Capacity to Wish—Health and Unhealthy Motives in Desire

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 56 | September 25, 1959

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Greetings, God bless all of you, my dearest friends, blessed is this hour.

The creative life force or principle is all around you. It is all-powerful and all-good. If you could but tune in on it, you on this earth plane could enjoy perfect happiness in every possible respect. For the creative life force does not wish you anything but good — if I may put it this way. It is ready to give you joy, strength, vitality, and happiness. As far as the universe is concerned, there need be no hardship or unhappiness.

I would like to discuss tonight the prerequisites that enable you to tune in on this force, and the conditions that keep you away from it. One of these is the capacity to wish. Whenever your capacity to wish is hindered, consciously or unconsciously, fulfillment cannot come to you. You may desire this particular fulfillment with all your might, with all your outer will, yet some unconscious factors within work against the fulfillment of this wish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You see, my friends, nothing needs to stand in your way to complete fulfillment, but the deviations and self-deceptions do. If you could but clear that up, you could tune in on the great, invigorating cosmic force at your disposal. It is all around you and within you. It exists impersonally, as do all spiritual laws. The person who can tune into it can have access to it and benefit from it. Those who have not found the means, the currents and the switches in themselves which would enable them to tune in, will pass by this force without being able to be affected by it.

Can you see the implications of this?  If you could truly understand what I am saying, you would realize that these impersonal laws are kind and completely good. It is no unkindness that it is left to your own free will to seek contact with them or to stagnate, remaining in the old blindness.

I have shown you again how important it is to know yourself in the deepest regions of your being. Superficial knowledge is not enough. Yes, there is also personal spiritual help, such as we are allowed to give. It is for all those who truly manifest a desire to grow and change. They receive the personal help without which they cannot attain the necessary tools to remove that which stands in their way. With this personal help, they will one day be capable to partake of the impersonal benign forces available to all beings in the universe. Cosmic principles, forces, and laws exist impersonally for all alike. If you would but realize the significance of this, the terrible God-image people generally have would automatically vanish.

Whenever you are in a difficult situation, in hopelessness and longing, in despair and depression, as long as a false God-image exists in you, you keep blaming God, perhaps unconsciously. You believe that somehow it was He who has punished you. Or you think, at best, that He has considered it necessary as a test for you. This is only partly true. You can say a hardship is a test in the sense that your errors can be your medicine if you have the proper attitude toward life and want self-responsibility. Otherwise, hardship will not even be a test. One day, however, you will come to the point when you begin to search for the answer within yourself and not outwardly. Then your past experience will take on new meaning. It will become retroactive medicine, and in this way, a test. But it will not be medicine until you reach the point of complete understanding of what self-responsibility means.

There is so much misunderstanding about self-responsibility. We always struggle to save you from your misunderstandings. We have to try to prevent a truth from being used by your unconscious, immature, and unhealthy reactions. For if you use it so it will no longer be a truth. In the case of self-responsibility, such distortion can happen by associating this concept with unhealthy self-blame, guilt, and inferiority feelings. In other words, the opposite happens of what should happen. You might use the word self-responsibility to nourish your guilt and your inferiority feelings. You might say to yourself, “Since I am responsible for myself, I am even more guilty.”  This is most destructive; it is very wrong, my friends. It is a complete misunderstanding.

I know this may sound contradictory and confusing to some of you. But those who have followed me so far will know the subtle and fine difference. Declaring yourself responsible for your life and seeking the remedy for past erroneous attitudes and concepts is an utterly constructive and strengthening activity. But feeling that because you are responsible for your life you are all the more guilty and inferior, and therefore becoming more hopeless than ever, is destructive and weakening.

My dear friends, let these words give you renewed incentive and understanding. Although you will certainly not be able to tune in on the great universal force in all aspects of your life right away, slowly and gradually, little by little, you will begin to eliminate that which prevents you from connecting with it. You will approach the necessary contact to partake of this wonderful force, so that you will be inside it, instead of outside.

You will not experience this as a sudden change. But as many of you will confirm, you approach the life force and invigoration by the mere fact of being utterly honest with yourself in a constructive way. Most of you have experienced this occasionally. You know what a wonderful feeling it is. The greater the resistance you have to face from the material which is ready to come to the surface, the greater your relief will be when it finally surfaces. Although you will have to say to yourself, “Yes, these motives or attitudes are wrong,” in further honesty you will know that you are as yet incapable of feeling differently. But this self-honesty will give you strength, security, and self-respect. It requires not only the honesty to see that there are wrong motives and attitudes in you, but also the additional honesty of knowing that you cannot change them at once. This is the most constructive inner action you can possibly adopt.

After you have made a recognition of importance, beware of the attitude of believing that you can immediately change your emotions simply because now you can see and evaluate them clearly. Have the further honesty and wisdom to realize that growth occurs slowly. Use and cherish the recognition and wait for your emotions to mature. By “using and cherishing” your findings I mean not letting them slip back into hiding, for then the work has to be done all over again. It may then be easier than for the first time, but it is still a waste of time that can be avoided if you remain aware of your findings without haste or pressure, simply cultivating the awareness. You need this constant reminder because discoveries slip out of awareness so fast.

Neither should you imagine that you can jump over the period of growth by forcing your emotions and being impatient with yourself. Remain aware of your recognitions and use them in your daily observation of your reactions. Be aware that they cannot change at once. Growth occurs through self-observation from different angles. If you can follow this through, becoming aware of imperfect reactions or selfish emotions will not depress you.

I assure you that if a negative recognition about yourself depresses you, there must be something wrong in your attitude. Then bring the problem to me or to your image sessions. The emphasis will then have to be shifted from the significance of the recognition itself to your attitude to negative findings in yourself. I repeat, if you have the proper attitude, the more “disadvantageous” the recognition, the more relief and liberation it will cause you. If this does not happen, you have to look into the reason why not and find out where and how your attitude is faulty. In this search you may find chain reactions which, at first, can seem to lead you away from the original subject. But it is of the utmost importance to discover and face them. When this obstacle is cleared up, recognitions about your lower nature will become a joyful event.

Now just one more word of advice concerning your work in self-search. Many of you believe that to find yourself, to explore the unconscious, you have to dig for knowledge so completely out of reach that you do not know where to begin to look for anything. This may leave you at a loss. Also, you expect to find something staggering. Yes, this may happen once in a while, although in a slightly different way than you think.

Do not approach the search with the idea of finding something you have had no inkling of. The task is much simpler than that. You will find the answers by observing your everyday reactions and emotions in the most mundane matters. You are so conditioned not to pay any attention to how you react to people, or how you feel in certain situations of your life, that much passes you by that could be of the greatest value in your work. Learn instead to investigate these reactions, and ask yourself what they mean and what further significance they may have. What do they imply?  What lies behind the emotions you register in the most casual incidents of your life?  What is the emotion you register first and what is behind it?  You are not expected to look for something far away and deeply hidden. This will come too, but begin with that which actually is on the surface and not at all unconscious. You merely did not pay any attention to it so far. Begin to pay attention to it now. From there on, you will gradually proceed to what is hidden on deeper levels. The exploration of the unconscious happens just as gradually as growth. It is no sudden plunge.

And now, my friends, I am ready for your questions.

QUESTION:  I wondered if you could explain about the different new movements that claim that a shortcut is possible to partake of the Life Force by simply exchanging a truth for an untruth.

ANSWER:  Unfortunately, it is not as simple as all that, for the human personality is a very involved and complicated machinery, if I may use this word. If it were merely a question of substituting a truth for an untruth, that would be fine. But do you realize what truth is at all times?  You have to find truth. And before you can find the great universal truth, you have to find your own truth. That is the only way you can get to universal truth. You cannot get it outwardly by learning things, or by performing certain rites, or whatever it may be. You can only get it by looking at and into yourself. And I hardly need to say — you will all readily agree with me — that it is not an easy matter to find your own truth, your distorted and temporary “truth.”  What may appear true to you today — and it may even be true on a certain level as a half-truth or a quarter-truth — may no longer hold true tomorrow, when you have gained additional knowledge, not only generally speaking, but also about yourself. Only after you have removed all the layers of falsity and half-truth, of distortion and confusion, can the great Universal Truth, as well as the Life Force have access to your soul.

I do not say that many of these new movements do not bring some good. I will now explain when such shortcut methods are successful. No human being is in untruth and deviation or imperfection in all areas of his personality. Complete imperfection in a human being exists no more than complete perfection. This earth plane incarnates only those in whom there is a mixture. You all have some healthy elements in you. If a person joins a movement such as you describe and learns certain practices, in areas where he was healthy anyway and where he may just need a little “outer push,” he will respond. But he cannot respond where his problems lie in uncleared areas. There is no shortcut. I would say that this path is a shortcut. It is the shortest “cut” there is!  Time is relative. The years you need to learn to know yourself and gain a firm stronghold on life count as very little time indeed.

The movements you describe may have their good points and their truths. They may also be beneficial in waking people up to wider awareness. They may also be helpful wherever people have a healthy element within to begin with, which for lack of incentive and because of intellectual ignorance could not unfold. But where deviations, complications, and confusion reign in the soul, there is no other way than the labor of the search and the pains of growth. It is good that way, it could not be any other way. If you think objectively, you will surely see that this is so.

Let me bless all of you with the particular strength that helps you to unfold your wish capacity and gives you the strength to purify it. Receive this strength so that you can tune in on the great, universal force at your disposal if you but learn how to use it. Be blessed with this strength, my friends, so that, little by little, you will all enjoy the glory that life can be, even on this earth sphere. Learn to enjoy the serious and honest labor too that leads to it. Do not seek for miracles, tricks, and shortcuts to happiness. It cannot be. Be blessed, be in peace, be in God!