Greetings, my dearest friends. Blessings for each one of you. Blessed is this hour. Joyfully, we resume the work with you on this path of self-recognition. May the coming year bring you a few steps farther. May you each find guidance where you most need it.
First of all, I should like to discuss a subject about which a few of my friends are quite confused, namely the results that your work on this path are supposed to bring. Many of my friends consciously believe or vaguely feel that when they have worked on themselves for a few months or years, no difficulties or life problems would come to them any longer. This is completely unrealistic. It just is not so. True, certain outer manifestations of your inner problems might be alleviated to some degree. It is erroneous, however, to measure your progress by whether or not life’s ups and downs continue to manifest for you.
Let us examine this topic and shed some light on the confusion. It is important for all of you to understand why this way of measuring your progress is very wrong and can be most harmful.
When you are born, you always bring your basic conflicts with you. By the time you decide to work on this path of self-recognition, usually a few decades in your present life have elapsed, during which these problems have taken deeper root in your soul. So, you have been carrying your inner problems with you not only for decades in this life, but for many centuries before. It is foolish to assume that the few relatively superficial recognitions you have made could suffice to exempt you from life’s occasional storms. For even a basic recognition arrived at in the short time you have been on the path would still have to be linked up with many tendencies that you could not possibly have recognized. You are still ignorant of how your life is connected to the basic picture of the infant in you. Therefore you are still under the domination of your unconscious, even though you may have made very good progress. In no case is the mere length of time indicative of how much progress you have made. Some people may search and work with a strong outer will, but their inner unconscious limitations block real progress. For them, a few years of apparently devoted work will bring lesser results than would a few months of work for a person who does not resist inwardly.
When the psyche is only half willing to allow you to face yourself, how can you possibly expect a real change in your life? Even those who are most willing, often have inner limitations that are unconsciously set up in a deliberate effort to prevent real insight. You allow yourself to go so far and no further. Therefore, how could it possibly be that by a comparatively superficial effort your inner life would so change that outer problems ceased? In spite of some insights, the entire significance of the child’s world within yourself would still be hidden. Your life could not possibly change, because your emotional reactions still function more or less as they did before.
But let us assume that some of you, due to a particularly flexible and willing unconscious, have arrived at facing yourselves as completely as is humanly possible. In the first place, this very process of facing oneself can only be gradual. No one can ever face all that is inside within a short time. Let us assume further that a person has arrived at a comprehensive overall view of the inner world of illusion. Even that recognition does not suffice to bring about an immediate change to the extent that no mishap can come that person’s way. For recognition and change are not the same thing, although the former is a prerequisite for the latter. You may finally recognize quite clearly how unreasonably and unrealistically your emotions react — and this is a great step forward. Yet, through long habit, your soul forces are geared to function in one direction, so that it takes considerable time and constant recognition of these reactions before a new habit pattern is created. Yes, to some degree a very gradual change is taking place by virtue of the constant honest recognition of childish emotions. This is such a healthy and liberating process that sometimes outer change may also occur. But the real change is taking place inwardly, and that is what counts.
Inner change is best indicated by the changes in your reactions to troubles and difficulties. This begins to happen when all inner barriers to facing yourself have disappeared. No fear is left in you to face anything. Therefore, you have succeeded, to some degree, in changing some of your emotional reactions. And where they have not yet changed, you see clearly, and with each observation you gain a deeper understanding of why you react immaturely. You see with ever greater clarity what the wrong assumptions are and what, in theory, the right reaction should be, or one day will be. Even then, life goes on and envelops you occasionally in its clouds. But these clouds will no longer have the power to throw you, to upset you unduly, to make you fearful and worried.
Gradually, little by little, you will cease being afraid of the times in the shadows. First, you will approach these times in a spirit of courage and with a constructive attitude toward what you can learn. And each time, when you learn an important lesson about yourself, you will emerge from the shadow into the light a stronger and freer person, a happier and more serene human being. The time will come when what is considered a difficulty will no longer be that for you. That is the only way you learn to master yourself and your life. If problems were to cease, you could never really lose your fear of them, for the worry and suspicion may remain within you that one day they might come back. But when you have mastered life’s problems, there will be no threat in them.
That is the reality, my friends. To imagine that merely because you have done, a minor amount of the work that has to be done, because you have recognized a minor part of what needs to be recognized, problems, illness, worries, frictions and other difficulties will therefore simply cease is, putting it mildly, unrealistic and childish. The only way you can measure your progress is by your reactions to the problems life inevitably brings, and also by what you gain each time, how much you grow after each mishap, whether it touches a big and important issue or a rather insignificant one that, nevertheless, once had the power to upset you disproportionately. Your only yardstick for progress is your reaction and not whether times of upheaval still continue to exist in your life.
Therefore, it is exceedingly difficult for other people, no matter how well they know you, to determine your progress. Sometimes it may be noticeable that one reacts toward life’s downs in a more serene and constructive way than before. But even that can be deceptive, for people are often quite shrewd in deceiving even themselves. They suppress the real reaction, while on the surface pseudo-calm prevails. Only what you really feel can ever be the yardstick. Outer confirmation cannot be the determining factor.
If the cosmic laws were made as you want to imagine them, namely that trouble would cease coming your way, how could you tell that you are above trouble, that you have mastered trouble? Trouble can only cease after a long period, gradually diminishing in force as you learn from it, understand its reason; realize how you have brought it about, no matter how remote the connection may at first seem. As your understanding grows, each mishap loses more of its darkness and terror, and thus you master your mishaps, yourself, and your life.
Only a comparatively long time of this kind of work, growth and progress will little by little diminish the outer difficulties — with perhaps an occasional big crisis still coming up. Needless to say that neither such a crisis, nor the lessening little upheavals are given to you because you are or are not on the path. They are the result of your wrong reactions, maybe from the past, but only manifesting at a later period. Cause and effect do not always operate instantly, as you all know by now. Often there is a delayed reaction. Generally speaking, however, cause and effect work faster when one is on the path. It may sometimes happen that one encounters a delayed reaction from the past full force, at the very time one starts the work of self-finding, or shortly thereafter. By what laws the time element of cause and effect works, is a different and very complicated subject that we shall not go into at present. I only want to state that this law does not work by static general rules, but by individual soul laws.
So, my friends, when you say to yourself, “I have worked so hard on this path and look, this and that still happens to me,” or when you judge others, this is a total misconception, which needs drastic revision. I am quite certain that when you think about my words as objectively as you know how, you will come to see that what I tell you must be the truth. It cannot be otherwise and still make sense.
These words need not discourage you, my friends. It is understandable that you often start on the path of self-recognition because you are tired of life’s problems and hope to free yourself of them in this way. However, are you quite honest with yourself when you expect major changes to bring you happiness from without simply because you have made some small efforts? Doesn’t it seem more realistic, and therefore more reliable, to start from the premise that major changes from without can only come after you have brought about major changes from within? To accomplish that, your efforts must be directly related to the change you wish. To determine the relationship of effort to desired change, you need maximum honesty with yourself. It is easy to deceive the self by shifting the emphasis of effort into another direction. For instance, some people put a great deal of effort into some work they may do for others. While this is good and commendable and is bound to bear fruit too, it has nothing to do with facing the self. It is also possible that someone may use a great deal of outer effort in order to camouflage his or her inner resistance. Only the inner will to face and change oneself determines the outcome. To know what your inner will strives for, or does not strive for, you have to go into deep meditation.
The idea that because you started to work on the path, your difficulties will cease is just as wrong as the idea that because you are on the path, added difficulties will come your way. Both errors are represented by schools of thought on your earth plane. Life in itself is a school. The curriculum of this school is made up of the outward-manifesting conditions of your inner life. This includes the positive and the negative conditions. It is sometimes more difficult to assimilate and constructively absorb the positive results of your inner life. The existence of the negative and erroneous side in you may prevent you from taking life fully at its best, as well as at its worst. The rhythmic change from positive to negative outer manifestation, and back again, alternating in cycles, applies to all human beings alike, whether or not they are on any kind of path, spiritual, psychological, or otherwise. As I said before, the only difference between these two types of people is that the person who searches in the right direction will learn to have a different approach to both the positive and the negative manifestations. Only thus will the searcher gradually master and control the self and also life. This control comes with gaining a deeper and more meaningful experience of life. The constant changes between “good” and “bad” will reveal meaning that will be missed by the person who lives ignorantly in this respect. Thus, in the measure that he or she progresses the searcher and worker on the path will experience the essence of life in a fuller dimension.
The person who faces what is inside thereby begins to understand life differently. But the person who does not will also learn from the experience that life offers. Awareness of the significance of this experience may not come until later, however it may come cumulatively, so to speak. For both types the ups and downs are equally necessary. They are part of the law of cause and effect that applies to all beings alike. Hence, any theories which proclaim that a little effort of spiritual and psychological work will either exempt you from life’s downs or bring you more difficulties than you would otherwise have are totally wrong.
When you gain clarity on this subject, you will no longer feel it an injustice that undeveloped, selfish people seem to have an easy life. You will understand that they are merely going through a period — which may happen to be an extended one this time — of favorable outer manifestation. Nor will you feel it an injustice that you, or others who are on the path, have to go through difficulties, or that “the path does not work” in spite of “one’s having tried so hard.”
No, my friends, you neither have more nor fewer difficulties because you are on the path now. The difficulties you now encounter are the fruits of what you sowed some time ago with tendencies that are still alive within yourself, whether you are fully conscious of their far-reaching significance or not. But, to the degree that you are conscious of their significance, the difficulties will be easier to tackle, will be handled more constructively, and will be strengthening instead of weakening.
I repeat, my friends, it is very necessary that you revise your views, conscious or unconscious, on this subject. Revise them according to truth, and not according to wishful thinking. You unconsciously claim a maximum of favorable change in return for a minimum of effort in facing yourself and in the willingness to change and give up obsolete, damaging tendencies and inner reactions. When you become aware of this unfair demand you extend to God, and change it, you will notice that the help God gives you in finding yourself always exceeds your efforts, once you really and unconditionally decide for it. But your efforts must be wholehearted and transcendent.
If the difficulties in your life come to a climax shortly after you started work on this path, this did not happen because you have just started. The problems would have come up anyway. Your psyche, which is far more knowing and far-seeing than your conscious mind, knew that this culminating point was bound to occur soon. The knowledge in your psyche led you to be on such a path at such a time, so as to be better equipped to deal with the culmination of your deviations that have finally manifested openly. You have chosen to search because the inner need pulled you in that direction and tried to convey to you, “Search now. Be on the path to find out what all this means, so that when the time comes you can use your knowledge most constructively, instead of being pulled deeper into despair.”
On the path of self-search one learns not only to deal better with difficulties, but also with happy times. The person who is still in darkness and ignorance about the facts of human existence and the significance of life can handle the good happenings no better than the adverse ones. Both need wisdom, maturity, and the spiritual knowledge that gives the true incentive for self-knowledge, so that your search can be conducted constructively.
Are there any questions concerning this subject?
QUESTION: In successful analysis, which amounts to almost the same as this work, it often happens that a person loses an ulcer or other physical illness. Also, other emotional problems may clear up. A bad marriage may turn into a good one, and so on. So, if one has really worked, these things happen.
ANSWER: Oh yes. I did not say that this does not happen. In fact, some changes should happen. I did say quite clearly that if you succeed in bringing about an inner change, outer change is bound to occur. What I wish to convey is that there is a mistaken idea in many metaphysically inclined circles. Their measure of spiritual progress is whether or not mishaps occur in your life. Certainly you can solve problems along the way, but that does not mean that no more problems will come. I am trying to make you understand that neither the value of the work, nor the value of your efforts can be determined by the fact that troubles, illness or other difficulties still come your way. That is not the criterion. The criterion is how you react to the problems.
QUESTION: May I add something? I think there may be old problems which hang on. If they do, it is certainly a sign that no great change has taken place. On the other hand, you may solve some old problems and then new problems may come. This does not mean that no progress was made.
ANSWER: That is true, certainly. The new problems may have an indirect connection with old problems that were recognized and changed to some degree, but their effects, of infinite variety, may not have been discovered.
QUESTION: Is there any connection between sickness and the degree to which you let go of your self-will?
ANSWER: Of course, there is a connection between improved health and the letting go of the inner tension that self-will produces. Any deviation produces an inner tension, whether it is self-will or any other wrong conclusion or erroneous tendency. But sometimes the deviations and tensions are so deep-rooted that they cannot be lifted into awareness to their full extent, at least not entirely in this incarnation. They may be too deeply ingrained and may need continuous work after this life span. Whatever can be accomplished remains as your asset. It is better to advance by degrees than to give up in despair, saying, “I cannot do it all in this life.” Nor is it right to say, “I have time later, so I need not trouble about it now.” The deeper the damaging tendency goes, the harder it becomes. It is also conceivable that one relieves an inner tension to the maximum, but the outer manifestation is already progressed too far to relieve the entire sickness. In such a case, a sickness may remain, but the suffering, physical and mental, will decrease in proportion to one’s inward progress. That is what I tried to convey to you in my words on this subject.
It is absolutely possible that you progress as well as can be expected, that your inner will functions most constructively, so that you face yourself fully and then change. And yet, illness or other trouble may one day come your way, just as it befalls other people. This may be the product of a problem so deeply rooted that you did not yet have a chance to examine it. But you will have a chance to do so when the manifestation occurs.
Now, my friends, we shall turn to a quite different topic.
The second subject I wish to discuss tonight is connected with the creative and legitimate desires that are often suppressed and the problems this brings on. In the last lecture, before we recessed for the summer, I presented the general ideas. Now I want to give some specifics which are universal and apply, at least to some degree, to everyone.
The desire to be loved exists in every human soul. This desire in itself is not only legitimate and healthy, but it is also in its own way creative, or it leads to being creative. For the lack of love can lead to a paralysis of the soul’s creative forces. In order to fulfill the soul’s longing to be loved, the human being often chooses a wrong way. This is so partly because the longing is unconscious. As long as it cannot be dealt with in the light of reason and reality, it functions abortively and therefore creates frustrations. Now, why is this desire so often unconscious? Let us first examine the reason.
The child’s desire for love is limitless, but it is made to feel that such a desire for exclusive and limitless love is wrong; therefore it feels guilty about it. It is true that exclusive and limitless love is unrealistic, its desire immature. The wrong conclusion of this lies in thinking that desire for love in itself is wrong. The right conclusion would be to feel, “The type of love I wanted so far is wrong; it cannot be. But I have a right to long for being loved. This can happen, provided that I, on my part, learn to love in the right and mature way.”
So, the first misunderstanding in this respect is that the longing for being loved is something to be ashamed of. Thus the longing is buried. Because it is buried, many unfortunate results and consequences come into being.
You may think, “With me, this longing is not buried at all. I am completely aware of it.” You may indeed be aware of the longing to some extent. But even so, you are only partly conscious of the inner sadness, the unfulfilled longing, and of your struggle within to cover up the sadness and to fight for a substitute for the love you lack. The fight wears you out, and it causes reactions that defeat the very end you wish to achieve. Each one of you, in your own way, needs to see how this applies to you, how and where you can link up your own conflicts with this universal struggle.
In spite of your shame about your yearning for love and your subsequent suppression of it, you cannot silence this clamoring voice completely. The voice is there, but it can only express itself in a devious way, which is responsible for your not getting the love that you yearn for. But you do not yet know that. You believe deep down, “It is wrong for me to seek to be loved. I have no right to be loved, I am not worthy of it. That is why I do not get it.” But the voice that can never be stilled goes on fighting in its own erroneous way, with the very attitude that is bound to make you less lovable. If you were to give up this wrong way of searching, you would realize that the real you can be loved and will be loved. The vicious circle would be broken.
Now, what is this wrong way? You substitute for your desire to be loved the desire to be approved of, to shine, to be better than others, to impress people, to be important. Somehow this seems less shameful. Thus you go through life constantly proving yourself. The substitution can assume various other forms. People may have to agree with you, to follow in your footsteps, or, you may have to prove to them that you agree with them, that you conform with public opinion or the opinion of certain people, or what you think their opinion is — and that is not always the same. All these and many others are mere substitutes for your longing to be loved.
The frequent tendency to conform, to be the “obedient child,” is part of this conflict. The entire topic of forming one’s own opinions — which we have examined before — is part of this conflict. Many people have a little of each of these tendencies manifesting within certain environments, and other tendencies coming to the fore with other kinds of people. There are many more substitute trends for the longing to be loved, but I cannot possibly enumerate all of them.
Within yourself the situation looks like this: You are unaware of the original desire. You are, at first, even unaware of the substitute desire — the fight to prove yourself. Sooner or later, in the course of this work, you are bound to become aware that this constant tendency to fight for approval exists in you. As yet you are unaware of what it covers. Those of my friends who have reached this particular awareness, or are about to reach it soon, will find it very useful to realize what is behind it all. The compulsion to prove something exists in everyone, only the degree varies. As long as you do not understand the nature of this compulsion — after you have verified its existence in you — you cannot see any solution and will be unable to give up the compulsive fight. But with the help of these words you will search in the right direction, so that you not only know in your intellect that the sadness of your unfulfillment exists, but you will also feel it — and that is good. You will then realize that your fight for approval, to prove something or other, makes you self-centered, proud, arrogant, superior — or unhealthily submissive, which is bound to make you resentful. All this struggle contributes strongly to the adverse result of people not loving you, whereas you could be loved if you were free of the entire layer of substitution. If you allowed yourself to feel the original longing, not being afraid of the supposed “humiliation” and “weakness” this desire implies, nor being afraid of feeling simple sadness that will never have an unhealthy effect on your soul, you will contribute greatly toward your fulfillment. You will realize that it is not you who are too inadequate to be loved, but that the substitute layer that you artificially concocted is the problem. You will then not wallow in damaging self-pity, but will grow sufficiently to shed those tendencies that prevent you from receiving what you should.
Moreover, you will realize that your fight is completely useless. Nothing that is inauthentic can ever bring success. And a superimposed layer, covering an original wish, is never genuine. Even if you succeed temporarily in getting what you fight for — admiration, approval, whatever it may be — it will leave you unsatisfied and with a bitter taste. You are bound to be disappointed, for you cannot ever get it to the degree you reach for, it cannot be permanent, and cannot come from as many fellow-humans as you wish. But, above all, you cannot get fulfillment because it is not what you really desire. Your frustration and unhappiness always has this conflict at the roots.
You fight as though your life is at stake — inwardly you do. You need to recognize this conflict before you can find the original desire to be loved and the sadness that you are not loved as you could be. Think how very frequently it happens that your emotions react disproportionately when someone disagrees with you. But if you are deeply convinced that someone loves you with all their heart and kindness, manifesting it with warmth and tenderness, the disagreement does not matter. Each one of you will be able to recall such instances. That should serve as a proof that my words also apply to you.
After you recognize these emotions in yourself, you will understand that you are fighting for something you do not really want and that you can never get commensurately to the desperate intensity of your struggle. Find specifically how this fight to prove something, or yourself, in one way or another, brings out the worst in you. What exactly is that? The recognition will be less painful and much more liberating than you think. For you will then understand the reason why you were not loved as much as you wished and will see that it was not because you are as you are, and cannot help it. This will encourage and strengthen you, rather than the opposite.
To recapitulate: Deep down you believe that you are unlovable, and this is what you are so afraid of facing that you set up a tight resistance against going deeper into your soul. It seems the ultimate shame to you that you want love in the first place, and that you cannot get it — which is what you believe. It is much easier to face shortcomings than to discover the unconscious conviction that you desire love but are not loved in the manner and in the measure of your wish. Your psyche knows very well how to distinguish between healthy, mature love and unhealthy, immature, dependent and weak “love” which is not real love in the way your soul yearns for it. The psyche discounts the value of the latter, but does not realize that you make it impossible to receive the mature love you yearn for by resorting to the false remedy of substitutions.
This shame is so great, it is often the real abyss that you shy away from. It is responsible for so many of your conflicts and resistances, as well as for your various faults. Yet to step into this abyss will soon prove liberating, refreshing and exhilarating, after you have overcome your initial fear and shame.
You see, the desire to be loved, in itself, is entirely creative, if stripped of the childish exclusiveness and one-sidedness. Only the way you go about making this desire come true is unrealistic, unhealthy, and damaging, not the desire itself.
Are there any questions at this point?
QUESTION: Would you now describe the right way of going about it?
ANSWER: Yes. The first step is to become aware that this desire exists in you, and to what extent. You must become completely aware to what degree you are dissatisfied in this respect. You also have to become utterly aware of the substitution. You have to experience the emotions which constantly fight for approval. You have to become aware of the compulsion to prove whatever it is you want to prove at any given instance. When you arrive at this self-awareness, not just a few times, but can see how this entire complex of feelings constantly operates in you, you can begin to deal with it. But the everyday reactions, the many subtle little ways in which your emotions express themselves, have to be fully experienced first. Concentrate on this “proving” in your daily review and self-observations. It must be examined, analyzed, and brought into awareness more and more. You will be surprised how great and beyond expectation the extent of this conflict is. Each time you observe these reactions within yourself, you will understand a little better what is behind them. You will ask yourself why it is so important for you to prove yourself in this or that way. Why should it matter so much that people admire your intelligence, or your success, or whatever it is you set out to prove. You will also detect that subtle little tendency which strives for conformity with others; you will discover the weakness embodied in this trend and begin to understand its cause. All that has to be explored and experienced in your emotions. You will inevitably find behind this entire facade your desire to be loved.
You may not necessarily desire the love of the people you want to be approved by; there may not be a specific love object in your life. But the desire to be maturely and rightly loved persists in you, submerged by your fight for approval, for proving yourself, for impressing the world. You will then understand what you really fight for. And that, broadly speaking, is the first important phase in this area of development and growth. I cannot emphasize enough that the intellectual knowledge of all this means nothing. You have to experience your emotions in this direction step by step.
During this process you will learn to let go of the fighting current to prove yourself. Your emotions will learn to give up the useless and exhausting inner fight in which you indulge in a pastime that brings you nothing but trouble. In the measure that you let go of this fight you will experience liberation and a new strength. You will feel that you have shed a cumbersome burden you need no longer carry.
As your fight for proving yourself diminishes, you prepare the way for real, mature love. Your maturing mind will make you understand that the only kind of love that is love is the kind that is given to you freely. First you will allow other people to not love you if they so choose. That may make you sad, but it will never make you tense, or compulsive, or intense. This sadness will be free of self-pity and it will not be a real hardship for you. Therefore it will not make you unpleasant. Inwardly, you constantly want to force others to love you. The outer cover is the approval, but in the last analysis you want to force people to love you. And forced love is no love. The child in you does not see that. But as you recognize these currents, you will detect the current within yourself that says quite clearly, “you must love me.” Weaker persons with unhealthy motives of their own may appear to give in temporarily and obey your command. But such a response can only leave you empty and disappointed, since it is not what you are really striving for and it cannot be had as long as the forcing current is not dissolved. For the strong and mature soul cannot be coerced into submission. It functions only in freedom. Moreover, you will never really respect the person who obeys this command. You will respect only the person who loves you freely. However, you can have the chance of experiencing this free gift only if you don’t force it. You can never experience the free gift of love as long as the forcing current operates undetected by your consciousness. Thus you first have to let people free by permitting them not to love you, if they so choose. That does not mean you have to be happy about it, but face the sadness and it will not harm you. The reward will be tremendous if someone then offers you his or her love freely. You will then understand that you had been denying yourself the chance of receiving the only true and valuable love that exists. Please, my friends, do not misunderstand. When I say you force others to love you, I do not refer to any conscious action on your part. I am speaking of your emotions. If you translate your emotional reactions to people, you will see that it amounts to that.
You will learn how to make the generous gesture of giving freedom to others not only to be wrong, or to disagree with you, or to have weaknesses which you may not approve of, but also not to love you. If you are conscious of your original desire, and then of your frustration, and then of what you do in your frustration, and then of the forcing current in you, you will clearly see that only by this process do you forfeit the free gift of real love — and not because you are not good enough. Then you are on the road upward.
May these words be the beginning of a new phase on a deeper level for each one of you. Pray for deeper understanding of the words I gave you tonight. Be blessed in the name of the Most Holy. Go in peace and in joy on your path of liberation. Move toward maturity and reality in a joyful and patient spirit. Many will be the fruits of this year’s work for all of those who do not let up. Be blessed, be in peace, be in God.