Importance of Experiencing All Feelings, Including Fear—The Dynamic State of Laziness

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 190 | March 26, 1971

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Greetings, my dearest friends here. There is a great power of blessing and love forthcoming and generated in this room.

Every once in a while I give a lecture which is an outline or blueprint shedding new light on the path as an overall venture, and also casting light on the specific stage in which you happen to be at the time you hear it. I mean, of course, those of you who are really committed to and involved in your own intensive work of self-development, self-confrontation, and growth—in short, the path. I will attempt to give an overview of all that we have covered so far, and also an outline of the principles governing human life and your relationship to the universe. Some of the material I touch upon must be necessarily a repetition, but this is so that you can be helped on a new and deeper level to perceive, connect, unify and comprehend the principles of life, your own growth within it, and the spiritual laws that govern the soul.

We all know, my friends, how important and essential it is to face and accept those aspects, feelings, convictions and attitudes in you which are either not at all conscious or not sufficiently so. Unless this awareness is cultivated, it is impossible to free the innermost center of your being, the nucleus from which all life springs. This has been said many times and you have done much work already. Let us now try to see where you are with respect to the ground still to be covered within yourself. How much have you unearthed?  How much are you aware of what is really going on in you, as opposed to the superficial explanations you have so handy?  When I address all of you together, I do not mean to convey that everyone is at the identical place or phase within his or her own path. But an overall picture can nevertheless be conveyed that is applicable to everyone of you. Even those of you who started relatively recently can be included, for you have benefited from the work that others have done before. It is as though the efforts of others have paved your way to some extent, so that if you are truly willing you can accomplish more, and faster.

As far as it is possible to generalize, I can say that by now many of you are in a position to acknowledge your destructive, negative, cruel, hostile, and selfish feelings and attitudes. You are able to see the mechanisms of your defenses to some extent. But even this partial awareness makes so much difference!  It shifts your entire position toward yourself. You no longer require yourself to defend your defenses or to pretend to be so perfect that everything in you ought to be “right.”  The capacity to own up to being fallible, human, vulnerable, irrational, wrong, needy, defenseless, weak and unhappy must by necessity increase your capacity to be strong, truly right and not self-righteous, truly independent, and fulfilled. The admission of heretofore apparently inadmissible feelings is the bridge to inner unity and fulfilling self-expression of life. The acceptance of your hate will make you more loving, the acceptance of your weakness will make you stronger, the acceptance of your pain will allow you to be more blissful. I have pointed out these apparent paradoxes often and I believe that many of you have actually begun to experience their truth. To whatever degree you have accomplished this shedding of defenses and have thus become that much more real, you have gained significant ground. This will make the further steps in that direction easier, for the beginning of any given phase is always the most difficult in every respect.

To remove self-illusions seems at first insurmountably difficult, since all human beings vaguely believe that the underlying truth is unacceptable and therefore that they themselves are unacceptable. Thus a double illusion must be removed: the underlying belief in question, as well as the cover you put over it. And this is always the most arduous part of the pathwork. Nor can it be accomplished in one fell swoop, but rather it proceeds in stages and sections.

In conjunction with a continuation of this phase of the work on yourself, it is necessary for you to comprehend on a deeper level where the negative attitudes and destructiveness come from. What is the real origin of evil?  You know and have often heard me say that the denial of your vulnerabilities, your shame of feeling helpless, and your feeling of being unlovable create evil and destructive attitudes and feelings. In other words, evil is a defense against suffering. All defenses create more suffering as well as confusion, since you can no longer be connected with the real feelings in the self.

It is therefore obvious that your further direction on the path can now be more directly concerned with the hurts and sufferings you have endured in your early life and have defended against so far. You who have learned to emotionally reexperience past feelings can corroborate as a felt reality what I have reiterated for so many years:  the denial of the original experience compels you to reexperience it over and over again. You recreate the denied experience, and thus increase the accumulated pain and hurt. More of this reexperiencing must still be done, and now it can be done safely.

Too much of what you suffered as children, especially the extent of your unhappiness, is still only intellectual knowledge for you. You do not feel how unhappy you really were as a child, and for a long time you believed just the opposite about your childhood. Gaining this knowledge first intellectually is the necessary preparation to experiencing it. Without such intellectual awareness of the truth of your childhood the defenses cannot be sufficiently weakened for safe reexperiencing on the emotional level. When the defenses are still strong they block the path to the emotional experience so that the attempt to get to the feelings is choked off, or the sudden crashing through the defense causes injury to the psyche which can, and should be, avoided. You are now truly ready, my friends, to venture into the depths of your being. There you can let go, and give yourself freely to all the accumulated feelings which up to now could never leave your system. They could not be transformed before now into their natural energy-stream precisely because you had locked the gates against feeling your feelings.

Some time ago, I was asked to discuss the problem of laziness. There is an intimate connection between the problem of laziness and feelings that have not been fully experienced. Do not look at laziness as an attitude to be given up at will, if only the person would finally come around to being reasonable and constructive. This is not a moralistic issue at all. Laziness is a manifestation of apathy, stagnation and paralysis, a result of stagnant energy in the soul substance. Stagnant soul substance is the result of feelings that have not been fully experienced or expressed, and therefore their significance and true origin have not been totally understood. When feelings are not thus experienced, understood and expressed, they accumulate and stop the flow of the life force.

It is not enough to deduce that you must have in you certain past feelings which must have logically brought about the present circumstances. Such deductive knowledge, however, is often the necessary opening to allowing yourself the deeper experience. It permits you to make room for the possibility of existent but defended feelings to emerge in a full emotional experience. However, the knowing, by itself, can be a barricade when you replace the feeling with knowing. In this case the unity of these two functions is interrupted in the same way as when you feel and do not know what the feelings mean, why and how they came about, nor how they still direct your life now. Feeling and knowing are not really two separate functions but rather tail ends of the same phenomenon. Thus, knowing can be as much a defense against feeling as not knowing and denying the knowledge part of the feeling. This shows that no rules can be established to ascertain when an emotion is blocked out by knowledge and vice versa. You will always have to look into yourself to see how you use or misuse a given approach.

There still exist many defenses against the full experience of accumulated feelings in you, my friends, in spite of all your progress. Keeping this in mind will help you to focus your attention and awareness upon these defenses to overcome them more and more. You can systematically lower the threshold of defending against your deep accumulated experiences which have become poisonous from not being released. These painful experiences cannot be released if they are not felt, known, expressed, and lived through as fully as possible.

To recapitulate:  all that is evil, destructive, and negative in human nature is a result of defending against experiencing painful, undesirable feelings. This denial stagnates energy. When feelings stagnate, energy stagnates; and if energy stagnates, you cannot move. As you know, feelings are moving energy currents. They transform constantly from one set or type of feeling into another, as long as the energy flows freely. Not experiencing feelings stops the movement of those currents and therefore stops the living energy. When the natural energy flow is halted within your soul substance, you find yourself in the position of feeling laziness, that state where movement is possible only when it is forced painfully by the outer will. This explains the hankering that exists in so many people for a seemingly desirable inactive life. It is not enough to say that these people find the difficulties of life too much for them because they are immature. This is merely a label or an explanation of an effect. Natural movement is a spontaneous expression of the inner energy flow that is never experienced as arduous or painful, nor as tiring or undesirable in any way. So, my friends, when you find yourself stagnating, lazy, passive, or inert, and when you desire to do nothing, which is often confused with the spiritual state of just being, you have a good gauge that there are feelings in you which have created psychic toxicity because you were loath to experience and acknowledge them.

The stagnation of energy currents traps not only feelings but concepts as well. You generalize from single occurrences and hold on to the resulting false beliefs. It is rare that stagnant feelings do not also include stagnant conceptualizations of life. These may exist in the deepest recesses of the soul, totally hidden from consciousness. This is what I called years ago the “images” that are held within the psyche. I helped you find these images, and you saw how you were compelled to reexperience misconceptions and stagnant feelings. Over and over again you are entrapped in the cycle of reproducing the past in one way or another until you can summon the courage to choose to live through now what was not lived through before because of your defenses. You cannot come out of these repetitive cycles, no matter how good your intentions are and how much effort you use in other ways as a substitute for experiencing your feelings, unless you really fully reexperience your earlier feelings. You must cross the barrier behind which you still harbor deep feelings so tucked away that you are not at all aware of them. And for that reason you can still delude yourself that unhappiness and bad moods just befall you out of nowhere, or that you have bad luck.

We mentioned many times that the human predicament is the dualistic split, which is nothing but a delusion of perception. This delusion has many facets, one facet being a split in the human consciousness itself. Human beings may feel one thing, believe another, and act without knowing how both these functions govern them. Lack of awareness of what you feel and what you really believe creates another manifestation of the split. When you unify knowing and feeling, you work toward mending and integration, which manifests as a wonderful new awakening and sense of wholeness.

When feelings are not experienced in their full intensity, the inner life flow must become stagnant. People will find themselves inexplicably paralyzed. Their actions will become ineffectual; life will seem to obstruct all their goals and desires. They find closed doors to realizing their talents, their needs, their selves. So-called laziness may be one manifestation of this paralysis. A lack of creativity or a feeling of general despair may be another. In this latter instance, people may often use a current event or difficulty to explain away their inner state. The truth is that a sense of futility and confusion about life and your role in it must envelop you when you resist living through the feelings you harbor; you go on harboring them because you delude yourself that avoiding the feelings will hurt you less than exposing them. There are many other manifestations. The inability to feel pleasure or to fully experience life is one of the most widespread general effects. However, there is no other way to become fully alive than to keep experiencing your real feelings.

The necessity of bringing together feeling and knowing must become more obvious to you, my friends, also as a result of the progress of your own inner journey. You have already tasted how it feels when you release the waste material of years of accumulated feelings. Such waste material has its own toxicity which you accumulate when you do not feel your feelings. You also think thoughts you do not know you think, and act without knowing what motivates your actions, subsequently contriving explanations for them.

The total experience of a feeling is as available as your willingness and readiness to venture into it. These feelings are often accumulations of centuries and millennia—not just decades. Each life incarnation presents the task of cleansing yourself by experiencing and understanding them. You are purified when there is no more waste material. After you terminate this life cycle, the conditions, circumstances, and environment of your next life into which you are drawn by an inexorable law of life will afford you the opportunity to bring to the fore any previously accumulated waste material. But memory of previous incarnations is blotted out, so that you have only this life’s past experiences to draw on.

The dimming of memory is a byproduct of the life/death cycle in which everyone is caught who denies feeling experience. When you go on denying awareness and refusing to feel the experience of what you have lived through in this very life, you perpetuate the process of dimming memory. Thus you perpetuate the cycle of dying and being born, and this process always manifests as a break in the continuity of awareness. Conversely, you eliminate this discontinuity of awareness, and with it the entire cycle of dying and being born, by living through whatever has accumulated from this life wherever it is possible to re-establish the links of memory. If all the feelings of this lifetime are fully experienced, all residual matter of previous lives will automatically be dealt with because the trauma of the now is only a trauma because the previous pains had been denied.

You can do this, my friends, if you trust in the process and in the venture of letting go, truly letting go. And here again is the problem. You cannot let go if your innermost being defends against feeling your feelings, which you know exist inside of yourself. Actually you defend against establishing a connecting link between those feelings, your inner knowledge, and your current action patterns. The paralysis that is often deemed laziness, and about which you moralize as if it were that, is therefore to be viewed as a very indirect symptom. It seems as though this as well as many other symptoms have prevented you from living. But what really prevents you from fully living is your fear of and resistance to living the feelings you did not accept when they first came to you so painfully.

Laziness is a protection against the movement of the soul substance which threatens to bring up the feelings you think you can go on avoiding without blocking your very life. Thus laziness is simultaneously an effect as well as a defense. Movement stirs up what lies stagnant. By fully understanding this, you can redirect your inner will and intent toward overcoming this self-induced protective stagnation, by mustering the courage to feel what is there to feel.

The true, serene state of being which every soul unconsciously longs for is not cautious passivity which must avoid movement and makes movement appear undesirable. The true spiritual state of being is a very active state, although it is a calm and relaxed state at the same time. It is joyous movement and action. It is only the passivity of the fearful self that creates frenzy as a counter-action against the stagnation. It is as though the personality fought hard against the stagnation by superimposing compulsive action, and then became more alienated from the truth of its stagnation, and from the reason for the stagnation, which is the fear of feeling all feelings including fear. Only when this truth is fully felt and understood, when you stop fighting against it and dissolve what causes it by feeling your feelings, can you come out of both the frenzy of overactivity and the paralysis. In other words, you must come to feel the fear that lies in laziness and in all types of stagnation.

This fear sits in everyone, even in those of you who are not overtly lazy, or who are not aware of other symptoms which this denied fear creates. This basic human condition of fear must be allowed to express itself outwardly. You must allow it to take over, in the right setting of course. And when you experience this fear, you will find two basic elements within it. The first is the childhood conditions which were so painful that you thought you could not let yourself feel them, so you cut yourself off from them. And the second even more important and significant element is the fear of the fear; the fear of experiencing the fear. This is where the real harm lies.

A number of years ago I spoke to you in a lecture on the phenomenon of self-perpetuation, and I illustrated how a denied feeling compounds itself so that it multiplies. For example:  denied fear creates fear of fear, and then the fear of feeling the fear of the fear, and so on. The same is true about other feelings. Denied anger creates anger at being angry. Then when this is denied, one becomes even angrier for being unable to accept the anger, and on and on. Frustration itself is bearable when you fully go into it. But when you are frustrated because you “ought” not to be frustrated, and then are even more frustrated because you deny it, the pain extends. This process is so significant because it points clearly to the necessity of feeling directly, no matter how undesirable feelings may be. If you compound your pain because you deny feeling your pain, this secondary pain must become bitter, twisted, and unbearable. If you accept and feel the pain, a dissolving process begins automatically. Many of you have experienced this truth a number of times in your pathwork. The same is true with fear, anger, frustration, or whatever the feeling may be.

Thus, when you feel the fear of your fear and can let yourself drop into the fear itself, this fear will very quickly give way to another denied feeling. The denied feeling—whatever it may be—will become easier to bear than its denial, the fear. And the fear itself is more bearable than the fear of the fear. In that way, you can progress to the nucleus of the accumulated waste energy of denied feelings. Fighting your feelings and defending against them creates a whole extra layer of experience that is alienated from your core and therefore artificial and more painful than the original experience it fights against. Your whole conscious self has to gather all its faculties, all its resources, and use all the ground you have gained in order to be fully determined to experience the fear of deep, painful, hurtful, frightening feelings in you.

I have often said to you, “The only way out is in and through.”  Few of you, my friends, were able to completely heed these words, but sufficient progress has been made to facilitate the new influx of energy which will now permit all those who want to go deeper into their selves to do so and come out freed and cleansed and able to truly live.

It is important now to focus your meditation. Those of you who have become convinced of the great power you thus generate have learned that the specific focusing and conscious direction you give to your meditations evokes an inner guidance in the right and balanced measure, which you can then apply to your life. The proper direction is twofold. First you need a commitment to go in and not around yourself. Humankind is, with few exceptions, continually going around rather than through. This voluntary commitment to going in and through your feelings should be the driving force in this specific meditation. Your declaration and statement that this is what you want and intend to do must create a new condition in your soul substance. You can then request specific guidance which will immediately loosen up some of the stagnant matter. The laziness that makes you avoid, postpone, and procrastinate will disappear sufficiently at this point to set a new energy influx in motion. The voluntary attitude of commitment will create an involuntary energy influx and activate the guiding wisdom of your spiritual self. Stating in your meditation your intent and wish to experience all accumulated feelings and rid yourself of waste is the best and most effective beginning.

In addition to right balance and timing, inner and outer guidance will be set up in just the way you need it for your personal situation. You will learn to become attuned to this guidance and sense it, rather than miss out and be blind and deaf to it. For it always exists as a waiting potential—not just for this phase of the path, of course, but for every single, specific phase that is necessary for you to go through. The outer, volitional self must voluntarily play its part so that the involuntary self can then take over. This involuntary self manifests in two entirely different ways:  the higher wisdom and guidance just mentioned, and the surfacing of the self that often writhes in pain but denies the experience of the residual pain of long ago. The first helps and guides the latter.

Through this meditational approach, energy is released that can be directed to this all-important purpose. You often persuade yourself that you lack the energy and the time to go into the depths of your feelings. At the same time you spend a lot of energy on other activities which may well seem more important at the moment. No matter how vitally important the other activities are, they can never be more important than this exploration, for attending to this life task is your true reason for living. In addition, it is the key to productive living for you right now.

The second important aspect of meditation is to summon your faith that “going in” will not annihilate you. What I say about this now may help you to do so. Without this act of faith you will not have the courage to do it. To put it differently, if the safety and validity of this course is not clearly conceived at the outset, your disinclination to experience painful feelings will inadvertently lead you to manufacture an artificial doubt about the safety of the process. Together with this comes an artificial illusion that “going in” can be avoided and still permit you to achieve integration, health, and a full life. Avoidance of feelings always creates such dualistic paradoxes of false doubt and false hope.

Many years ago in a lecture called “The Abyss of Illusion” I said that the path of self-realization and unification contains many junctures where it is necessary to let the self fall into what appears to be a bottomless abyss. Falling into it threatens to annihilate the entity. I said that up to a certain point in the individual’s evolution, he or she crouches in front of this abyss, holding on and not daring to jump. The individual is very, very miserable in this state, but still believes that the pseudo-safety of this cramped, fearful position is preferable to annihilation. Only after finally summoning sufficient trust to risk the jump can the person find out that he or she actually floats. Many such junctures are necessary for making the discovery all over again that it is safe to jump.

The same applies to letting yourself fall into the apparent abyss of your blocked feelings—painful, frightening feelings. Unless you do so, you will remain in the crouched, uncomfortable position in which it is really quite impossible to live and enjoy yourself. The necessary faith to take the jump can be activated by confronting the issue squarely and examining what is at stake. You have to give consideration to the fundamental question which can be summed up as follows:  “Is there really a bottomless pit of negativity, destruction, and evil at the foundation of the human condition?  Or are these aspects of a distortion that need not exist?”  If the universe is benign and trustworthy, good and safe, then you cannot and need not fear to let yourself be what you are. There are many junctures where a human being’s faith is put to the test. You have to face the discrepancy between what you claim to believe and what you actually do believe. If you believe in humanity’s ultimate spiritual nature, then you have nothing to fear. If you do not, it is necessary to be aware of this underlying doubt and confront its real nature. Having your doubts in the open will, at least, protect you from the illusory nature of your faith in humanity and its spiritual destiny. If you then come out with the conviction that you really believe human nature is ultimately bad, destructive, fearsome, and chaotic, the true motive and reason for this belief must also be examined. Such confrontation with what one truly believes versus what one thinks one believes must always be honestly worked through. This is true for any single issue of importance. Help and guidance can and should also be activated through meditation for this specific purpose.

Also state in your meditation that you wish to be aware of your special methods of avoidance, and that you no longer want to deceive yourself in this regard. It is better to go on avoiding the jump into the abyss and knowing that you do so and why, than to deny your fear of it and pretend to be unafraid.  By freely admitting your fear, you are more in touch with yourself than when you deny the fear. By confronting the validity of the fear, you may often find that the real reason behind the fear is shame and its partner, pride. Denied pride and shame often create fear. The idea that it is humiliating to have certain feelings or be in certain vulnerable states, along with the idea that you ought not to be where you are, and the feeling that your past suffering as a child is due to your being unacceptable and unlovable, all create the tendency to deny the state you are in. The pressure of this denial then creates fear, and the fear in turn requires the person to concoct theories to justify the fear. If people convince themselves that it is indeed dangerous to feel their feelings, this conviction may bring about a breakdown and a crisis that is merely a result of this deep conviction. It says in Scripture, “According to thy belief it will be done unto thee.”  This is not a magical process. If the fear of feeling your feelings is very strong, it leads to terror, and the terror can bring the person into an acute state of crisis. But the true underlying core feeling is often merely shame/pride and the misconception that the childhood pain existed because of personal inadequacy which the individual is too ashamed to expose.

Crossing the barrier of embarrassment, humiliation, shame, and pride will often dissolve fear. You must confront and squarely face these issues. Only thus can the way be smoothed to let yourself go into yourself. Meditation is a requirement without which the way becomes unnecessarily difficult. Such an approach and attitude will build the climate you need to go into the abyss of fright, loneliness, helplessness, pain, and the anger generated by the suffering you had to endure. Every tear not shed is a stoppage. Every protest not voiced sits in you and makes you express it where it is inappropriate. All these feelings seem like bottomless pits, but once you jump into them you are bound to find that there is deep inside of you that divine nucleus which dwells in you and of which you are an expression. It is a light, a warmth, an aliveness, and a security. All these are stark realities but can be experienced only when you go through the heretofore denied reality of avoided feelings.

Your spiritual self with all its joy, safety and peace is right behind the sadness and pain. It cannot be activated by a direct act of will, nor by practices and actions that leave out the necessity to experience all your feelings. But your spiritual center does manifest inexorably as a byproduct, the result of the direct act of will to go through your denied feelings.

I will end this lecture by telling you that the fear is not real. It is truly an illusion, but you must go through it by feeling it. Through the gateway of feeling your weakness lies your strength; through the gateway of feeling your pain lies your pleasure and joy; through the gateway of feeling your fear lies your security and safety; through the gateway of feeling your loneliness lies your capacity to have fulfillment, love and companionship; through the gateway of feeling your hate lies your capacity to love; through the gateway of feeling your hopelessness lies true and justified hope; through the gateway of accepting the lacks of your childhood lies your fulfillment now. When you experience all these feelings and states, it is essential that you do not delude yourself into believing they are caused by anything you experience or fail to experience now. Whatever the now brings forth is only the result of the past which still resides in your system.

Through these gateways you will find true life. All the many temptations that beckon you to follow paths which imply that it is possible to find the spiritual reality of yourself without going through these gateways are wishful thinking. There is no way around what has accumulated in you and has poisoned your whole system—your spiritual, your psychological, and often also your physical system. This poison can be eliminated only by feeling what you hoped you could avoid feeling. Then a new energy influx comes in ever greater measure. Many of you have experienced to some degree what I am saying here, and therein lies your growth. But you all have to go further in this regard. The self-punishment for hatred and spite, for cruelty and greed, for selfishness and one-sided demands upon others must be released so you can go into the terror of your fear, your shame, your pain. When you stop fighting this, you will become real, open, and truly alive.