Questions and Answers

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 67 | June 10, 1960

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Greetings. I bring you divine blessings, my dear children of God, blessed is this hour. I will be happy to answer all your questions to the best of my ability.

QUESTION:  This is a continuation of my question of last session in which I asked about the Tree of Immortality. Your answer seems to apply to the Tree of Knowledge only, since the knowledge of immortality has to be kept from us, lest it weaken the instinct for survival. It seems to me that the Tree of Immortality has to do with the fact and not the knowledge of it.

ANSWER:  Knowledge is not the same as the certainty or the sense of immortality. All religions teach that the soul or the spirit is immortal.  Yet, the knowledge you gather from the outside cannot give you the inner certainty that immortality is a reality. Knowledge is different from certainty, or the sense of the reality of immortality, which comes only after a certain stage of development. Knowledge can be given to anyone. It is then up to the individual whether or not to believe it. There is something else that I did not go explain previously, however. As long as you live in the imperfect world of unreality, of illusion, you are not immortal in another sense — not only in the sense of having to endure physical death after each life and being reborn and again going through physical death, but also in the sense that sorrow, unhappiness, darkness, disappointment, hurt are each a little bit of death whenever you experience them. As long as you have not worked yourself out of this darkness, resulting from error, you cannot be in eternal life — in the higher sense of the word. In that sense, immortality is to be understood as continuous happiness and joy. What is also meant by the Tree of Immortality is the sense and knowledge that this exists.

QUESTION:  In the last lecture you said in connection with raised consciousness that we will no longer be frightened of bad people. But how can I not be frightened of murders, hold-ups, and all such doings?  This is still reality. We still feel the effect of all this.

ANSWER:  I realize that the answer to this question is not easily understood for anyone living in such fear. Whatever can be said will be heard as mere words. But when you arrive at the core of your inner conflicts, the causes of this fear, you will see the way and gain the understanding of how and why you need not fear anything, even before you are actually free of the fear. At least, you will see the way.

Whenever you find your wrong conclusions in connection with a particular fear, you see that the path clearly indicates that you need not fear. Whenever you shall have gained the full understanding of what self-responsibility means, fear dissolves because you know without a doubt that you are never dependent on the whim of other people; you are never exposed to chaotic coincidence. Until such time, all that can be said about this matter will be theory. But to fear does not make sense. The freedom and safety gained from complete self-responsibility is something that cannot be conveyed through words. It has to be experienced. The healthy soul will not call forth adversity because it has the inner will to be happy and does not wish to escape from life in any way. Adversity in any form is in reality a response to your destructive impulses, no matter how hidden and unconscious they are.

To have caused a mishap or tragedy should be understood not only in the sense of retribution, of deserved fate, but in the sense of the inner will functioning self-destructively in some manner. Once you find the reason why you unconsciously harbor destructive tendencies and wishes, you will alter them with the understanding that they are no solution and as a consequence you will feel safe. Whenever you feel unsafe, this is so because of yourself, never because of others. The latter is one of the greatest illusions of humankind.

Some of my friends who have gained sufficient insight into themselves do have some understanding of these words.

Let me also say this:  An insane person will have fears the sane person does not have. To the former, these fears are very real. The healthier and sounder a person is, spiritually and emotionally, the less fear that person will have. This is because of the absence of self-destructive tendencies or the negative functioning of the inner will. The more confidence you have in yourself, the more you will trust in life as a whole. But this self-confidence can only come with the solution of inner conflicts and deviations.

I would like to suggest to whoever has such fears that you examine exactly why you fear only such happenings and not so many other possible mishaps in life. Put these thoughts or feelings into concise words. You will find a more specific and more personal reason than the general fear you mentioned here. When you find your specific reason you will lose this fear. Without this personal search you may, at best, understand my explanations in your intellect, but the fear will remain, or manifest in another way.

QUESTION:  In this connection, I would like to ask:  Suppose I should be attacked by a murderer and were to survive. In that moment, however, would I not experience a terrible fear and shock, even if right now I’m not afraid?

ANSWER:  Yes, of course. Whenever something happens to pain or shock you, you cannot help being in some sort of disharmony. This is human. No human being can be far enough developed to be free of this. But this was not my point. I was talking about the irrational fear of being murdered. You can approach freedom only in stages. The first stage you can hope to reach is to free yourself of the fear that something might happen, although there is no particular reason or indication that it will. But when something is happening or probably will happen, then you cannot expect to take this with equanimity.

Let us consider now what the attitude of a relatively healthy person would be. He or she knows that occasionally life brings unhappiness and pain. It is also bound to bring physical death. Part of the acceptance of life is the acceptance of inevitable pain and death. The healthy person will not unduly fear them because that person has accepted this. These things lose their terror once acceptance has taken place due to understanding. Now, if there is a particular terror with regard to being murdered, but no such fear, or very little fear exists of death in any other way, there must be a particular reason. Death can be more painful in a slow consuming disease or in an accident. Murder may be a quicker and less painful death than other forms. If other forms of death are more or less accepted and not unduly feared, while being murdered is, the clue may lie in the factor of being forced into something against one’s will, against God’s will, against all order and justice. Thus, the fear is actually about being helplessly exposed to an evil force and not so much about pain and death. If the infant in you matures, you inevitably realize that you are your own master, that you do not have to give in to a “stronger” person. You may have had to while you were a child, but, as an adult, the childhood situation is no longer valid. Once you realize this and apply it to your emotional life, you may find that what you actually feared was not being murdered, but that you have no right to govern yourself. Once you realize your right to self-government, others lose their power over you.

Once this psychological conflict is straightened out and you have gained inner maturity in this respect, your attitude would be somewhat like this:  “Death and pain are unwelcome. One day death will come to me. I do not think about it now. In what way it will come, I do not know. I do not even want to know. But I trust enough in myself, in my emotional health, that when the time comes I will be able to go through anything that life brings to me, for I know that it is impossible that I will have to bear more than I am able to bear.”  That is the healthy inner attitude, without even thinking about it.

QUESTION:  My question is about a situation that is highly charged with emotion in our time of world conflict. May I ask for a little patience so that I have an opportunity to state the question.

In order to provide humankind with the necessaries of life, there are a number of economic arrangements, but two in particular are now predominant. One is called capitalism, the other is called communism. Being arrangements, they are obviously subject to change to meet the varying exigencies of human need. However, those in power on either side, because of impatience and frustration, sometimes disregard God’s laws and try by compulsion and man-made law to secure the arrangements that serve their interests. Every instrument of persuasion is used to brainwash the multitudes that one way leads to doom, the other to utopia. Passions are aroused and provocations compounded to enlarge the respective spheres of influence and to frustrate the adversary. The cold war is on. The Iron Curtain not only separates the world geographically, but the ideological curtain separates even brother from brother. At present, about half the world is committed to collectivism, and half the world to individualism.

Just recently the Pope called for an ecumenical conference to bring together the whole Christian Church. With this convocation, he specifically expressed his firm opposition to communism and seemed to make hating communism a prerequisite to Christian unity. I ask, first of all, whether this is Christian and whether it is consistent with Scripture, both as to attitude and as to concept. The word “communism” is cognate with such words as communion, community and commonwealth. I find communism clearly and abundantly expounded in Scripture. I submit but a few verses which support this.

Acts 4:32-34-35:  “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Neither was there any among them that lacked…distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

Eccl. 5:9:  “the profit of the earth is for all: the King himself is served by the field.”

Eccl. 5:13:  “There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.”

Matt. 6:19:  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth….”

Matt. 19:24:  “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

My question is manifold but I shall reduce it to the following:  How do you, in the Spirit World, look upon this conflict and what can we do to resolve it?

ANSWER:  I will tell you how we look upon this conflict. As I have already indicated some time ago, the world conflict is an exact duplication of the individual conflict. The elements we constantly observe between two or several human beings, similarly play a role in the conflicts of nations. As in the individual conflicts, so in world conflicts, often one side is more flagrantly wrong than the other — and yet, both are wrong. Ideologically, none of these two sides are ideal. But from the spiritual point of view, what you call communism is not as it is meant in the Scriptures, because the basic spiritual attitudes and laws are completely lacking in what is called communism today. In the first place, humankind’s salvation is seen only through material solutions, and that never can be. In the second place, the individual does not count in this ideology. The individual is supposed to serve the state, and the state takes the form of a god. The individual has no right for freedom and liberty, not even outwardly. A few people in power take it upon themselves to be the judges of what is good and what is bad for the individual, not only infringing on the person’s self-expression, but also undermining the sense of self-responsibility which is spiritually the most harmful act imaginable. We are concerned less with the discomfort to the individual than with the crippling effect this has on the soul.

Hence, the ideology in the so-called free world is closer to what is healthy from the spiritual point of view, in spite of the many imperfections which at this time of general human development are inevitable anyway. These imperfections in each system take many forms and each has a particularly strong effect on the other side. It is just like in a quarrel between two human beings. If A is more right than B, A’s most hidden faults and weaknesses will have a particular effect on B and B will focus his entire attention on these faults, while overlooking the good qualities and points where A is right.

Salvation can ultimately lie only in self-development. If more and more people would go on such a path, it would have a tremendous influence on humankind as a whole, such as you cannot imagine. If the world leaders were on such a path, you would surely live in a very different world, although it would not guarantee you a world without conflicts. You would still have conflicts; you do not get over your blindness so quickly. But the conflicts would have more of a chance to be resolved peacefully and constructively for both sides. For anyone who is not first looking into himself or herself to find how they contributed to the disharmony is not truly on the path. Of course, if they are on the path, and they observe the essentials and the essence of it, no great tragedy can occur, at least not to the person who is observing this basic rule. Its observance brings a certain objectivity and detachment from one’s own involvement and interest — outer, conscious, material ones, or inner, unconscious, emotional ones.

World peace and harmony can only come by more and more people pursuing such a path of self-knowledge, of understanding one’s innermost motives and feelings — especially the responsible people. It is coming, it is spreading, my friends. The day will come when at least the world leaders, the people who are in responsible positions, will be required to go through some sort of instruction whereby they obtain a degree of self-understanding. Before assuming any position of responsibility, they will be required to go through an extensive course of meeting the self, of healing the sick currents, of helping the infant in them to mature. That would enable them to conduct their affairs in a very different way.

QUESTION:  Is it possible that a karmic effect of an earlier incarnation will become apparent only after the second or third succeeding incarnation and not in the very next one?

ANSWER:  Yes, that is indeed possible. If people do not know what you know, do not do what you do, ignore the significance of self-responsibility, they can only do so much in a lifetime. Sometimes people do not solve anything. So, instead of working off the effects of former incarnations, they accumulate and collect new entanglements in addition to their unresolved conflicts. When the conflicts are not resolved, they create new ones in ever-increasing chain reactions. Thus they will be unable to dissolve the whole chain in the succeeding incarnation. The most that can be expected is that they solve the problems of the problems, if you understand what I mean. And only in a later life can they do more in order to complete the work of purification. It is to be hoped that then the work of purification will extend into several incarnations where they do not heap up new conflicts compounded from the old ones. Indeed, this frequently happens!

Remember what I said in the lecture about rebirth, about the preparation of the spirit, how certain conflicts remain on the surface of the unconscious mind which the environment brings to the fore. But deeper conflicts, existing from former incarnations, far back, remain hidden deeper. Only if you solve everything you had come to solve and time still remains on earth, something of the deeper buried conflicts may then break through. Otherwise, they would remain in the soul until the next incarnation.

QUESTION:  Would positive karma also work in this way?

ANSWER:   Yes, it would. It is based on exactly the same principle. A good result you have gained, the good effect of a good cause in you, may be a hindrance for you at this particular time. With this positive result, you may find it impossible to solve the accumulated bad effects you have caused. Therefore, it may stay behind and be utilized at a time when it will not be a hindrance.

QUESTION:  Seeing that human beings are all fallen spirits with many and long-standing images, wrong conclusions, false concepts, compulsions, and so on, which are all interwoven in our soul picture and in our total inner personality, can there be any single important action or constant pattern, habit or inclination in us that has exclusively healthy motives?

ANSWER:  This question is not easy to answer. Yes and no. It depends on the angle or vantage point from which you look at it. If you view the whole mechanism of the soul, with all its currents, attitudes and trends, there is no one separate thing. Everything works together like cogs in a wheel, as one little wheel moves the other. But if you focus your attention on one particular current, that current in itself may be healthy. It may be completely light, without any darkness, without any shadow, so that you find a good quality manifesting in a perfectly healthy way. The current and the manifestation are unpolluted, undiluted, unspoiled. But that same good quality, in a different area of your emotional life, may affect an unhealthy current and may add to a distortion, so that the distortion is fortified by the good quality. In such a case, the good quality not only fortifies a bad one, but becomes also a distortion in itself. If we focus our attention on particular areas of your being, we will find many such lights — for thus we see the unpolluted. But on the whole, everything is interconnected.

QUESTION:  I want to ask about hypnotism. There has been a lot of comment in the press lately about the possible ill effects on the hypnotized subjects. Will you tell us a little about that?

ANSWER:  Naturally, it can have ill effects. The same applies to anything else. Hypnotism is not good or bad per se. It depends on how it is used. Many considerations play a part in determining whether or not it is harmful. For instance, if unrecognized, selfish, vain motives play a role, the effect can be bad. In fact, outer selfish motives, fully recognized by the hypnotist, may be less harmful than the unrecognized ones. Therefore, a person who practices hypnotism in order to exploit others may sometimes do less harm than the person who is conscious of the best motives, but unaware of certain insecurities, causing a particular temperament to alleviate this insecurity by means of gaining power over others.

This does not only apply to the fields of the psyche, it is just as important with any kind of teacher or person who has influence over others. And yet, harm cannot come to another person whose inner will does not call it forth due to self-destructive tendencies. Self-destructiveness will always know how to find destructiveness. If need be, it will manage to “squeeze” it out of a person who has otherwise a minimum of it but, in this particular case, unfolds the maximum he or she is capable of because it has been touched off by the self-destructiveness. These are the seemingly mysterious, but actually very real laws and mechanisms of the psychic forces. This knowledge will give you a sense of the apparent contra diction, the puzzle to figure out how, on the one hand, you ought to be cautious and feel responsible, while on the other you should know that nothing untoward can happen arbitrarily. But this must not cause you to plunge ahead heedlessly.

So we always come back to the importance of self-understanding. You do not have to be free of all your conflicts before you can help others. If this were necessary, help would not exist on this earth sphere. But the maximum help exists in conjunction with a maximum inner freedom. The awareness of one’s own obstacles, and of their exact nature, is already a great deal — and is rare indeed.

As to hypnotism itself, it also depends upon how and to what end it is used. It can be helpful in a number of ways. But there are aspects of it which are harmful, even if the hypnotist fulfills the stated requirements. For instance, symptoms, which would serve the person to find the cause can be hypnotized away. This can apply to physical as well as to emotional symptoms.

If hypnotism is used merely for the sake of making life more pleasant for the moment, without trying to find the underlying causes, then it is not constructive. If it is used, however, to give certain relief while still finding the inner causes, or if it is used with the aim of increased self-knowledge, then it can be constructive. All this demands understanding and discrimination, judgment — and certainly a maximum degree of maturity and freedom from one’s own conflicts.

QUESTION:  I also wanted to ask about the effects of post-hypnotic suggestion. Is that something that lingers?

ANSWER:  No, it does not linger. Not if it is not constantly renewed. Whatever is not part of a person’s nature cannot linger. Do not forget, it is nothing but suggestion. A suggestion that is followed without being part of the personality cannot have a lasting effect. There are many other ways, methods, systems, that operate by the power of suggestion; many metaphysical movements do just that. It has to be constantly re-effected. Otherwise it wears out. Each time it is forcefully renewed a stronger inner exertion is necessary that is bound to create an inner tension. The better way to go about it is to find out why that which is desirable cannot be produced naturally by the personality itself without making post-hypnotic effects necessary. If this can be answered and explored to the very bottom, so that a deeper understanding and realization occurs, nothing will stand in the way of producing the happier or more desirable state that is otherwise produced by suggestion. But here, too, there  are exceptions of course. There are cases where post-hypnotic suggestion can be constructive and fruitful.

QUESTION:  What determines the subject’s susceptibility to hypnosis?

ANSWER:  The power to let go. The power to give up the self with all its defenses. A “bad subject” at all times holds on to the subtle bodies, usually because of an unknown fear. If, however, a person is a “bad subject” only at certain times, the reasons may be varied. One reason may be lack of confidence in the hypnotist, although this may be entirely unconscious. Or it may be that an unsolved problem, an unconscious deviation of the hypnotist, may particularly affect one person because of a correspondence. Thus, being a “bad subject” may, at times, be a healthy, unconscious defense mechanism. With a person who is always a “bad subject” it indicates a tight holding on, a general fear and distrust in life as a whole that manifests in this way. It may not be of importance to be a “good subject,” but this may be just one symptom out of many others. Please, do not oversimplify by believing that everyone who is a “good subject” is free of such tight holding-on to the self, has no fear or distrust of life. The fears may manifest in other respects.

A person who is too good a subject may possess unhealthy currents. It may be an indication of some imbalance. There may be a strong unconscious inclination to lose power over the self because the conscious mind holds on too tightly. This may afflict the intuitive sense of discrimination. A healthy person would cooperate in some cases and not in others.

QUESTION:  As you explain it, it sounds as though it were desirable to become a hypnotic subject.

ANSWER:  I do not say that, nor do I say that it is even necessary. I have just said that in many instances it is not desirable. But the inability ever to be hypnotized is a symptom of a condition to be examined. The same condition may produce other symptoms as well. It is important to eliminate the cause not because of hypnosis but because it indicates something. Such an inner rigidity produces ill effects in other areas of life which are important for the person. I do not say you have to make it your aim to become a good hypnotic subject. That in itself may be entirely unimportant, but if you know this to be the case, regard it as a symptom without dwelling on the hypnosis itself.

QUESTION:  Do you mean a person who wants to be hypnotized and cannot?

ANSWER:  The term “bad subject” applies to people who cannot, even if they want to. Now, as I said, for most people it may be entirely unnecessary to ever experience hypnosis. They can go through life being perfectly happy and healthy without it. The point is not necessarily one of becoming a “good subject.”  The point is that if a person never can be hypnotized, it may indicate a rigidity which ought to be removed for other reasons. Just as being too good a subject may indicate something else that ought to be removed.

QUESTION:  Would you say in general that one should disregard hypnosis?

ANSWER:  No, I do not say that either. I said it can be constructive if it is properly understood, properly used, and if it serves to solve one’s inner conflicts to some extent, or if the hypnotist’s personality is free to some degree, without compulsions, without fears, without uncertainties, feeling at ease with life and people.

QUESTION:  If the hypnotist has to be free and the subject has to be free, there seems to be a lot to fulfill before it becomes possible.

ANSWER:  The subject does not have to have such inner health. The subject may seek the help to become free. In some cases hypnosis helps in this direction. A person may be a so-called “good subject,” but still need help in many other ways. As I said, being a “good subject” does not mean being emotionally healthy and having inner freedom. The same thing applies to an analyst, who also has to be relatively free and emotionally mature. An analyst, as well as a hypnotist, does not have to be completely perfect and purified, but a certain degree of inner poise has to exist, with at least the awareness of where the main difficulties in the self are. As to the patient, or subject, all that is necessary is the willingness to go along. The outer willingness is insufficient in either case. The inner willingness has to be greater than the inner resistance. Otherwise success is impossible.

To make it perfectly clear, the knowledge of where and why one is still unfree is very important and the hypnotist can help, even when coming across a problem in the subject that he also has. Then the help the hypnotist gives will also help his or her own problem. And through self-help, the hypnotist further helps the other person. But in order to do that, one has to be aware of the conflict to begin with. If this awareness does not exist, help cannot be given, at least in this particular conflict which might very well be a most important one for the patient. You need not have overcome all your conflicts before you can help others, but you have to understand their essence.

QUESTION:  When does a hypnotist know he or she is ready?

ANSWER:  They know this after experiencing certain major breakthroughs, certain victories, certain reliefs, having lost certain fears, a self-confidence that they did not have before, shyness they have overcome; and, most of all, the full understanding of their own inner conflicts. When they can find one common denominator for all their various symptoms and problems — not by a laborious thought process, but because everything is falling into place as if by itself as a result of the work that has been completed — then they know they are ready.

QUESTION:  At one time you said that spiritual knowledge once acquired, in any lifetime, is never lost. Would that come under the heading of the answer you gave earlier that some of the good karma may be postponed?

ANSWER:  No, that is not the same. What I meant before refers to good results, a certain pleasantness, conditions that one has earned, so to speak. This might be hindrance for development. But inner knowledge stays. That is not blurred. That would never be a hindrance. Once you have gained it through your efforts, it remains with you at all times. It will help to remove remaining ignorance and blindness. Knowledge you have gained will always be yours, regardless of the circumstances of you life.

I bless all of you, my dearest ones, with our strength and love, with our warmth. I ask you to open your hearts and try to feel the strength that is right here in this room. May it lighten your way and unburden you. May it give you the strength to see into yourselves, to understand more and more about your inner conflicts and errors that burden you so unnecessarily — you do not know how much. You do not know how useless it is to carry this burden if you but turn inward and look into yourselves, instead of always trying to find solutions outwardly. You will not find it there. The only satisfactory way can be by looking within, no matter how remote the connection may appear at first sight.

God’s blessings go to you with a particular emphasis to strengthen you in this direction. Find the answers in yourselves, wherever you have a conflict, a disagreement, an unpleasantness in life, no matter how apparent the other person’s fault may seem to you. Find your own involvement and you will be in peace. You will have done the only thing that is constructive. Again and again I emphasize this truth, for there is nothing  more important or more valid for you to use right now in your life.

Go with this thought in mind, try to use your inner will toward that end, my dearest ones. Next time I shall discuss a subject that will be somewhat difficult in topic and in approach and that should prove to be important for all of you.

Be in peace, be in God!