of emotional experience breeds frustration, discontent and emptiness which, in turn, gives rise to the battle against one’s own inner processes. By instituting death processes and shrinking from experience you divide yourself.
Any outer strife in your earth sphere is nothing but a symbolic representation, an outpicturing, of the self-division in all human beings. The self-division is not only the real cause of injustice, conflict, warfare, and all the malconditions you can possibly think of; it is also the most painful experience within the individual person. In a state of constant inner tension, you pull simultaneously in opposite directions — on the one hand, into life; on the other, into a rejection of and defense against life. In turn, you fight against the inevitable frustration that results from these divided motivations. Here you have a good illustration of the process: fighting such a frustration blindly and destructively cannot eliminate its cause. Yet on the surface, it is understandable to say, “Why should I accept such a frustrating life?” Only by accepting the frustration can you understand it and eliminate its cause. Only going through the experience of the frustration can bring to the surface the emotions that cause it: the fear of disappointment and pain which numbs the feelings, which in turn creates frustration.
Again I want to emphasize for the benefit of the new friends here: When I speak of accepting negative emotions, I do not mean masochistic, self-denying, morbid attitudes toward negative experience. You are not required to welcome it. I refer to a much more subtle level in your feelings. Do not morbidly dwell on a negative emotion, but do not shrink in fear from it either. You should say, “Yes, here it is. I let it be. I do not fight against it or reject it. I want to truly dissolve it by letting it be. I see what happens and let it dissolve itself.” This attitude has nothing to do with morbid wallowing.
When you come to the traumatic experience that has created the numbing experience in this lifetime — which always happens in early childhood — it is often impossible to reconstruct it directly, for no mental memory of it suffices, even if it does exist. It is possible and necessary, though, to reconstruct the emotional experience by comprehending the problematic reactions that you have in your present life. Once you do not avoid experiencing these problematic emotions right now, you will recognize them as repetitions of early experience, and, sooner or later on the path, discover that your current problematic reactions reveal the original trauma. You then are bound to discover where, how, and why you numb yourself against some kind of pain: it is the constant fear of pain that adds up to a sort of shock reaction. A child responds to a protracted painful situation or a subtle emotional climate with an intense shrinking and numbing defense. This is a shock reaction. You will see, with your new awareness, your soul movements, when this shock reaction is recreated in your present-day reactions. Starting from there you will gradually learn to institute new, different reactions and soul movements. Instead of shrinking from the feared pain and thereby creating harmful, life-defeating attitudes, you will learn to cope with it in a new way.
If you imagine a human being going through life physically half anesthetized, what would such a life be? It would be dull, with limited experiences and a low degree of awareness. This is literally what human beings do constantly in their spiritual and emotional lives. Inner anesthesia eventually affects the capacity to feel in the body; thus when the process continues for a length of time, it affects all levels of being.
The anesthesia must be undone. As what is deadened thaws out, you are bound to experience pain — the pain you once froze. The pain cannot heal unless you are courageous enough to feel it without exaggerating its intensity — which is a painkiller in itself. If you accept its real nature without denying or aggrandizing it, it will soon diminish and disappear. This is altogether different from repression: the latter binds vital life energy, whereas the former frees it for joyful, pleasurable experience and strength. This new approach requires a calm “listening in” attitude. Observe it rather than control it. Let it be. The more you inwardly tense up against pain, the more unbearable it becomes. The more you relax toward it, the less severe it will be. By fearing the pain, you shrink from and reject it. You then fear the fear and numb your fear, as well as the fear of it. Thus you alienate yourself further and further from where you are alive. What I suggest here is indeed a new way, a new approach, to deal with what was once afflicted. This way of dealing with pain is not illusory wishful thinking. It is the most real attitude a human being can adopt. With it your split soul will reunite.
Again, this process cannot be adopted all at once, therefore the deadening process cannot be stopped all at once either. The death process will be eliminated gradually. Eventually you will come out of the cycle where you constantly fear death because you court it, and fear pain because you do not encounter it in a meaningful, effective way.
Those of my friends who find themselves in this stage on the path, where they have, perhaps for the first time, felt the life of their inner center and perhaps also felt it close up again, must continue with renewed vigor. This time, however, prepare yourselves — first in your mind and little by little in the deeper realms of your emotional being. Meet the pain with a new attitude; feel into yourself and observe your shrinking. As you observe your automatic shrinking and tensing up, the shrinking will lessen. The frozenness will diminish. Your very awareness of what you do inwardly will lessen the intensity and the compulsive drive to perpetuate it. Life can bring you only what you have perpetuated. When you no longer reject pain, fear, and negativity, when you deal with them in a relaxed, real, and unifying manner, you will truly have outgrown them. All of you on the path, who have experienced the enlivening beauty of being real even as you are in pain, will make the pain a deeper and eventually joyful experience by no longer rejecting it.
Now, are there any questions, my friends?
QUESTION: The conflicts you speak of… doesn’t all movement come from conflict?
ANSWER: No, movement does not come from conflict. On the contrary, movement is life. Wherever there is life, there is movement. If there is no movement there is no life. When conflict increases, eventually movement first diminishes and then stops. The totally integrated and self-realized entity — who is, of course, way beyond this dualistic earth sphere — is in perpetual, joyful movement. The dualism of conflict is the exact result of the denial of movement. The dualism here is not only life versus death, but movement versus nonmovement. Although the healthy personality accepts death as one of the phenomena of this state of consciousness, the time comes in the evolution of a being when the dying process no longer exists and there is only life, forever unfolding movement.
QUESTION: About the point where anesthetizing began… I feel somehow…well, it seems that in the cycle of life, abandonment plays a big role. You are abandoned by your parents. Then, in your turn, you abandon life when you die. I am very involved with abandonment.
ANSWER: Wherever the inner shock reaction has frozen the life center, this must be experienced. With you, the emphasis is on abandonment. Each human being has a specific point that is the trauma. The shock reaction in the soul may in one case exist in the feeling of not being loved; in another, in the fear of being left alone; in still another, in the negation of personal value. There are many variations of this experience. Each of you must find the particular emphasis that triggered off most strongly your soul’s shock reaction. In the last analysis it is always the fear of pain, and the pain of not being loved and protected, warmed and accepted. The conditions are different for each individual and therefore the personal, specific way varies. In your case, abandonment is the key, as it were. Therefore, you must learn to transcend the fear of being abandoned, to no longer shrink from the feeling of, “I am being abandoned. Here is the experience.” The words are of course too limited to adequately describe the inner attitude necessary to change the dynamics of soul movements, but if you try to listen with your inner antennae, you will know what I mean.
You have been threatened by abandonment every day since your childhood. Until recently you have denied and ignored this fear. Now you begin to be conscious of it. Go through it. When you see the phantom of abandonment, you must observe your inner reactions to it. No mental process, no conceptualizing can help you transcend this fear. Rather, you have to first see what “it does” in you, which states more correctly the process than what “you do.” It is nothing you do volitionally in a direct way. Something does it in you when abandonment threatens you, and it cramps up in you. As you observe this, you already gain a different and healing perspective. You can then see yourself cramping up, numbing yourself, denying the experience of abandonment. As you see yourself doing this, you know that in this denial you increase the fear. You make the experience inevitable. You constantly live in the shadow of it, because of this inner way of handling it.
Now you may be able to experiment with the new way and say, “All right, I shall try. I would like to react differently; instead of tensing up against it and freezing myself, I will endure what I feel. I will stop fighting against emotions that are vital life energy and that can be used in a more constructive way.” As you do this, you will first truly experience the pain of abandonment, even if only the threat of it is being repeated. As you experience it in this way, the threat is already much less painful. As you do this, some new strength will begin to gather in you, you will suddenly see different ways of avoiding abandonment. A new initiative will reveal itself to you quite naturally. A new and productive way of fighting for love and closeness will come to you — no longer a cramping and shrinking, bit a relaxed activity that leads to fulfillment. The old way is freezing the life energies in order not to feel, which creates weak dependency and prevents finding the resources for meaningful action. The defensive attitude cripples vitality and joy and exudes negating attitudes that are bound to bring the very thing one fears most — in your case, abandonment.
My friends, to make the deadness alive, you must first feel it in you. You have means at your disposal to bring it to life again. For there is a live part in you in which you can will, overcome, act. There is still something that enables you to come here, listen, and work on the path. You can decide whether or not you want to be fully alive and feeling and thereby come to experience the best that life is, the best that you are. Be life, be God, for that is who you truly are.
To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.