Three R’s Revisited

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I hate rules and regulations! As a businessman, I was frequently irritated when financial regulators overseeing my financial services business (SEC, Department of Labor, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) required an honest person, such as me, to spend significant time and money complying with regulations when I had no intention of doing anything but serving my clients’ best interests. I am far from perfect, but I understood that fair, responsible behavior was not only the right thing to do but also in my best interest. Too often, I’ve observed law abiding citizens unduly scrutinized and regulated while those who are dishonest or have criminal intent ignore the regulators with impunity.

Now that I’m able to reassess my career, I see the necessity for more onerous regulations than should be necessary. In short, human beings have not evolved to the point that they voluntarily follow the Golden Rule. They don’t understand how interconnected we all are and how harming another harms them. Most people’s view of self-interest is unduly narrow and short sighted. Every country has had its embarrassing examples of corporate fraud and government corruption.

The financial crisis of a few short years ago illustrates the kind of selfish, ignorant attitude that is prevalent to this very day. Recent events show this troubling attitude continuing from the despicable behavior of banking behemoth Wells Fargo to the battles that take place in most countries over pollution regulations. If people acted responsibly by recycling, minimizing waste, and refraining from dumping chemicals and other toxins into the air and water and onto the land, environmental rules and regulations could be relaxed and eventually eliminated. Unfortunately, responsible behavior is often ignored as cost savings and convenience take priority. Neither side looks at what is best for the economy, or society at large; instant gratification has become our unconscious default.

As long as man does not face his own injustice, greed, selfishness, pride and fear all on a deeply hidden psychological levels the same attitudes are bound to continue in the world, regardless of what social reforms are instituted. Pathwork Lecture 133

Until people far and wide look deeply at themselves and make appropriate changes, rules and regulations will be needed despite the detrimental consequences they frequently produce.

David Schwerin www.consciousthinking.com

Article reposted from Speaking Tree India

Crisis of Leadership: Where to Begin?

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In a recent World Economic Forum survey 86% of the respondents reported they believe there is a leadership crisis in the world today. Given the challenging problems everywhere, this is no surprise. One of the leadership skills most lacking is self-knowledge. In fact, many experts believe that insufficient self-knowledge is the most common cause of leadership failure.

Self-knowledge means, among other things: knowing one’s values, beliefs, motives, negative attitudes and life purpose. Self-awareness requires courageous self honesty to challenge cherished but erroneous convictions. Knowing oneself is particularly valuable when one is willing to honestly look at the disharmonies in their life and make the needed changes. Where beliefs and behavior deviate from truth—biases, misconceptions, destructive reactions—a willingness to change is crucial. Knowing who we are keep us grounded and able to respond to stressful situations as well as unexpected opportunities.

Through self-awareness a leader can observe if their decisions are based on the immature, egotistical part of their personality. Such decisions are likely to be self-serving and shortsighted. This behavior will be easily recognized as arrogant and unappealing and will generate resentments that impair the leader’s authority. When a leader’s decisions are driven by the wiser, more mature part of the personality, actions that follow are likely to be more constructive and serve the common good.

Research also shows that thoughtful self-disclosure by a leader helps create a connection between the leader and his or her followers. This increases trust and enhances the willingness of followers to collaborate and engage in mutually advantageous goals. Self-disclosure entails taking ownership for one’s thoughts and feelings by sharing experiences as they happen. Expressing thoughts and feelings with honesty is key to a gaining support.

Leaders can’t improve conditions by themselves. If their followers refuse to take responsibility for their own negativities, a leader can’t force change. No matter what a leader does, if the masses resist modifying their distorted thinking or harmful actions or they cling to the status quo, necessary changes are delayed until a crisis forces the inevitable.

“When necessary change is not accepted willingly, you automatically put yourself into a state of crisis. “The greater the need for change . . . the more painful the crisis is going to be.” Pathwork Lecture 183

The first step is to explain what changes are needed. No whitewashing problems or pandering to special interests. Problems must be honestly disclosed and the price to be paid, if nothing is altered, must be clearly explained. For instance, what are the consequences if debts escalate; if infrastructure isn’t repaired; if income inequality isn’t rebalanced; if the education system worsens; if environmental challenges are ignored? The consequences of climate change would be one place to start since it affects so many people—diseases rise, natural disaster become more lethal, crops and other natural resources become less predictable. Each geographic area will have a slightly different list of pressing problems but all must be discussed openly and truthfully. Next, long term solutions and short term sacrifices must be explained with candor. What group will be advantaged and what group disadvantaged and how will those disadvantaged be helped or compensated.

So the problems we face are not just failed leadership but a failure of everyone to look deeply at their faults and negativity and willingly make changes. Self-knowledge enables leaders and followers alike to begin the process of purging thoughts and habits that are personally and globally detrimental. Once we understand how our myopic, self-serving behavior creates conditions we abhor, change becomes easier. Dishonest, inequitable, unsustainable conduct condoned anywhere encourages similar action everywhere. Deceitful behavior spawns conflict, inequitable actions widen the gap between rich and poor and ecosystem destruction harms everyone.

“World peace and harmony can only come by more and more people pursuing a path of self-knowledge, of understanding one’s innermost motives and feelings.” Pathwork Lecture 67

 

By handling obstructions in a truly honest, open, self-revealing way . . . you will set an example for world government . . .. Little by little, politicians and people of influence will be drawn into this circle.” Pathwork Lecture 209 p 4

One challenge all leaders face is the speed of change. How do those in charge embrace disruption instead of merely attempting to cope

Self-knowledge, self-disclosure and the courage to change conditioned beliefs are critical components of constructive leadership at all levels of authority. By modeling positive leadership at home and work [the local/lowest level], leaders at all levels business and government leaders will begin to exhibit compassionate, effective leadership on all levels.

Leadership requires focusing people around common goals and motivating them to take the steps necessary to achieve the agreed objectives. This requires superb communication skills that simplify complicated issues, provide realistic solutions, and instill confidence that goals can be attained and long term benefits reaped despite any short term sacrifices encountered.

The first step in this process is to explain to the people involved (city, state, country, region) where things currently stand. No whitewashing problems or pandering to special interests is acceptable. Problems must be honestly disclosed and the price to be paid if nothing is changed must be clearly explained. For instance, the consequences if debt levels are not reduced; if infrastructure is not repaired or replaced; if income inequality is not rebalanced; if the education system is allowed to deteriorate; if the needs of the environment are inadequately addressed. For example, the effects of climate change are quickly becoming obvious to most people but the solutions proposed are still short of what is needed. The consequences of ignoring the needed changes, should be spelled out in complete candor—more severe health challenges, more virulent natural disasters, more variability in supply of crops and other natural resources. Each geographic area will have a slightly different list of pressing problems but all must be discussed truthfully and bluntly.

Next, long term solutions and short term sacrifices must be explained with full candor. What group will be most advantaged and what group disadvantaged by the changes needed and how will those disadvantaged be compensated and compassionately helped. This might necessitate raising taxes on those gaining from the transition and the funds raised transferred to those less fortunate. While long term benefits from changing course should be discussed, no promises about the timing of benefits need be announced. Failure to deliver according to a timetable will destroy a leader’s credibility. Neither should leaders minimize the degree of short term hardships required.

This carrot and stick approach

To be a good leader one needs to be a good communicator. A communicator who can simplify complicated issues, elucidate realistic solutions and do so with the sufficient credibility to instill confidence and engender a willingness to make short term sacrifices for the opportunity to attain long term benefits.

 

David Schwerin

www.consciousthinking.com
photo credit: Tree of Truth via photopin (license)

Politics as Spiritual Practice

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by | Jul 20, 2016 | Spiritual Practices, Trust Your Heart | 0 comments

Politics as Spiritual Practice

This presidential election cycle has been a very INTERESTING time. Not necessarily in a positive way, but it definitely has not been a ho-hum run of the mill election. Tensions are stoked on both sides, the world in general seems to be spinning into chaos, and as a country we are more polarized than I’ve ever experienced. The dualistic world we live in seems magnified exponentially these days.

And yet crisis always has the opportunity for growth. I have learned that politics in general, and an election year in particular, is a great opportunity for me to practice reflecting on how well I “walk the talk” regarding my desire to live from a unitive perspective, and to observe compassionately the many, many ways I fall short of that.

Politics as spiritual practice. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as my spiritual teachers. Who’d have ever guessed? I don’t think I’d ever willingly sign up for that workshop! But every day life offers itself as the most fruitful spiritual practice. Our adversaries have much more to teach us than our friends.

So what better way to put our ideals to the test than this election?

I’d like to invite you to join me in slowing down a bit in your response to the media frenzy around the election and the challenges that our world is currently facing. Regardless of what country you live in, consider incorporating some or all of these practices in your daily life:

  • Meditate and/or pray before you take in the first news story of the day. Ground yourself in your spiritual center and feel your positive intention to live the day aligned with truth and love.
  • Notice if the conflictual nature of the news stories make you feel alive and energized. Is there a kind of distorted pleasure in the conflict? If so, you might want to turn the TV/computer off and take a walk. Observe what it is like to consciously choose to detach from this negative pleasure.
  • Do you find yourself debating or arguing with others who hold different beliefs? Do you detach and withdraw, while remaining steeped in judgment? Are you trying to prove yourself  “right,” or can you listen to the underlying valid concerns and viewpoints of the other?
  • Take time to feel the pain of the world without moving immediately to action. Each time you allow the grief and sadness of the world to move through you, you are releasing something for the whole world. Balance that by noticing the love and joy that is also alive and well in the world today. Can you hold both without negating or minimizing either?
  • If you are engaged in political activism, are you engaging in this noble service with an open heart? Are you campaigning  for something, or against someone? Are your spiritual and ethical values reflected in your actions?
  • Notice if your response to the events of the day relate in some way to your childhood wounding. Can you find a similarity in your reactions to the world that was your childhood family setting, and the world you live in today? Is this pointing to some personal healing that might be calling to you?

We are living in a challenging time, but let us not forget that it is also a time of great opportunity. We each are called in different ways to manifest a more beautiful world that deep down we intuitively know is possible.

I believe we can trust our intuition enough to be willing to respond in a way that supports unity instead of separation. And when we don’t quite live up to that ideal, I believe we can meet ourselves with compassion and acceptance.

I’d like to leave you today with the words from one of Melissa Etheridge’s songs:

“I believe that we are waking up from the spell that those that profit from the fear cast so well

And good people of the earth now can tell, there is no us and them.

If not now, when?

If not today, then….

What happens tomorrow?

What happens tomorrow?

All is love

All is choice

Everyone and every voice

All of life that you see

All are possibilities

As above, so below

To wed the sense into the soul

This is truth I believe

I believe, I believe.”

 

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Is Boredom a Boring Blog Post?

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Is Boredom a Boring Blog Post?

Summer brings back memories of childhood — times when the days were long and warm, the pace slower, and the world simpler. The structure and responsibility of school, homework, and extracurricular activities was temporarily replaced by the joy of chasing fireflies barefoot in the backyard, soaking in the sun at the neighborhood lake, and lying mesmerized on a blanket, counting shooting stars at midnight.

No, I didn’t have a picture perfect childhood by any means, but in those moments, regardless of family dynamics, I was in tune with the life force and I could feel my connection with everything. It was magic.

Periodically though, amidst the magnificence that is a childhood summer, something happened.

I got bored.

That restless, discontent, grumpy feeling arose from somewhere inside, and I would begin to pick fights with my siblings or friends, or complain to my parents, as if they were responsible.

Suddenly the magic had evaporated.

As summer is in full swing here in Virginia, I have been reflecting on this year and how it mirrors my childhood. In the winter and early spring, I was quite busy with obligations, deadlines, responsibilities, and projects. Actually, I was more than busy — I was overwhelmed.

Eventually that gave way to a more relaxed schedule, and I managed to catch up on all the things that had been sitting on the back burner for several months. I found time to rededicate to my meditation practice, read some good books, and hang out and laugh with friends. I found myself resting in the Oneness of Life once again.

I was really enjoying that slower pace. And then the boredom set in.

~ Life should be more exciting.

~ I’m not doing enough.

~ What project should I take on next?

~ What character defect should I work on transforming?

~ I must do something immediately to make this restless, grumpy, discontent feeling go away!

These are the thoughts that filled my mind.

Fortunately, I caught myself. I was able to stop, acknowledge the feeling, and just breathe with it. Not do anything to change it. Just notice it and hold it in compassion. And get curious about what lay underneath.

In childhood, when no one fixed my boredom for me, eventually something else would spontaneously arise from within. Some innate creativity, some ingenious plan or inspired idea would arise and reignite by passion all over again. No one had to tell me what to do, or give me things to accomplish. After a period of sitting in my funk, the boredom gave birth to a new wave of enthusiasm, a new chapter of summer.

I reconnected to my awareness of the Life Force that moves through everything, and let it lead the way.

And so it is today. When discontent, boredom, and restlessness arise in my life, rather than pushing it away, I can recognize it as the birthing ground for something new. Like the pause between the in-breath and the out-breath, emptiness is a natural and productive part of the rhythm of life. If I judge it as boring, I will be likely to fill it with tasks, projects and responsibilities that distract from the uncomfortable feelings and suffocate the creation that wants to arise.

If I sit with the restlessness, ride the wave of the not yet manifest, it will come. It always does. I can trust that. In spite of all the shortcomings of childhood, summer did teach me to trust what can feel like emptiness.

This summer, allow yourself to slow down. Relax. Unwind. And if boredom and emptiness arise, slow down even more. Ride that wave. Become receptive to that part of you that is intimately connected with everything that exists. It’s magic!

Do you remember the childhood experience of moving from boredom to creativity? How does that show up for you today?

“As a result of a process that has continued for centuries, humanity has conditioned itself to make the outer mind a very busy place, so that when that busyness ceases temporarily, the resulting quiet is confused with emptiness. It indeed seems empty. The noise will recede, and you must indeed embrace and welcome the emptiness as the most important channel through which to receive your innermost Godself.”  ~Pathwork Lecture 224

P.S. I’d love to share my free workbook with you: “Treasure in the Depths: Identifying Hidden Obstacles to Fulfillment.”

Download it here.

Spritual Practices for the “Meditationally Challenged”

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Spiritual Practices for the “Meditationally Challenged”

I have long considered myself a very committed student of personal and spiritual development, placing my spiritual growth as the number one priority in my life. At the beginning of my spiritual journey, it didn’t take long to realize that everyone I spoke to and everything I read said you cannot grow spiritually unless you meditate. You have to meditate.

So of course, I didn’t meditate.

It was too hard. I didn’t have enough time. It just wasn’t my style. Really, do Ihave to meditate? The truth is, I don’t want to do anything that someone tells me I have to do.

I spent a fair amount of time beating myself up for not being the most accomplished meditator on the planet. You know, the one who faithfully sits twice a day for at least 30 minutes, and revels in ten day silent meditation retreats?

Then one day one of my teachers told me she considered herself “meditationally challenged.” I laughed out loud in relief. Maybe there was hope for me yet???

Now, I’m not knocking meditation. The classic sitting meditation is an excellent tool for spiritual development, but after years of battling perfectionism and stubborn rebellion, I’ve realized its not the only tool in the box. Some people take to sitting meditation like a duck takes to water, while others struggle for years with the practice, and in my humble opinion, it doesn’t mean the former is necessarily the more spiritually developed.

The goal of meditation (as I understand it) is to quiet the mind, become more present in the moment, more grounded in the body, and to connect with the mystery of our spiritual essence. Not just for the time you spend on the cushion, but throughout the day.

In my struggle with sitting meditation, I have learned that if you have difficulty committing to a regular meditation practice, you can try committing to a regular spiritual practice. One that incorporates various other contemplative activities, which in some cases achieve the same results and in other cases act as stepping stones that eventually prepare and support us in adopting a more successful sitting meditation practice. Here are some of my favorite practices:

1. Write.  Writing offers so many gifts. Many times I begin journalling about anything that is on my mind, and mid-way through I find I am writing things I didn’t even know I was thinking! Guidance comes through unexpectedly when you give yourself to your writing. Committing to write from the heart in this blog every two weeks has taught me to pay attention and explore just what it is that matters to me, what is stirring in my soul, what I am struggling with, and what makes my heart sing. There are many ways to use writing as a spiritual practice — find the one that works best for you. The Pathwork teaches a spiritual journaling practice called “Daily Review,” which is a wonderful way to discover unconscious patterns, misconceptions, and defenses. If you haven’t signed up to receive my newsletter, I invite you to sign up today, and receive a free gift that will explain the practice of Daily Review as you search for patterns that may be limiting your fulfillment.

2. Read.  Carving out space in your day to read your favorite spiritual literature or poetry can be a gateway into a contemplative space, if you read slowly and take time to pause and allow the words to sink deeply into your inner being. Choose something that opens your heart and expands your consciousness. There are any number of great spiritual teachers that have authored books, and the Pathwork Lectures are an excellent source of transformative wisdom.  They are available for free online here.

3. Walk.  Locate the nearest Labyrinth in your community and engage in this ancient walking meditation practice that is an out-picturing of the inner spiritual journey you walk in your everyday life. Or, take a walk in the woods at a local park, consciously bringing your presence and attention to the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Slow down. Unwind. Breathe.

4. Float.  Floatation tanks are specially designed tanks that are filled with about a foot of salt water warmed to body temperature so that you float effortlessly in a quiet, dark space, and with the lack of sensory stimulation your brain naturally becomes quiet. You can experience states of presence that generally takes weeks or months of dedicated meditation to achieve. It’s the most relaxing, restful hour and a half I’ve ever experienced, and it offers a taste of a deep meditative state that can encourage and support a sitting meditation practice. My favorite center is AquaFloat in Charlottesville, Va. See if your area has a floatation center, and give yourself this precious gift of serenity.

5. Dance.  Put your favorite music on in your home when no one is watching and it doesn’t matter what you look like. Instead of dancing as usual, allow the music to dance you. Tune into your body, and see how it wants to move. Allow any emotions that arise and put them into the dance. When you finish, take a few moments to be still and bring your attention to the sensations in your body.

6. Create. Express your inner artist. Try your hand at painting, spend some time with a musical instrument, try contemplative photography. How about coloring? Adult coloring books are the latest fad, as they induce relaxation while invoking creativity and invite the inner child to come out and play. Whatever your favorite medium, indulge yourself. And remember, its the process, not the product that counts.

7. Exercise.  Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, swimming, and even running can bring you into the “zone.” The conscious attention you bring to the practice is important. How many calories you burn, how you look in your workout clothes, or how toned your body is isn’t the point. Becoming present to your body and your breath, the life force energy moving through you, and releasing tension and blocks in the body IS the point.

8. Get Outside.  I don’t know anything that brings me more into the present moment than participating in an enjoyable activity in Nature. What’s your favorite? Whether its hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, sailing, or surfing, choose an activity that allows the concerns of everyday life to just melt away. Take in the grounding, healing energy that Nature so generously offers.

I am sure you can think of many more activities that when practiced consciously and intentionally quiet the mind, enliven the body, and spark the spirit. If you are “meditationally challenged” like myself, consider dedicating a certain amount of time each day or each week to engage in any number of these practices. One day you may read, another day you may write.  Or you may combine several of these activities on any given day. You may find that eventually, you might actually WANT to include sitting meditation. When it is not the only form of spiritual practice you HAVE to engage in, but rather one of many options you CHOOSE to enjoy, you might find yourself with less resistance and more ability to sit quietly than you ever dreamed!

Do you have a unique way of entering a contemplative state of mind? Share your favorite spiritual practices in the comments, and help us all expand our possibilities!

 

The Vase

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ForgivenessCopyright
Contributed by Paulo Peixoto—Translated by Gustavo Monteiro—Pathwork Online (Portuguese)

Look at the broken vase as if it were already whole (again)

Joan and Agamemnon had a complicated relationship. Agamemnon was a dedicated, zealous man, with great capacity for giving, but very controlling. He really wished that everybody was very happy, but—with a narrow view of reality—he always thought he knew what was the right way to go, the only way to happiness. When he saw a person going in another direction, he lamented and prayed, asking God for her to see the truth. But when that person was Joan, everything became more difficult, especially when what was at stake was the education of the couple’s daughter: Larissa.

For Agamemnon, Joan was very permissive, allowing Larissa to do whatever she wanted, not teaching her the right way to go.

Joan acknowledged having made many mistakes in her way of educating Larissa, and told Agamemnon that if it were possible to go back in time, she would act quite differently in many ways. And she said this with great sincerity. But she did not agree with what Agamemnon understood to be the best way to educate their daughter. Also, she resented that Agamemnon recurrently blamed her for the rebelliousness of Larissa, which were not few. There was a time when, having heard Joan’s complaint that she could not stand anymore to be blamed for Larissa’s behavior, Agamemnon said, with great certainty: “How can I be guilty if it’s your fault?” It was devastating.

Having more maturity than Agamemnon, Joan realized at a certain point that she was not Agamemnon’s victim, and that if she was going through that, it was because somehow the three of them had built such a situation for themselves, and were there to grow with it. She also recognized that, in many respects, Agamemnon was more developed than her, as in his real capacity for donation—although he usually wanted things his way. There was not a time when you needed Agamemnon that he was not there, willing to help, while Joan was often silent. Yet Joan occasionally protruded into the future, imagining a time when Agamemnon would acknowledge having misjudged her and would apologize. And she drew negative pleasure from such a situation.

But there was a time when Joan’s experience was quite different. Falling into deep sleep, Joan found herself facing Agamemnon. He was immensely sorry, and apologized to her from the heart. Contrary to her expectations, Joan did not draw pleasure from the situation; She felt, in fact, deep compassion. She looked deeply into Agamemnon’s eyes and said, with a mixture of strength and softness, “it’s all right; it’s all right.” The type of communication that took place between them at that time goes far beyond what words can describe.

Upon waking, Joan realized: it was all right at that moment; There was no need to wait for a future, perhaps distant, in which Agamemnon proved sorry. If Joan would forgive him in that future, she could already forgive him now—and so she did. Joan acknowledged that she lacked her own forgiveness for the many mistakes she had made with Agamemnon—errors that she used to hide in a corner of her memory. And so she took off a stain from her heart, and a burden from her shoulders.

It is true that the resentment returned a few times, and Joan realized that you cannot completely change an emotional state instantly; but the resentment returned with an ever diminishing intensity. Joan was, little by little, releasing Agamemnon from all guilt—a state of freedom that she wanted for herself, thus taking responsibility for her own life, and realizing that Agamemnon was not her antagonist, but, just as herself, a human being on his journey back home.

June 2016

The Good Samaritan

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jesus christ healing deaf man copyright

From Pathwork Online by Paulo Peixoto and translated by Gustavo Monteiro

My favorite parable is that of the Good Samaritan.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up and asked Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

The richness of this parable could lead to discussions that would take pages and pages, but I want to address here, concisely, just one question: in our daily life, who is our neighbor, as meant in the parable of the Good Samaritan? The answer is simple: our neighbor is the one who needs us, at any given time.

For example, a parent who devotes most of his or her free time to some relief work, failing to give due consideration to his or her own child, does not realize who his or her neighbor really is. Similarly, a father or a mother, giving due attention to their son or daughter in a time reserved to be together, but failing to help someone who is really in greater need of their help at the time, does not realize who their neighbor really is.

This is a complex issue, because for every situation there are plenty of variations. No written set of rules, no matter how extensive it may be, would be enough to identify who should receive our attention, our help and our care, in every situation; and yet, all we have to do is follow a very simple rule: ask our deeper self, where we are one with God, who our neighbor is. The problem is that there are so many self-created layers of negativities and illusions involving our divine core that we may not hear its voice, or even choose not to hear it, because it would mean giving up something that we do not want to lose – perhaps some personal comfort or glory. But if we make an effort, we can not only hear that voice, but also follow its guidance. The main effort is the ongoing search for truth, starting with ourselves.

I do not know how I would have acted on that route from Jerusalem to Jericho, but I know that many times in my life I went by on the other side of someone who needed me. It is not pleasant to recognize it, but it’s liberating because no significant change for the good can happen away from the truth.

Paulo Peixoto
PWOL Collaborator
May,2016

Translated into English by
Gustavo Monteiro

Reconciling Spiritual & Material Life

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How to reconcile material life with spiritual life?

Contributed by Paulo Peixoto, April, 2016—Pathwork Canada

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This is an issue that concerns many people. Amid so much to do, there seems to be no room for moments of prayer, meditation, introspection, sharing.

Some people feel in their hearts a deep yearning for a meaningful spiritual journey, but fear they may miss that time to invest in their career or in their business, to study, to enjoy life, to rest, or for their various daily tasks. When they take some time for spiritual practices, they may feel that this time will be missed for something else, and, paradoxically, that it is not enough; they do not feel like living in a truly spiritual way. Should more time be allocated? How?

The basic misconception is that material life and spiritual life are separate—that is not the truth. There is only life. We are here on this earth to grow, to develop spiritually, but that does not mean living a cloistered life, apart from everyday life. On the contrary, spiritual growth involves applying spiritual principles to our daily life. In the seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life one may find the key to understanding the profound questions of our soul. When we live life fully, facing without escapes or restrictions all that it brings to us, then we fulfill our destiny. Organizing our time well is a must. Moments of prayer and meditation, for example, are important, but it is not only in these moments that our life takes on its spiritual character.

The Pathwork Guide once said that highly developed spiritual beings do not need to have moments of prayer, because they live in prayer—not the kind of prayer with which we are usually accustomed, of course; It is more like a state of mind, a constant connection with God. This does not apply to any of us, human beings, but we can take our steps towards the integration of material life and spiritual life, towards a richer and more fulfilling life. For this, we must learn to know ourselves, to accept ourselves as we are now, so we can gradually understand why we have certain negativities, and why we cling to them, when they are so unnecessary, so harmful. Step by step, we will purify ourselves again and reconnect to our divine center, home to all the love, all the wisdom, all life.

For most of our days, we are separated, disconnected—from ourselves, from our brothers, from God. The very duality between material life and spiritual life is a manifestation of this separation. It’s worth taking a little time, maybe twenty or thirty minutes a day, to work in our spiritual development, always exploring the messages that our material life brings to us. A part of us will always say it’s not worth it; that we are wasting time, that we would be better off doing something else. But we must face this lazy and proud part of ourselves. We must constantly remember the real reason we are here.

Paulo Peixoto
PWOL Collaborator
April 2016

Translated into English by

Gustavo Monteiro

Are You Ready to Live Your Life as Light?

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by Beth Hedquist | Apr 13, 2016 | Facing Your Fears, Online Course, Your Journey

Stone pathway in the field.Grunge and retro style.

Stone pathway in the field.Grunge and retro style.

Are You Ready to Live Your Life as Light?

Recently I attended an evening where Arun Gandhi, grandson of the great Mahatma Gandhi, was speaking as part of his “Live Your Life as Light” tour. It was an extremely inspiring evening, and I left reflecting on what it means to live your light.

How can we live our light if we don’t know what our light is?

This is the question that kept coming to me. Certainly before I began my spiritual journey, I was not even conscious of most of my darkness, let alone my light. I did feel the longing to find my purpose, but I hadn’t a clue what it was or how to find it.

As a youth, Arun Gandhi experienced the injustices of apartheid South Africa, and found himself filled with anger. He learned from his grandfather that his anger had much to teach him, and that anger channeled constructively was a powerful force for good. Today Arun Gandhi is one of the most respected figures in the international peace movement.

He had to walk through his darkness to reveal his light. His greatest gift to this world has been his darkness that he transformed.

Why is it necessary to go through the darkness? Why can’t we just ignore it, bypass it, or transcend it on the way to peace and bliss?

When we think we can ignore or deny a part of ourselves that we don’t view as desirable, it will always come out sideways. When we think we have to kill off a part of ourselves, we invite resistance. It’s the survival instinct, and it has its own wisdom. Our demons are really our angels in disguise, beckoning us to transform them back into their original form. Our faults are our strengths in distortion. They do not need to be killed but to be reeducated, loved, and understood. They are our teachers. We need not fear them, and we cannot ignore them if we wish to receive their gifts.

Many spiritual teachings speak of the necessity of facing our shadow side, and yet it is not enough to intellectually know we need to do this. We must make a sincere commitment to reclaim all aspects of ourselves, especially the parts that hide in the unconscious. Most of us don’t have a spiritual master for a grandfather to lovingly guide us on this journey, and yet we all need support in this endeavor. We just can’t do it alone.

That’s why I’ve created an eight week online course, entitled “Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Your Journey Home to the Real Self.”

It’s a course for those of you who have heard the calling to bring your gifts to the world. For those of you who are ready to bring healing to yourself in service of healing the world. For those of you who have felt that longing to live your light, but haven’t quite known where or how to begin.

Arun Gandhi spent many hours learning from the stories his grandfather would tell him, stories that held important teachings. I have a favorite story that I’d like to share with you in this course….. the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz.” While I imagine you may have enjoyed this story as a child, in this course we will travel together down the Yellow Brick Road to discover the mystical messages of the Wizard of Oz as seen through the lens of the Pathwork teachings. Messages that will help us to transform our darkness and align with the light that we have always been.

The course is packed with weekly teachings, guided meditations, journaling prompts, video, and sharing via a private Facebook group. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share your journey and be supported along the way.

Are you ready to Live Your Life as Light?

If so, I’m thrilled to announce that April 13th I am opening registration for “Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Your Journey Home to the Real Self.” The course will begin on May 23rd, and I’d love to have you join me!

Take advantage of the special early-bird price if you register by May 13th.
Learn more, and sign up here!

Dying into Life: What Is a Mystery School?

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Life-Transistions

Contributed by Darlene Rollins

From a very young age I was a seeker needing answers to the big questions of LIFE. I needed to know, “What is it all about?” Life has to mean something, suffering must have a purpose. Otherwise how is it worth living? Yet in the face of the grandeur and beauty of the living Universe something within me knew it is significant and purposeful. Something big is going on here; a great mystery that called me to penetrate it. I found the Pathwork when I was 34.  For 30 years now it has been my guiding light, helping me get the most out of every life experience I encounter and answering the burning questions in my soul. More than just a philosophy, the Pathwork was a process that helped me learn to find the answers within myself through direct experience.  Here are some of my conclusions . . . . (I write this so others might be drawn into their own inner exploration through this work.)  The journey of life seems to ask us to go through a lot.  The medicine wheel of life takes us from new beginnings as helpless infants through an ascendancy of power and creativity, but inevitably we round the turn and are looking at diminishment again, at least in terms or our physical capacities.  Yet this very cycle appears to be the way our consciousness deeply embodies its own evolution.  Physically evolution requires this Life & Death approach.  Perhaps it is the same principle on the spiritual level.  Is there a key in learning how to die?

Besides our physical death there are the little everyday deaths that we encounter, disappointment,  limitation, or unexpected loss.  In those exact same moments there is beauty and grace all around us as well.  How can we meet such a life, how can we embrace these profound and intense realities, good and bad, that life offers up usually to our total surprise?  Often as humans we try rejecting what is and striving for something else.  This keeps us endlessly dissatisfied in life. The way of dying into life, allows us to have the capacity to hold life as it is so we can play our part to allow Nature to transform it.  The Pathwork lectures say, happiness is not something attained through outer circumstances. Our responsibility is to be able to respond from the highest place we can, no matter what life brings.  This is what grows us.  Life is not a vacation, it is an initiation.  We obviously came here to die.  We do not like this answer.

Where is the instruction manual?  How can we follow a path through a house of mirrors. Life is not a simple mechanical puzzle but the most profound koan we can contemplate.  At the beginning of the Dying into Life Workshop, we all sit in the Tree of Life, as souls high up in the branches before we were born, waiting there until we feel moved to descend and take on another challenging but potentially very fruitful experience here on earth?  If you imagine this you too will feel the greatness of your soul that brought you here.

As humans we are a space of profoundly sensitive awareness.  We behold life in all its awesome and terrifying mystery and we are not sure how to be with it, how to face it, how to dance with it, especially when it seems to include the hardest things we could imagine. The Pathwork lectures are great maps for the journey.

This is what the Pathwork Mystery School, Dying into Life, is all about. We cannot fully live if we are afraid of death.  Any death, little or big that we defend against, is also a barrier to love and life.

To become our fullest self, is to feel all our feelings, is to recognize and welcome our shadow, is to accept our fate and turn it into destiny, is to use everything that life gives us as grist for polishing the precious gem stone of our inner being.  The tools of awareness and transformation to do this are found in the spiritual discourses of the Pathwork Lectures. It brings great depth of understanding into every moment of living and dying.

A Mystery School is an experiential learning environment that explores our own mortality and the contemplation of the great mystery of our own life and death. It works like a lens to focus ourselves on what really matters, and to complete what is still eating away at us that we keep trying to avoid.  It is an opportunity to examine the story and to step beyond this story into transpersonal and unitive states, where we glimpse our eternal nature.

In many spiritual traditions there are practices for meditating on death. Vision quests and initiation rites are all forms of exploring death before we die, so we can live more fully.   Through these passage rites we face and grow beyond our defensive structures to embrace the beautiful mystery that life and death are.  The Pathwork teachings are ultimately all about this very process, so a Pathwork Mystery School is a wonderful way to take these teaching more deeply into your life.

Consider what it would be like to embark on a 9 month program where you explore your life from the perspective of your impending death; where you explore your current story in a way that lets you see yourself more clearly and helps you live your story without being so attached to it.  You learn to identify with your spiritual light, the you that is an expression of this Great Mystery itself and you learn to hold with compassion all the pain and struggles around you including your own.

I have had the great pleasure to have taught this Mystery School for the graduating year of the Mid-Atlantic Transformation Program for over 10 years. It is the perfect format for truly learning to die into life.  It has evolved and deepened over the years.  I believe it is a theme that is especially relevant to our current times.

I will be offering this program at Sevenoaks starting with the first 4 day residential gathering September 21-25, 2016.  The other three weekends are listed below.  On the third weekend in March, you will undergo a ritual death and rebirth experience.  After having examined your story, your life up to now, and having asked who you are beyond the story, you are given some great Pathwork tools for living and dying and then you will be reborn back into this life from a very different perspective.

This is a great program for many people: the baby boomers who are helping with aging parents and facing their own mortality; the many people who work for the ill, aging and dying such as hospice nurses and other care-givers; the person dealing with the “death” of the midlife crises, a divorce or other loss, the younger person who is looking for the answers to the big questions of life.  This is a great continuing education opportunity for Pathworkers from other regions.  I would invite them to create their own similar program after experiencing this with me.

People will need to have some experience with inner work.  This program will evoke deep emotional work and shadow work.  Participants also should have some contemplative practice or meditation experience.  You will also have ongoing individual sessions with a helper and in between teleconference classes with the group.

There is another program for people who are brand new to this work.   Please check out the Pathwork of Transformation Program at Sevenoaks.

So if you like the sound of this,  get in touch with me and get on the list, even if you are not sure you qualify.  There will be an interview and a qualifying weekend might also be recommended for people new to inner experiential explorations and working with feelings.

There is more information on my site here http://earthwalkways.com/pathwork/3827-2/

and registration will be up shortly at sevenoaks.org.

” What I want my God, by a reversal of forces which you alone can bring about, is that my terror in the face of the nameless changes destined to renew my being, may be turned into an overwhelming joy at  being transformed into you;  Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe.

Where to Look?

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Contributed by Gustavo —Pathwork Online

We all know that there is no point in looking for something we have lost at a different place from where we lost it, just because the lighting is better or the environment is friendlier there.

People make jokes about drunks who do just that. And yet many of us, while perfectly sober, do the same very often! We do that unwittingly, regarding our happiness, our fulfillment and joy of life. Many are still looking for it on the outside, while the search can only be fruitful if we look inside ourselves.

We all have whatever is needed to be happy. The problem is that we block the very ingredients for our happiness to come to the fore and be fully perceived and enjoyed. We block them with our preconceived ideas and wrong beliefs, our willingness to blame others and fate for any mishap that may manifest in our lives. If happiness is buried under some psychic boulders, we have to remove them to allow happiness to blossom and glow.

What are those obstacles to happiness that dwell in our minds and psyche? They have different names and forms, like fear, low self esteem, perfectionism, pride, obstinacy, to name just a few.

How do we remove those obstacles? The first step is to do a thorough introspective work to become aware and acknowledge the presence of any such negativity in ourselves. The next stepis to find out why we developed such traits. The reason is usually some immature conclusions and choice of strategies to supposedly protect ourselves from painful circumstances in our childhood. These immature conclusions become rooted beliefs in our psyche, which tend to be later repressed to unconscious levels, from where they keep, nevertheless, conditioning our behavior and feelings, even in adult life. They must be identified and transformed. They are the boulders hiding and obstructing our happiness.

Happiness does not depend on outer circumstances or other people. But many people still believe that outer circumstances have to fit their wishes so that happiness can follow. In reality, it happens exactly the other way around. It is only when you have inner harmony and experience happiness within yourself that your outer life will reflect that state and you will experience happiness in your outer life as well. (Pathwork Lecture #11)

So, next time you think of your life and how happily or unhappily it has been unfolding, don’t look at the outer circumstances to find out what could make you happier. It may seem easier and more comfortable to look for happiness outside, but you will never find it there. Look inside instead. No matter how harder and uncomfortable this area of search may be, it is the only place where you can find what you will be looking for.

Have You Ever Seen Through the Eyes of Your Heart?

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Have You Ever Seen Through the Eyes of Your Heart?

I have a special friend. We began as acquaintances, because our daughters were good friends. Eventually we began to spend time together socially, and although we were quite different our connection grew.

I’d say we had a pretty strong friendship, sharing our hopes, fears, and dreams, as well as the everyday details of life. One weekend we decided to take the kids on a weekend adventure to the mountains. While there, I talked her into canoeing 12 miles on the Shenandoah River, which was a new and challenging experience for her as she was not a great swimmer.

Canoeing is an almost meditative pastime, as it has the effect of bringing you completely present in the moment. Everyday worries and pressures fall away and you become immersed in the beauty of the mountains cradling the river, the splash of a turtle leaving the log he was sunning himself on, the fragrance of the flowers growing wild along the shoreline, and the next draw of the paddle that keeps you afloat as you glide through whitewater rapids. So there we were, enjoying the gorgeous weather, stunning scenery, and the company of each other and our children, when something unexpected happened.

For a brief moment, all of her normal pretenses and defenses dropped away, and she let out a delightful laugh. One that came from somewhere deep in her soul, as if she had re-connected with the innocent, carefree child she once was.

In that moment, I SAW  her.

I saw who she most truly is in the core of her being. A seeing that came not with my eyes, but with my heart and my intuitive sense. Something deep in me recognized myself in her. It was Love seeing Love. In that moment, I fell in love with her. Not in a romantic or sexual way, but more of a profound recognition of our interconnectedness, a celebration of the truth of who we are under all the false layers we have accumulated over the years. In that moment she ceased being my friend, and became my sister.

That was years ago, but the experience profoundly changed me. Our children have grown and gone their separate ways and we don’t see each other as frequently anymore, but the bond of love remains unbroken, unchanged. Once known, love cannot be unknown. Since then, I have had other experiences similar to that one, with other friends, intimate partners, clients, and even total strangers. Each time I am graced with such a moment, I fall in love. And the more I release my defenses, my masks and pretenses, the more capable I am of seeing another with the heart.

Have you ever seen someone, really seen them, through the eyes of your heart?

Did you experience the love that overflows with the ecstatic recognition of itself?

Such love doesn’t depend on shared interests, identical political or religious persuasions, mutually reciprocated favors, or anything at all. It doesn’t require a great sense of humor, a high IQ score, or an attractive body. It just is, and it delights in recognizing itself.

We spend so much time and effort in our society hoping to be finally worthy of love, improving our “picker” so we choose the “right” loved one, learning strategies to maintain or reignite the love relationship we are already in, striving to improve our self-love, and seeking to defend against the loss of love. And all along it is living inside us, as our true nature, patiently waiting for us to drop our defenses, our strategies, and our masks so that we can embrace it in ourselves, and in each other.

I believe we all have a deep need to see and be seen. To open the eyes of the heart. To delight in the love that we are, and that is all around us, waiting to be recognized.

This February, the month that we celebrate love, it’s probably too cold to go canoeing. But it’s always the right season to get emotionally naked, and go swimming in love. Real love. The kind that can never be destroyed, because it is who we are.

Evil and the Immigrants

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Copyright: itsphotography / 123RF Stock Photo

 

If evil comes into the country by way of immigrants, who may be terrorists – and evil is defined here as the willingness to commit acts of violence in the public square – it should and must be resisted – but not primarily in the way that most presidential candidates are suggesting.

The Pathwork Guide’s conception of evil is that it is about domination – the denial of another’s free choice – and this includes slavery and exploitation, as well as the unleashing of terror on unsuspecting people – and it has other components, as well. Evil has its birth in a numbing process, where people no longer feel connection with others – the dehumanization that is so essential in wartime, to make it possible to kill the enemy. It’s certain that terrorists don’t see their victims as fully human.

Becoming numb is a process many of us experience as children, when we are exposed to conflict or pain and can’t cope with it except to numb it out. The Guide says (PL 34): “But when such numbness has become second nature and is maintained long after the painful circumstances have changed and when the person is no longer a helpless child, this, in the smallest measure, is the beginning of evil; this is how evil is born.”

To be numb to one’s own pain means equal numbness to the pain and suffering of others, the Guide says. This “is a passive attitude of indifference that enables one to watch others suffer without feeling discomfort oneself. Much of the world’s evil is caused by this state of soul.”

And then there is the third stage – what we are primarily concerned about in today’s political climate: the active infliction of cruelty, for what could be more cruel than blowing up a bomb in a café or a subway station. This comes from fear, the Guide says, and reasoning like this: “Either I allow my feelings to reach out in empathy with the other, or, in order to deflect this strong influx of warm feelings, I have to behave in the exact opposite way.” The next moment such reasoning is gone, the conscious decision forgotten, and what remains is a compelling force toward cruel acts. In these instances, all harm, all destructiveness, all evil results from denying the spontaneous real self, and substituting secondary reactions that in one way or another are always connected with fear.”

The terrorist only exists as the end product of a numbing process – a process that transcends boundaries of race, class, religion and nationality. The brutal indoctrination of young fighters which is characteristic of ISIS and Boko Haram aids and supports this numbing. Yet this process is something that has happened to every one of us, to a greater or lesser degree, when we let indifference or the desire to give in to cruelty take over and thwart the natural, open, and generous impulses of the real self.

For most commentators, the response to the terror acts of ISIS is, first off, placed in a different category than the same kind of self-numbing, indifference, and cruelty that exists everywhere. But it is really the same. Recognizing that we ourselves have the same tendencies allows us not to react with instinctive fear when the issue of refugees comes up.

A most beautiful example of welcoming the immigrant came my way as I was writing this column – the posting on Facebook by Pathwork Helper Susan Thesenga, whose daughter Pamela has a fiancé who is Muslim. On Thanksgiving, here is what Susan wrote:

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house they came – Pam, Cecilia, Cristian, and Abdul, our new young Iraqi friend, who has been in the US on refugee status for almost a year. We held a ceremony at the Sevenoaks Retreat Center medicine wheel, honoring those Native Americans who were generous enough to welcome all the refugees from Europe at that time (who, like the current Iraqi and Syrian refugees, were fleeing religious persecution). We walked around the wheel. At the east, place of new beginnings, we gave thanks for our birth. We walked to our present place on the wheel and gave thanks for where we are in our lives now. We honored and lit candles for those who have passed on – parents, relatives, and the dead in Iraq and Syria, and placed them on the center stone–representing the center of all life–known by many names–Great Spirit, God, Allah. Then we came back to the house and had a typical American feast of turkey and all the trimmings, ending with pumpkin pie. Next year we hope we will have Driss Bensaidi, Pam’s fiancé with us.

Contributed by Alan Saly—Chair of the Pathwork Press Committee.

The Power of Thanksgiving

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The grace of God is.  It exists at all times, penetrating all that is. Pathwork Lecture #250

birch treesCopyright: imstocks / 123RF Stock Photo

Surveying world events—economic, political, environmental—can become depressing. It is easy to overlook the good things happening and the countless reasons for being grateful. At this time of year many cultures and spiritual traditions remind us of the importance of appreciating life’s blessings. Research has shown that feeling gratitude lowers stress, enhances physical and emotional well-being and leads to greater life satisfaction. Positive thoughts are uplifting and lead us to recognize the abundance and benevolence around us. The natural inclination, for many, is to focus on problems and take good things for granted.

Yet even our problems can be viewed in a different light if we take a different view. People who annoy us, for example, are often a true gift. They teach us things we might otherwise disregard by mirroring back unflattering traits we need to see in our selves. We attract people who vibrate at the same frequency and who often have similar traits we might prefer to ignore. Someone who irritates us may simply be highlighting where our real work lies. In Carlos Castaneda’s books “petty tyrants” are considered to be our greatest teachers. It behooves us to see every encounter and experience as a gift.

To change negative thoughts to life affirming ones, try the following:

Maintain a gratitude journal; what are you grateful for today

Appreciate what you have rather than focusing on what is lacking

Be generous with your praise and affection for others; what goes around comes around

Go easy on yourself; no one is perfect

View all circumstances and events as learning experiences

Think of all the things you are grateful for before you go to bed and upon arising in the morning.

Give thanks for your family and friends and acquaintances; you are connected for a reason

Give thanks for the abundance in your life – both mundane and sacred

Give thanks for the natural beauty that surrounds us

Give thanks for those who mentor us and serve as role models

Give thanks to those who forgive our mistakes

Give thanks for the opportunity to contribute to life

Give thanks for the chance to learn, grow and evolve

Give thanks for the opportunity to make mistakes so learning is accelerated

Give thanks for those who watch over and guide us

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

schwerinDavid Schwerin
www.consciousthinking.com

The Gateway to Gratitude

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No matter where you are, my friends, no matter what your current condition or circumstances are, no matter how you feel, if the now is thoroughly faced, not run away from, it yields a wealth of beautiful energy, life substance, and joyfulness. Pathwork Lecture #150

Balcony above the Gateway in the Italian City of Vicenza, Instagram Effect

Balcony above the Gateway in the Italian City of Vicenza, Instagram Effect

It’s almost Thanksgiving again. Time for the G-word. Yes, Gratitude.

Gratitude is a beautiful spiritual practice that can quickly shift your perspective from a place of victimhood, despair, and anger to one of appreciation, contentment, and serenity. It can allow you to more deeply receive the blessings that are already present, and in so doing manifest more abundance.

But if you are experiencing a crisis, a tragedy, or living amidst chaos, jumping too quickly to gratitude can be inauthentic, a spiritual bypass that avoids the necessary step of feeling your emotions and holding them in compassion. Sometimes others will try to move you too quickly to gratitude because they cannot hold their own pain, and therefore are uncomfortable around yours.

If you’ve found yourself unable to genuinely feel gratitude in spite of your blessings, or feel downright anger at the suggestion that you “should” feel grateful, that may be the clue that there is a step that needs to be taken before gratitude can arise.

I’m not implying you have a free pass to spew cruelty and hatred on others, or wallow in self-pity and victimhood. But I would invite you to slow down, to view your circumstances from the perspective of your soul’s journey, and explore the spiritual meaning of the crisis you are experiencing. It is an opportunity to shift from the hard pain of resistance, defense, reactivity, and dualistic thinking, and surrender to the soft pain that is vulnerable, transformative, and healing.

Our Thanksgiving Holiday remembers the Pilgrims, the courageous souls who embarked on a difficult journey to a strange land in search of spiritual freedom. They encountered illness, scarcity, and harsh conditions both on the voyage across the sea and once they arrived in the new land. Amidst this challenging time, they found support and sustenance in the friendship and generosity of their Native American neighbors. This culminated in a joyous celebration of gratitude with the bounty of their first harvest.

Often crisis, struggle, and hardship come before the gratitude. In order to steer our ship through stormy waters, it is usually helpful–and often necessary–to allow ourselves to be witnessed, acknowledged, and supported in the truth of who we are and what we are feeling right now. This is the true meaning of being “In the Now.” If in the now we are angry instead of grateful, we feel the anger. If we are afraid, we feel the fear. If we are in illusion, we bring awareness to the illusion. But we don’t try to be someone or somewhere we are not.

Allowing yourself to receive the support of others during a crisis can be a gateway to gratitude, a bridge to the blessings, an opening to deeper insight.

In the spiritual journey of your life, where are you today? Are you still on the boat, sailing across the sea amidst the storm, looking for that safe harbor? Have you arrived in a strange land, and encountered difficult challenges? Have you allowed yourself to receive the support and encouragement of those you have met along your journey? Or have you emerged from the labor of your challenges stronger and wiser, and ready to gather around the table with loved ones in gratitude?

Wherever you are, each step is necessary along the way.

From Pathwork Lecture 150:

“No matter where you are, my friends, no matter what your current condition or circumstances are, no matter how you feel, if the now is thoroughly faced, not run away from, it yields a wealth of beautiful energy, life substance, and joyfulness.”

I have encountered several periods of my life that presented crisis, chaos, and challenges. I have known many days when Gratitude was a perspective I just couldn’t even begin to embody.

Today I am grateful for each and every person that helped me to “face the now” by acknowledging my anger, comforting me in my grief, holding me in my terror. I am grateful for all those who guided me to see the deeper spiritual meaning underneath the surface level of reality. They held the deeper faith that I would eventually come to know.

They created a gateway for me to a life rich with meaning and fulfillment.

by Beth Hedquist Sacred Discoveries | Nov 19, 2015 | Gratitude, Your Journey | 2 comments

Pilgrimage: A Call to Compassion

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Reposted from  | Oct 22, 2015 | Pilgrimage | 2 comments

Pilgrimage: A Call to Compassion

The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi.

“The flight from death and suffering causes flight from life and pleasure, often inadvertently. No matter how much one may strive for joyful participation in life and pleasure, when one consciously or unconsciously avoids facing and meeting death and suffering, the escape will also be a flight from life and pleasure.”  Pathwork Lecture 82

The suffering in this world can feel overwhelming at times.

Violence, cruelty, spite and indifference abound. Yet when we turn to spiritual teachings to comfort us in the face of suffering, it can be confusing.

I have long had difficulty with the Crucifix and the relationship Christianity has with suffering. From my perspective, admittedly clouded by misconceptions of God and religion, it seemed to glorify and romanticize suffering, and shame us for our denial of God/Christ. I have pretty much avoided crucifixes since I was a little girl growing up Catholic. And yet while on pilgrimage in Italy I found myself sitting in The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, and it was the crucifix that captured my attention. There was Jesus, hanging on the cross and bleeding, and I found myself sitting there in that pew, immersed in a deep contemplation of suffering.

Sitting in that church the question for me was not “why is there evil”, but rather “How do I respond to it? How do I heal it? How do I ease the suffering in this world?” And the answer surprised me.

That still small voice reminded me that it is not my job to heal, fix or rescue the sufferer, to take away their pain, or even to prevent their suffering, but to support that person in finding their way to God through their suffering. It is the direct experience of God that profoundly heals, transforms, and dissolves suffering. Not me. That doesn’t mean God is punishing us, or that he “allows” suffering in order to teach us a lesson, or that I shouldn’t take any action to address the suffering in this world. It means both pain and joy are a reality in this world, and they are both gateways to experience God if we allow them.

You may have heard the expression that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” I believe suffering is a result of our resistance to fully experience the very real pain of this world. The consequence of our unconsciousness. The truth that we all have a shadow side that we would rather not acknowledge, much less take responsibility for.

It is a paradox that we cannot embrace the fullness of joy without fully feeling our pain, and we cannot fully feel pain without also feeling the depth of our joy. We may not always experience them at the same time, but it is the willingness to open our hearts to whatever arises, that opens up a gateway for us to experience the grace of God. When we turn away from the pain of this world, we suffer. And we cause suffering. When we close our hearts to pain, or close our hearts to receiving joy, we close our hearts to experiencing the one Great Mystery that transcends both joy and pain, good and evil, and yet somehow embraces them all.

So how CAN we respond? When our loved ones are suffering, our principal task is to hold them in compassion, love, and non-judgment, to forgive them when they fall, to witness and support them in opening fully to whatever is present, and to refrain from adding to their suffering. If action comes from that place, it will be rooted in love.

Henri J.M. Nouwen has written:

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

When approached from that perspective, the crucifix is less a symbol of fire and brimstone, and more a call for us to respond with compassion to the realities of a dualistic world.

Today, my prayer in response to suffering echoes that of St. Francis:

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”

Try This for a Change

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Reposted from http://www.speakingtree.in/blog/try-this-for-a-change

schwerinWith so many global conflicts – over resources, territory and ideology plus increasing disputes about inequality, cronyism and climate change – it’s time we find ways to reconcile differences and discover solutions. Greater empathy, for real or imagined adversaries, is a good place to start.

Empathy is the ability to understand and be sensitive to someone else’s feelings and experiences by putting yourself in their shoes – seeing things from their perspective. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with their point of view. Simply reflect on the differences with equanimity and refrain from dismissive or divisive reactions.

Empathy strengthens constructive social behavior. By offering a non-judgmental, compassionate presence foes are more relaxed and less defensive. This allows for more respectful listening and increases the likelihood of a calm, reasoned response. Empathetic communications enables the person speaking to engage with a deeper understanding of the other person’s needs. The conversation is transformed from confrontation to curiosity and connection. This makes it easier for the parties to cooperate with one another so problems can be solved and relationships enriched by diverse points of view.

Empathetic communication is a multi-step process. First is attentive listening. Then one reflects back what they heard. Third, is a reframing; state your understanding of their feelings about the situation. Fourth, focus on assuring them you recognize what they value or need. The value or need should be expressed positively to show you grasp why they have such a need rather than suggesting that something is missing in their life. This four step process makes problem solving much easier; something I learned when I had a dispute with a neighbor. By standing in his shoes and acknowledging his wishes and then doing my best to meet what he wanted, he moderated his apprehension and allowed me to proceed with my legitimate plans. Our relationship was enhanced and I learned an important lesson: empathy has its rewards.

“Because a human being is endowed with empathy, he violates the natural order if he does not reach out to those who need care. Responding to this empathy, one is in harmony with the order of things, with dharma; otherwise, one is not.” Dayananda Saraswati

David Schwerin
www.consciousthinking.com

PL 1 The Sea of Life

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Spiritual material resembles threads, fine, ray-like threads—in this case of somber color and texture—which are spun, knotted, and entangled, until there is such a tight ball of confusion that one can disentangle it only with the greatest difficulty. . . . it takes a great deal of effort to find the truth at all.

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PL 2 Decisions and Tests

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[W]hen you understand that this life is one of many learning periods, one link in a long chain, you will at first sense and later comprehend more and more fully the connections. Then your goal will no longer be immediate happiness through the fulfillment of every single wish in this existence. You will instead direct your vision toward the whole.

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PL 3 Choosing Your Destiny—The Will to Change

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So it is important for you, my dear ones, to recognize that many of the events in your life which seem to repeat themselves were chosen and planned by you when you still had your wider vision, before matter enveloped your spirit. It will be helpful for you to know this. A very ambitious spirit may sometimes even ask for a particularly difficult destiny, knowing clearly in the state of freedom from matter that the pain to be suffered is little and of short duration in comparison to the gain. This should give you food for thought.

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PL 4 World Weariness

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T]here are a variety of possible causes for world weariness. Of course the yearning for God and perfection plays a role here too whether consciously or not, as well as the nostalgia for one’s true spiritual home that dwells in every human being. For here on earth you are only visitors, it is not your true home. But that is never the main reason for the indefinable longing. Its background is more complex, and this is what I want to talk about now.

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PL 5 Happiness for Yourself or Happiness as a Link in the Chain of Life

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How far along is any individual in this respect? Is anyone willing to give something up for the sake of another? Ask yourself: “Do I want happiness for my own sake, or is this the second consideration?” Can you address God and say, “Of course I cannot fool you, just as I cannot fool myself. True, I want to be happy. But also when I obtain this happiness, I want to maintain it by becoming a connecting link.

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PL 6 The Human Role in the Spiritual and Material Universes

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I have said it before, but I want to repeat it: Every human being, not only a medium, can and should have personal contact with God’s world. Everybody can have it! But the conditions have to be met. When God’s spirits speak to you through a medium, they never want to turn you into some puppet who is dependent on them. Yes, there are unaligned spirits—and I am not even talking about the dark ones—who would gladly give you instructions about what to do or not do; this would give them power and flatter their vanity.

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PL 7 Asking for Help and Helping Others

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Each emotional reaction, thought, opinion or tendency, even the smallest personality trait, is a luminous ray which is invisible to you, but belongs very personally to each individual being. In the same way, the fixed and yet eternally moving spiritual laws, which pertain to every possibility or modality of outer or inner reaction, also create such luminous threads. Wherever your personal rays agree with those of the spiritual laws, you fulfill your life and you are in harmony and bliss.

 

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PL 8 Mediumship—How to Contact God’s Spirit World

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Those who have made the decision and given themselves into the hands of God immediately sense what is happening within. The first reaction is a great relief and an inward joy that for a while completely takes possession of one. This wonderful feeling, though, does not stay with you forever. Hearing this, you could easily conclude, at least in your feelings, that if the heaviness and unpleasantness is likely to return, there is no point in making the decision in the first place.

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PL 9 Prayer and Meditation— The Lord’s Prayer

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My dear friends, today I would like to speak about prayer and meditation. What is the difference between the two? Many people are not quite clear about it. It is always a matter of agreeing upon the meaning of terms. I should like to make the following distinction: Prayer is a preliminary step to meditation. Prayer is a matter of thinking, meditation is prayer with feeling, it engages the soul forces as compared to the thinking forces.

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PL 10 Male and Female Incarnations: Their Rhythms and Causes

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It is generally difficult to understand the real meaning of the teaching that the Kingdom of God is within, just as Hell is within, too. You imagine that this refers to a mood and therefore to some unreal thing that cannot be grasped. People only take for real what they can see and touch; feeling states cannot be seen or touched.

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PL 11 Self-Knowledge—The Great Plan—The Spirit World

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Deep within the heart of each human being is the longing for happiness. Now what is happiness? If you ask different people, you will receive different answers. The spiritually immature, after thinking about it for some time, will say, perhaps, that if they had this or that fulfillment or a worry eliminated they would be happy.

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PL 12 The Order and Diversity of the Spiritual Worlds—The Process of Reincarnation

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One hears people say again and again, “If God exists, and there is indeed a divine order, how can it be that so many terrible things happen on earth?” You all know, you have all learned that human beings forge their own destinies. That you have to carry such heavy burdens is the result of breaking spiritual laws, often unconsciously.

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PL 13 Positive Thinking: The Right and the Wrong Kind

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Doubt is the opposite of faith; and faith, my friends, is in reality nothing other than the certainty of all that you may doubt now: it is the inner experience. Inner experience cannot come into existence through outer events. So we are dealing here with two entirely different levels of consciousness. To accomplish something within you, you have to prepare the inner conditions as well as the outer, by finding and conquering your inner blocks and hurdles, in short, everything that stands in your way to faith in its true meaning.

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PL 14 The Higher Self, the Lower Self, and the Mask

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When people are emotionally sick, it is always a sign that in one way or another a mask self has been created. They do not realize they are living a lie. They have built a layer of unreality that has nothing to do with their real being. Thus they are not being true to their real personality. As I said before, being true to oneself does not mean that you should give in to your lower self, but that you should be aware of it. Do not fool yourself if you still act according to the necessity to protect yourself and not out of enlightened vision and inner conviction. Be aware that your feelings are still unpurified in this or that respect.

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PL 16 Spiritual Nourishment—Willpower

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It is not surprising if a person, confronted the first time with this phenomenon—that a spirit should indeed be able to talk through a human being—cannot readily accept it. Many things are possible, however, of which you know nothing as yet. So just be open and wait. Eventually you will see that not only is this so, but much more exists than you can even dream of. You will not only be able to accept all this intellectually, but you will actually experience it!

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PL 17 The Call—Daily Review

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There are many of you who admit God exists. God or this Higher Intelligence—or whatever you choose to call it—is of course one and the same. Yet you do not believe that it could be possible in this wonderful Creation for an entity of higher intelligence than human beings to manifest to you through a human instrument, if preparations are made and certain conditions fulfilled.

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PL 18 Free Will

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The subject I will discuss tonight is free will. People are forever and ever debating this subject. One group claims there is no free will whatsoever: everything is fate or destiny. Another group says, more or less, that there is only free will. According to a third group, some things are determined by free will while others are not. Now which is actually true?

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PL 19 Jesus Christ

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Now who is Christ? Some Christian religions claim he is God. This is not so, for he himself has said, as you can read in the Holy Scriptures, that he is not God. He is not the Father, or the Creator. Some say Jesus was just a wise man, a sage, a great teacher with great wisdom, not unlike a few others who have lived at other times in other countries. This is also wrong. The truth is, my friends, whether you want to believe it now or not, that Jesus, the man, was the incarnation of the Christ.

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PL 20 God: The Creation

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I want to stress that there is no coincidence here; none of you have been drawn to this community by chance, not even those who come here once and do not stay because they lack either the spiritual maturity to understand what is going on, or because they do not want to develop spiritually and walk this path of perfection for which a continuous supply of spiritual food is necessary.

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PL 21 The Fall

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Since one of the most important divine aspects is free will or freedom of choice, this had to turn into its opposite too. The spirit who was the first to succumb to the temptation of abusing this power, the one who is sometimes referred to as Lucifer, Satan, or the Devil, who influenced others to follow him, would naturally have been the first one to inhabit the new world that came into existence. This spirit had complete power over all those who followed him, and, contrary to God, he used this power.

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PL 22 Salvation

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There are many ways, indeed, to test with what spirits you are communicating. Anyone who wants to judge must, under all circumstances, take the trouble to study the vast subject of how to test spirits. Only then will that person be in a position to determine from where they come. I have spoken about this subject and will do so again in the future.

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PL 25 The Path: Initial Steps, Preparation, and Decisions

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Everybody knows that it is important to be a decent person, not to commit so-called sins, to give love, to have faith, and to be kind to others. However, this is not enough. In the first place, knowing all this and actually being able to act on it are two different stories. You may be able by voluntary action to refrain from committing a crime such as stealing or killing, but you cannot possibly force yourself to feel that you do not want to harm anybody, ever.

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PL 26 Finding One’s Faults

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Another great misunderstanding is the mistaken idea that to follow the path I am showing you means neglecting your life in other ways. You see, my dear friends, I can observe the forms of your thoughts and feelings. I can see your lower self that fights constantly against the right decisions, delivering all sorts of excuses and pretexts, while you remain unaware of why you have these thoughts and what is really behind them.

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PL 27 Escape Possible Also on the Path

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Oh yes, the outer conflicts are always noticed, but you all know the outer conflict is only a reflection of the inner one. Yet people so often have the wrong attitude; in a very subtle way they think if they are trying to advance in a certain way, the outer conflict will eventually cease and they somehow expect conditions to change according to their own ideas, the preconceived ideas they have formed because of this wrong basic attitude.

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PL 28 Communication with God—Daily Review

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It is the same way with love. If love of another human being is sought with the current that is destined for the love of God, it will always leave you with a feeling of emptiness, dissatisfaction, or even frustration. So if God is not truly the basis of your life and if instead you seek worldly substitutes, the latter will never really satisfy you. However, you may certainly also feel love for and from other human beings—and indeed you should. But this love will have its proper value; it will not be your sole anchor, and you will never feel your life to be meaningless if for some reason you lose a human love as long as God has his rightful place in your heart.

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PL 29 The Forces of Activity and Passivity—Finding God’s Will

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There are twelve basic active forces and twelve basic passive forces or principles in the universe. According to the scheme of the “Pistis Sophia,” these forces are concentrated in the highest realm of light and conducted by respective entities; each one is a representative or a personification of one active or passive principle.

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PL 31 Shame

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There is a right kind and a wrong kind of shame. The right kind of shame is true repentance. Without this kind of shame, there could never be an incentive for self-development. Without it, no one would ever undergo the noble fight, my friends, against one’s lower self; no one would take the path of purification if this shame did not exist within. True repentance is therefore constructive and very positive. But there is also shame of the wrong kind. Human beings so often confuse the two kinds of shame that now I want to devote some of our time together to this subject.

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PL 32 Decision Making

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“All things work together for the good for those who love God.” Let us examine this statement of the Scriptures to find its deeper meaning. The words, “those who love God” do not mean merely that you believe in God or that you profess to love Him or that you recite some prayers. As you know, the true love of God means to work spiritually, to develop, and to get to know Divine Law in all its psychological aspects as they pertain to you personally. You have to get to know yourself so thoroughly that not only are your deeds, your words, and your thoughts in conformity with spiritual law, but also your emotions. You must come to love God in your emotions. To achieve that is, of course, a lengthy process.

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PL 33 Occupation With Self–Right and Wrong Faith

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Many good, kind and even spiritual people say, when hearing these lectures, that it is not good to think so much about the self. They feel it would be better to think more about other people. They say, occupation with the self leads to selfishness. Of course, it depends entirely on how the occupation with the self is done or in what way one thinks about other people. It is wrong to think about yourself in a destructive way filled with self-pity, complaining about your fate, and brooding unproductively about things you may have missed in life and about things you cannot control and therefore cannot change. Whoever leans toward this sort of preoccupation should not only heed the advice of shifting the emphasis from the self to others, but should also learn to channel the self-occupation into a different direction, namely a productive one.

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PL 34 Preparation for Reincarnation

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As promised, I shall speak tonight about the process of birth. I have received permission to do so from higher authority. My dear friends, let me first tell you that whatever I will say can only explain a very small and limited part of this extremely complicated procedure for which the human understanding cannot possibly be adequate. So please understand that my words can only give you a rough outline. They have to be squeezed into the limitations of human language and understanding.

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PL 35 Turning to God

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Many people seek God in the wrong way. I will try to explain what I mean. On this earth sphere there is a considerable amount of disappointment. Sometimes human beings turn to God only because contact with other human beings proves to be unsatisfactory. Perhaps not enough love is forthcoming; perhaps fear and caution cloud the expression of the innermost divine spark. Contact with other human beings can be experienced as hazardous, not bringing the blessings you seek. You may be hurt. The person in frustration often turns to God. The feeling is, “God will not disappoint me. God has enough love. God is far away and intangible: I risk nothing by loving Him. From human beings I experience only disappointment and hurt.”

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PL 36 Prayer

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Now what is prayer? Many people have no questions about it; they just take it for granted. Many others cannot understand prayer. They say—in their own way and not without logic—why should God grant a human being help or grace simply in response to prayer? Why should someone else who works but fails to pray not receive it? This argument seems, at first sight, logical. But the simple fact is that a person who does not pray will never be able to act or experience fulfillment like the person who has learned what proper prayer is and practices it. I will now try to explain this to you.

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PL 37 Acceptance, Right and Wrong Way—Dignity in Humility

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What is a wholehearted decision for God? It always involves giving up something. It may mean letting go of an opinion, a desire, perhaps a way of life. Yet in reality you do not give up anything, but the act of “giving up,” which is how this surrender appears to you, must be carried out. Only after you have proven your willingness and taken this step will you find that you actually receive much more than you have given up: you find that you have given up nothing! This paradox is veiled in a cloud of unknowing, which automatically disappears when a person has proven the willingness to sacrifice something important for God.

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PL 38 Images

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This is the way we in the spirit world see images. The way you see and feel them is through unhappiness, anxiety, and puzzlement over many apparently inexplicable things in your life. For instance, your inability to change what you wish to change or certain kinds of events that seem to reoccur regularly without an obvious reason are just two examples. There are many more.

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PL 39 Image-Finding

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The best way to begin is by thinking about your hurts, conflicts, and problems. Regard your wrong inner attitudes as ignorance and error. Actually, that is what all faults really are!  Think about your idiosyncrasies, your prejudices, your tight emotions in certain domains of life. Think how you react emotionally to certain things and when and how these reactions repeat themselves throughout your life.

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PL 40 More on Image-Finding: A Summary

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In the two previous lectures I started to indicate how the images can be found. This cannot be an easy process, for what dwells in the unconscious is hidden from conscious awareness. I have given you methods to bring these unconscious images to the surface. This, my friends, is the only way to control your life to some extent.

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PL 41 Images: The Damage They Do

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I am continuing this series about the images in the human soul, for there is no person who does not have them. Such inner impressions are formed in young years, and from those impressions wrong conclusions were drawn. These very images are responsible for your suffering, for the phantoms you carry about decade after decade, and often incarnation after incarnation.

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PL 42 Christmas Blessings—Objectivity and Subjectivity

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There is a right and proper kind of self-love. Cowardice is nothing but self-pampering, self-pitying self-concern. Courage ascribes as much importance to a cause, to an issue, or to another person as to the self. Therefore courage and love, in the last analysis, are inseparable.

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PL 43 Three Basic Personality Types: Reason, Will, Emotion

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There are three basic types of human personality. The first type governs his or her life and reactions mainly with reason. The second type does so mainly with emotion, and the third does so with the will. In other words, the three personality types are dominated by reason, by emotion, and by will.

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PL 44 The Forces of Love, Eros, and Sex

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The erotic force is one of the most potent forces in existence and has tremendous momentum and impact. It is supposed to serve as the bridge between sex and love, yet it rarely does. In a spiritually highly developed person, the erotic force carries the entity from the erotic experience, which in itself is of short duration, into the permanent state of pure love.

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PL 45 The Conflict Between Conscious and Unconscious Desires

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Your unconscious desires often deviate from your conscious ones. I think you all understand by now that this is one of the main reasons for your conflicts and frustrations. You often create similar conflicts and unfulfillments, while ignoring their full significance. The fact is that your conscious desires and aims that guide your actions are in accord with the goals of your higher self, but simultaneously lower and selfish aims are also present in your motivation.

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PL 46 Authority

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Authority is the very first conflict for a growing child when it reaches a certain degree of consciousness. Elders, parents or parent-substitutes, and later on teachers represent authority for the child. This authority denies the child many a wish fulfillment. Therefore, authority seems hostile. No matter how much love, warmth and affection a child is given, no matter how necessary the prohibition is at times, it represents the first hurdle of life.

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PL 47 The Wall Within

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The more you learn self-honesty, the deeper can the truth penetrate into the core of the soul. But it takes a lot of doing before the core is reached. Wherever the conscious emotions, opinions, thoughts, conclusions, and desires are separated from those which are unconscious, we can see a wall in the human soul. You all know that thoughts and feelings create forms of subtle matter which are of a substance every bit as real as your material substance. So this wall is a reality and, alas, often a greater reality than your matter.

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PL 48 The Life Force in the Universe

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An inanimate object is petrified life force. A beautiful idea, a truth, is flowing life force. Life force is eternal and therefore all life is eternal. Death is but an illusion. An inanimate object you call dead is only so temporarily. All life, in whatever way it manifests, must exist eternally, for non-eternal life is no life and therefore a meaningless contradiction. The life force contains all divine attributes. It is, it has not come into existence, it does not do, it does not work or have. It simply is. Try to understand the significance and the distinction of these words. Life force is all around you and within you.

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PL 49 Obstacles on the Path: Old Stuff, Wrong Guilt, and Who, Me?

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Identifying and analyzing your images and wrong conclusions will lead you finally to the recognition of their common denominator: The constructive attitude is: “In my ignorance I believe—perhaps unconsciously so far—that selfishness will bring me reward, will protect me from hurt. In what way have I been selfish? In what way has my conclusion been wrong from this viewpoint? What is the right conclusion?” If you will consider your inner problems from this angle—after you have found hitherto hidden emotions, reactions, and tendencies—you will be able to make a change in your personality that will eventually change your life.

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PL 50 The Vicious Circle

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Tonight I shall discuss one of the vicious circles that is very common among human beings. To some degree it operates in every human soul. Most of the time it lives in the subconscious, although some parts of this circle may be conscious. It is important in this work that you follow the circle until you uncover it in its entirety, for otherwise you cannot dissolve it. My words are not addressed so much to your conscious mind, to your intellect, but to the level of your emotions where this vicious circle exists.

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PL 51 Importance of Forming Independent Opinions

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These obstacles arise from the blindness in which you are encased and from your lack of understanding of the blindness of others. The blindness of others hurts you, and in your own blindness you are unaware of how much and how often you hurt the other person. If you can keep this mutual blindness in mind, my dear ones, it will constitute the basic steppingstone for proceeding further.

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PL 52 The God-Image

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Children experience their first conflict with authority at an early age. I have talked at length about this. They also learn that God is the highest authority. Therefore it is not surprising that children project their subjective experiences with authority on their imaginings about God. An image is formed, and whatever the child’s, and later the adult’s, relationship to authority is, his or her attitude toward God will, most probably, be colored and influenced by it.

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PL 53 Self-Love

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Tonight I should like to discuss the subject of self-love. You all know — I have said it again and again — that each truth can be distorted into an untruth. This is, perhaps, the most powerful weapon of evil. Complete untruth is not dangerous. But when something that may be true in some circumstances is misapplied in others, distorted and rigidly set up as an inflexible rule, that is the danger of evil. The truth and meaning of any concept or idea can be distorted to the extreme point of nullification.

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PL 54 Questions and Answers

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QUESTION: The first is from someone who is not here. It concerns the Holy Ghost. It reads: May I ask the cosmic sense and the human meaning attributed to the power of the Holy Ghost? In some religions and philosophies the Holy Ghost is considered as a future leader and messenger to humanity. In our life and work can we or should we be so devoted to and helped by the Holy Ghost as we are supposed to be devoted to and helped by Jesus?

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PL 55 Three Cosmic Principles: The Expanding, the Restricting, and the Static Principles

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It is appropriate that we start the new season with a subject that deals with three cosmic principles existing in the entire universe. They are the expanding, the restricting, and the static principles. They manifest in nature; they govern and influence everything that has ever been created and ever will be created. There is no branch of human science where these principles cannot be found. They penetrate and form the human soul as well. In other words, they exist on all levels and in all forms, from the most subtle to the coarsest. They exist in their pure form as well as in deviation and distortion.

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PL 56 Capacity to Wish—Health and Unhealthy Motives in Desire

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

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PL 57 The Mass Image of Self-Importance

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Such a universal mass image is the following: “If I receive attention or approval or admiration, all my worth is established not only in the eyes of the world but in my own eyes. If I cannot get it, then I am inferior.” Needless to say that this is a wrong conclusion and not a conscious thought, but an unconscious emotional attitude. None of you will fail to verify this emotion within yourself.

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PL 58 The Desire for Happiness and the Desire for Unhappiness

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The desire for happiness is already in existence when the human entity is born. It exists in the small infant. The infant’s idea of happiness is fulfillment of all its desires instantly and in exactly the way it wants it. Regardless of how adult a person may be, a remnant of this infant remains with him for the rest of his life.

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PL 60 The Abyss of Illusion—Freedom and Self-Responsibility

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At times I have described the path you are taking by depicting landscapes as you know them on earth. There are shrubs and thickets, narrow ledges and cliffs. At times the going is rough and tedious, the way steep and stony. At other times you find yourselves on a meadow of rest and light until you are ready to tackle the next hurdle. All this is not merely symbolic. These forms truly exist. They are the product of your inner attitudes and convictions, thoughts and emotions. Many of these create obstacles through which you have to grope your way.

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PL 62 Man and Woman

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The original spirit as first created was male and female in one. When the development of all the fallen beings will have been completed, male and female shall be one again. As one of the byproducts of the Fall, the original being separated and split. I have stated this before at various times. The lower the development of the entities that have been involved in the fall, the more the original being is now split into a greater number of separate parts. The development of humanity has reached a stage where the split is twofold. It manifests in the existence of the two sexes: man and woman.

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PL 63 Questions and Answers

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QUESTION: I would like to ask something about self-responsibility. Would not self-responsibility lead to irresponsibility toward others? If I am responsible for just myself, how then am I my brother’s keeper? Wouldn’t it lead to selfishness, being responsible only for my own life and well-being? I would look for that which is best and most suitable for me first, and only then consider the other person. Although I would give the other equal rights, I would consider myself first.

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PL 64 Outer Will and Inner Will—Misconception About Selfishness

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Tonight we will discuss willpower. One often hears that with the proper application of willpower practically anything can be achieved. Yet you all have had the experience that you wish very much for something, but in vain. This is due not only to unconscious contrary will-currents that divide your will, but also to something that is vastly overlooked. It is the fact that two different kinds of will exist: the inner will and the outer will. This is very important for you to understand.

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PL 66 Shame of the Higher Self

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Strangely enough, people are just as ashamed of their faculties of love, humility, generosity — the very best they have to offer — as they are of the small, selfish and ungiving part of their nature. Let us consider what causes this inner tragedy, this senseless struggle. One main factor is responsible, which varies in extent, detail and manifestation with every individual.

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PL 68 Suppression of Positive and Creative Tendencies—Thought Processes

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You may think it makes no sense to suppress positive aspects since only the negative is unpleasant to face and therefore only that needs to be suppressed. But this is not so. Just as frequently as you suppress the more unpleasant, you also suppress the most creative, the most constructive aspects in you, those that would lead you to personal growth as befits your individual personality.

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PL 69 The Folly of Watching for Results While on the Path; Fulfillment or suppression of the Valid Desire to Be Loved

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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.

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PL 70 Questions and Answers

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QUESTION: In your answer to my question after the last lecture, about the right way toward the love we all desire, you described the work process of realizing, observing, and finally abandoning the wrong way in order to clear the path for the right way. You ended with the sentence: “Then you are on the road upward.” I would now like to ask you to describe that road upward, the right way, the healthy approach that should follow the work of letting go of the compulsive wrong way.

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PL 72 The Fear of Loving

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We now know that those who cannot love are immature. Immaturity causes unreality. Unreality, being untrue, must perforce, cause unhappiness and conflict, darkness and ignorance. Thus, maturity is really the ability to love. We also discussed that the child in you requires an unlimited amount of love. The child is as unreasonable, as void of understanding, as demanding and one-sided as all immature creatures are. Its impossible wants are: to be loved by all, to be loved totally, to have every wish gratified instantly, and to be loved in spite of its unreasonableness and selfishness. This is why you are afraid of loving.

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PL 73 Compulsion to Recreate and Overcome Childhood Hurts

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Since children so seldom receive sufficient mature love and warmth, they continue to hunger for it throughout life unless this lack and hurt is recognized and properly dealt with. If not, as adults they will go through life unconsciously crying out for what they missed in childhood. This will make them incapable of loving maturely. You can see how this condition continues from generation to generation.

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PL 74 Confusions and Hazy Motivations

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I cannot emphasize too strongly that you need first to find out exactly what the confusion is. Whenever something bothers you, be it merely a mood, an unpleasant inner reaction, or an actual outer happening apparently caused by other people, try to find out how you are confused; how your thoughts are muddled; how you are not clear about an idea, a supposedly right reaction, about a principle of general conduct. Ascertain if there is a contradiction of right principles. Put this confusion down concisely, in writing: “I am confused because I do not know…” whatever it may be. Break it down into several questions. The more concise your questions are, the more aware you will become of exactly what your confusion is.

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PL 75 The Great Transition in Human Development from Isolation to Union

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Now comes a third major phase on this path. For those of you who have already gained an overall understanding about your inner problems, it will become necessary to now evaluate your hidden images and complexes with a focus on your faults that are embedded in them. You may rediscover the very same faults you had found at the very beginning of your work and which you thought you had overcome, or perhaps variations of them, deeply hidden within your innermost conflicts

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PL 77 Self-Confidence: Its True Origin and What Prohibits It

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The subject tonight will be self-confidence. What is self-confidence? When your real being, your real self, your intuitive nature manifests, there is no uncertainty in you, no doubt about your right reaction or action, and no wavering. Your instant and spontaneous reaction is of such a nature that you know deep down, “This is right, this is so.”

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PL 80 Cooperation, Communication, Union

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I will, however, discuss two preliminary stages in the evolution toward union. These two stages do exist on your plane of existence and consciousness. They are, at the lower level, cooperation, and, at a higher level, communication. No living creature can exist without cooperation and communication. Even on the material level humanity could not survive without them. Food, drink, shelter — all that you need for your physical survival — depend on cooperation and communication,

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PL 82 The Conquest of Duality Symbolized in the Life and Death of Jesus

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A spiritual teaching, often misunderstood, says that one must rise above pleasure and pain. This is of course true in the ultimate sense. However, it cannot come about by flight from the unpleasantness of the duality. Instead, the transcendence of pleasure and pain happens only by accepting and fully facing the duality: life and death. Those who misunderstand the meaning of rising above pleasure and pain do so because they wish to avoid rather than go through those deep experiences.

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PL 84 Love, Power, Serenity as Divine Attribute and as Distortions

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The attitudes of submissiveness, aggressiveness, and withdrawal are the distortions of love, power, and serenity. I would now like to speak in detail about how they work in the psyche, how they form a supposed solution, and how the dominant attitude creates dogmatic, rigid standards that are then incorporated in the idealized self-image.

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PL 85 Distortions of the Instincts of Self-Preservation and Procreation

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The instinct of survival — or self-preservation — aims at gaining, maintaining, and improving life. By its very nature it works against anything that destroys or endangers life. Just as the body needs health to live, so the soul needs health to live most constructively. In order to live, one needs to be safe from destruction and damage.

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PL 86 The Instincts of Self-Preservation and Procreation in Conflict

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Growth, development, maturity and the healing of distorted soul forces lie in eliminating the pseudo-solution and replacing it with truth, which is always flexible and knows no rules. It alone can provide true security, although the personality going through the process feels acute insecurity and anxiety when called upon to give up the pseudo-solutions.

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PL 87 The Next Phase on the Path: Questions and Answers

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Some of you have wondered why at the beginning my talks were of a more spiritual nature, while lately the emphasis has been more psychological. Although you all realize by now that true spiritual development cannot occur without clearing up distorted emotions, your knowledge is still largely theoretical and not yet conducive to a true understanding.

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PL 89 Emotional Growth and Its Function

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But why is the emotional nature generally neglected? There are good reasons for that, my friends. To gain more clarity, let us first understand the function of the emotional nature in human beings. It includes, first of all, the capacity to feel. The capacity to experience feeling is synonymous with the capacity to give and receive happiness. To the degree you shy away from any kind of emotional experience, to that extent you also close the door to the experience of happiness.

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PL 90 Moralizing—Disproportionate Reactions—Needs

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Once you stop repressing your emotions, you will find not only definite individual negative emotions, such as hostility, resentment, aggressiveness, and envy, but also certain psychological conditions. It is important to recognize their existence and their significance. Are they real? Are they mature? When you ask these questions, you will understand how they breed the negative emotions about which, consciously or unconsciously, you feel so guilty.

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PL 91 Questions and Answers

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QUESTION: In a previous lecture about emotional growth and its function, a question was asked as to how to handle very wild emotions at a time when one has no helper available. But what does one do if the emotions are so deep-seated, so deeply buried and repressed, for such a long time, that they simply will not come out to the degree one would like?

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PL 92 Repressed Needs—Relinquishing Blind Needs—Primary and Secondary Reactions

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Among the needs of the idealized self are, for instance, the need for glory, the need to triumph, the need to satisfy vanity or pride. In order to understand this particular process, you have to review how the idealized self-image came into existence.

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PL 93 The Link Between the Main Image, Repressed Needs, and Defenses

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The child in you resists growth, desires to remain immature, and is burdened with unworkable wrong conclusions and destructive defense mechanisms. Without the pseudo-solutions and defenses, a part of you believes itself lost and endangered. To let go of that which seems to you the very protection you seek causes the psyche to resist. Yet such states of struggle are not due entirely to the resistance to growth and change and to the fear of letting go of familiar, although defective, behavior patterns.

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PL 94 Sin and Neurosis—Unifying the Inner Split

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Now let us try to determine the difference between your genuine, true self and the superficial self. Whenever you act out of your real self, you are in complete unity with yourself. There is no doubt, no confusion, no anxiety, and no tension. You are not concerned with the appearance of your act in the eyes of others, or about principles or rules. You are concerned with the effect of your action on others and on yourself and with its consequences; and you choose this particular alternative because, even though you recognize its imperfections, it still seems better to you than another alternative. It corresponds to your innermost nature. This does not apply, of course, to destructive actions of a crass nature.

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PL 95 Self-Alienation and the Way Back to the Real Self

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Let us first understand the human struggle as such. The very state of being human is a problem because you find yourself in an in-between state. You have awakened from a lower state, a plant or animal form where you were in a state of being and in harmony, but without awareness. You have not yet reached a state of being in harmony with awareness. This in-between state is the human struggle, . . .

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PL 96 Questions and Answers and Additional Comments on Laziness as Symptom of Self-Alienation

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We discussed some of the symptoms of self-alienation such as: not relating to yourself and to others as you and they are in your true selves; not experiencing yourself in your true strength; not identifying with yourself and your deep inner reality but instead with the superimposed layers of your personality; relying on public opinion rather than on your own convictions, on pseudo-solutions and defense-mechanisms that you have laboriously built up over the course of years.

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PL 98 Wishful Daydreams

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From our vantage point, we see you barricading yourselves behind a wall of separateness. This wall is a useless and illusory form of self-protection. In the last analysis it is simply a barricade against happiness and freedom. So, my friends, realize for all time that the goal of dissolving your obstructions is to enable you to enter the great flow of the eternal current. The ultimate reason for living is to make your life meaningful, but without being merged into this current this cannot happen.

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PL 99 Falsified Impressions of Parents: Their Cause and Cure

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Once again, let us talk about love. Let us remember that anyone without love is withering away. The love you receive is not the most important, you need the love force in your heart; it is your spiritual life-blood. This is the driving force — in a good and healthy sense — that gives meaning to life. Without the love-capacity your life will be empty, meaningless, shallow.

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PL 100 Meeting the Pain of Destructive Patterns

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First, let us briefly recapitulate. To begin with, the child suffers from imperfections in the parents’ love and affection. It also suffers from not being fully accepted in its own individuality. By this I mean the common practice of treating a child as a child, rather than as a particular individual. You suffer from this, although you may never be aware of it in these terms or in exact thoughts. This may leave as much of a scar as the lack of love or attention. It causes as much frustration as the lack of love, or even cruelty.

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PL 101 The Defense

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When you are on the defensive, you are frightened; you feel threatened and endangered. There certainly are realistic dangers, and the human system is equipped to deal with them. If an actual attack is made on you, all your faculties will withdraw from their usual preoccupations and will be directed to and concentrated on this one danger. In order to deal with an urgent issue at the moment, you need all your faculties to focus on that one point.

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PL 103 Harm of too Much Love Giving—Constructive and Destructive Will Forces

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You have learned that it is very harmful to force yourself to feel love when you do not experience it. In such a case, the wrong kinds of will and love are used and therefore a negative result is produced. Yet you also know that if you do not give love, you cannot receive it. Therefore, consciously or unconsciously, you try to force it. You use your will to produce a feeling that as yet does not exist in you.

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PL 104 Intellect and Will as Tools or Hindrances of Self-Realization

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Your real self cannot be governed by will or by force. It is a direct manifestation, not of thought and will, but of a spontaneous, creative experience that comes into being unbidden, when least expected. This is very important to remember and to never keep out of sight.

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PL 105 Humanity’s Relationship to God in Various Stages of Development

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In your daily life many possibilities are offered to you to see yourself as you are; to verify what you really feel, rather than what you try to feel. All you have to do is to remind yourself constantly to be alert to this reality in you; to cultivate the awareness.

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PL 106 Sadness Versus Depression—Relationship

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Let us first define the difference. In sadness you accept without self-pity a painful fact of life as something beyond your power to change. When you are truly sad, without depression, you not only feel it as a healthy growing pain free of hopelessness, but you are sad due to an outer circumstance, knowing it is going to pass. There is no superimposition, no hiding, no shifting of emotions. In depression the outer circumstance may be the same, but your feelings of pain are, to quite an extent, due to other reasons than the outer occurrence.

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PL 107 Three Aspects That Prevent Loving

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Within each individual there exists a well of wisdom and love. It is a treasure deep within you which can come to the fore only as you become aware of all those aspects of yourself that bar access to the treasure. You are accustomed to look for truth, guidance, and solutions to your problems outside yourself — perhaps through wise teachings, through a helping hand. But the most reliable and realistic answers come from inside yourself. In order to tap the well, outside help is necessary, but it is valuable only if it succeeds in bring you to the inner source.

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PL 108 Fundamental Guilt for not Loving—Obligations

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. . . little and unjustified guilts substitute for the real guilt of withdrawal, unlovingness, and isolation. In other words, these little guilts are supposed to atone for violating the great cosmic inner forces, breaking the flow, as it were. This very deep-rooted guilt prevents you from claiming your freedom, asserting yourself, feeling that you deserve to be happy.

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PL 109 Spiritual and Emotional Health Through Restitution for Real Guilt

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The most difficult thing for a human being is to face the lower self, and it is in connection with the lower self that real guilt exists. You go to any length to avoid facing the lower self. Perhaps you are capable and willing to face parts of it, yet certain other parts you are absolutely unwilling to accept.

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PL 111 Soul Substance—Coping With Demands

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When a new child enters this earth, its soul-stuff is very malleable, very soft. Within this soul-stuff lie all the potentials — the talents, qualities, tendencies, characteristics, and also the unresolved problems. It is according to these potentials — positive, as well as negative — that the entity grows.

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PL 112 Humanitiy’s Relationship to Time

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Tonight I should like to discuss a new topic, humanity’s relationship to time. This is, indeed, an important subject. My words will be very helpful, if you take the trouble of pondering them and trying to apply them to yourself. What I will say may at first seem utterly inapplicable to your personal lives because of its abstract, philosophical and metaphysical nature.

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PL 113 Identification with the Self

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And now, my friends, I wish to discuss a topic I have not gone into before, identification with oneself, as opposed to identification with others. Last time I talked about humanity’s relationship to time. I said, in essence, that very rarely do people live in the now. They push into the future. They pull back into the past. Often these two contradictory movements happen simultaneously. In both alternatives, you strain away from the now.

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PL 114 Struggle: Healthy and Unhealthy

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People often say that life is difficult and painful, that it is a confusing and puzzling ordeal, that there is no meaning to it. They believe that they are separate from life, but they are not! Regardless of how your life appears, it is an exact facsimile of how you experience yourself. Your personal life, as it manifests for you, is a conglomeration of all your attitudes and traits.

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PL 115 Perceptions, Determination, Love as Aspects of Consciousness

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Through your work of self-search, deeper levels of understanding are opened up, so that words of truth will directly reach those inner levels — or have at least a chance of doing so. It is therefore important to discuss the same subjects from different vantage points at specific phases of your pathwork. What you have heretofore understood in a shallow way will then be more profoundly comprehended. Always use your new understanding in conjunction with proper meditation. These lectures can be regarded as meditations.

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PL 116 Reaching the Spiritual Center—Struggle Between the Lower Self and the Superimposed Conscience

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In this final session of the year, I would like to restate certain facets and goals of this path of self-realization. When you live unto the day without understanding the relationship between you and your life, you must be in despair. Whether or not you know it, you go through life searching for the answer. Only too often you seek the answer outside of yourself; and there, as you know, it can never be found.

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PL 117 Shame: A Legacy of Childhood Experiences, Even Favorable Ones

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When you pursue this path, you discover certain areas in yourself that you are ashamed to acknowledge, even to yourself. What you may be ashamed of may be faults, but not always and not necessarily. You may be as ashamed of very legitimate needs as you are of faults, or of assets, for that matter. First you are not even aware that such shames exist. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort before you become aware of those facets within yourself you are deeply ashamed to face. You cover these facets with a pretense that is the reverse of your specific shame.

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PL 118 Duality Through Illusion—Transference

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Many manifestations of your earth life symbolize duality because so many things appear as pairs of opposites. In philosophical thinking, humankind itself is paired — man and woman, night and day, life and death. These are but a few examples of how life on earth presents itself in two-way splits. Humankind thus expresses a twofold split that manifests in many other ways, . . . .

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PL 119 Movement, Consciousness, Experience: Pleasure, the Essence of Life

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A long time ago, I gave a lecture about the life force. Let us look into this again with the greater understanding you have gained. The life force is a free-flowing energy current, manifest in the entire universe. Wherever an organization fulfills certain essential conditions, it tunes into the life force. The life force permeates and revitalizes it. It lives. A living organism comes into existence.

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PL 120 The Individual and Humanity

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. . . . This will give you greater understanding and a wider vision of the relationship between the individual and the totality of all individuals. It will enable you to visualize that humanity as a whole is an entity, governed by the same laws as the individual who is a part of the bigger body — humankind. There are aspects within the individual that you do not fully understand and therefore cannot control, thereby destroying union, peace and integration of the personality. This also applies to humankind as a whole.

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PL 121 Displacement, Substitution, Superimposition

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As you know from my previous talks, each emotion, each feeling, each thought, each attitude, each need is an energy-current. There are many different types of energy, corresponding to the type of feeling or need. The integrated individual with a full rich life expresses a variety of needs and feelings — not just a few.

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PL 122 Self-Fulfillment Through Self-Realization as Man or Woman

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All who fulfill themselves contribute something to life. They enrich life not merely by using their vocational abilities but also through their ability to relate to other human beings and have fruitful contacts with them. As self-development proceeds, barriers fall; fear of others, and fear of oneself in connection with others vanishes, and therefore true relatedness becomes possible.

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PL 123 Liberation and Peace by Overcoming Fear of the Unknown

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To the degree you are unaware of what goes on within you, you will fear the passing of time and the “great unknown.” When one is young, these fears may be assuaged. But sooner or later every human being will be confronted more directly with the fear of death. I want to emphasize it again: to the degree that you know yourself, you fulfill your life, yourself, your dormant potential. And to that degree death will not be feared but experienced as an organic development. The unknown will no longer pose a threat.

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PL 129 Winner Versus Loser: Interplay Between the Self and Creative Forces

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When two people involved in a relationship have adopted opposing choices, the relationship must be fraught with friction to the point of hopelessness. Each resents in the other what he or she fears and fights in himself. The “winner” fears impulses of genuine affection as much as fearing weakness and desire for dependency. The loser fears . . .

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PL 130 Finding True Abundance by Going Through Your Fear

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There are two philosophies about life and spiritual reality which seem completely contradictory. One says that the spiritually and emotionally mature person has to learn to accept the difficulties in life. In order to cope with life, people have to accept what they cannot immediately change, what is beyond their direct sphere of influence.

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PL 131 Interaction Between Expression and Impression

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We have, in our pathwork, two fundamental approaches, both of which are necessary. One is finding, expressing, and emptying out what is within you, so that it can be reexamined as to its truthfulness and reality. The second is impressing, molding and directing the powers within yourself, so as to create favorable, or more variable, circumstances.

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PL 132 The Function of the Ego in Relationship to the Real Self

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First I wish to discuss how the inner self differs from the outer self, or the real self from the ego. What is their relationship to each other? There are many confusing theories about the function of the ego. According to some the ego is essentially negative and undesirable and the spiritual goal is to get rid of it.

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PL 133 Love: Not a Commandment, But Spontaneous Soul Movement of the Inner Self

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Let us look deeper into the topic of love now. In this way we can come a step closer to obtaining the greatest of all keys to the true life — not by following forced, artificial, superimposed commands from the intellect, but the spontaneous inner activity of the heart.

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PL 134 The Concept of Evil

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Numbness and insensitivity toward one’s own pain in turn means equal numbness and insensitivity toward others. When examining one’s reactions closely, one might often observe that the first spontaneous reaction to others is a feeling for and with them, a compassion or empathy, a participation of the soul.

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PL 135 Mobility in Relaxation—Suffering Through Attachment of the Life Force to Negative Situations

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This cosmic movement, permeating everything that is, is a mixture of mobility and relaxation. The key of mobility, combined with relaxation, opens the world. It is the state of being, or the unitive principle of being. Only through misconception does duality, or conflict, come about.

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PL 136 The Illusory Fear of the Self

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The fear of the self is the basic fear behind the fear of life and even the fear of death. Neither could the fear of others possibly exist without the fear of oneself. A number of my friends are now approaching the point where the “big lie” of the mask and the pretense must be given up. A battle rages in the face of this decision. It is exceedingly important now to discuss where your fear of self comes from and what it does to you if it is coddled instead of overcome.

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PL 138 The Human Predicament of Desire for, and Fear of, Closeness

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Your relationship to another person can be successful only when you are motivated by your innermost being. If the relationship is determined solely by the outer intellect and will, these faculties cannot find the delicate balance of allowing your self-expression and also receiving the other’s self-expression.

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PL 139 Deadening of the Live Center Through Misinterpretation of Reality

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Whenever you find yourself in a situation that is not desirable, that leaves you unfulfilled in any way, your usually vague discontent causes you to strive for another situation. A clear-cut goal-directedness and precise concept of a better way of life can succeed only when the present situation, with its lack, is totally understood. Striving toward a different situation when the present situation is not fully understood must result in failure and frustration.

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PL 140 Conflict of Positive Versus Negative Oriented Pleasure as the Origin of Pain

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The principle I explain here holds true on all levels. It is indeed ascertainable on the physical level. The physical system, like all other systems or planes, also strives toward wholeness and health. When a disturbing force pulls in an opposite direction, the pull of the two directions creates the pain. You can tell that this is what actually causes the pain because when the struggle is given up and the individual lets go and gives in to the pain, the pain stops.

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PL 142 The Longing for and the Fear of Happiness—Also, the Fear of Releasing the Little Ego

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To properly let go a healthy, balanced ego is needed, not indoctrinated with false concepts, false fears, and destructive attitudes. Only then can the ego give up the direct, over-tight control with the outer will, which then becomes possible and actually desirable.

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PL 144 The Process and Significance of Growing

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We were discussing the unitive and the dualistic principles. Human consciousness, perception, and experience are generally geared to the dualistic principle. This means that everything is perceived in opposites — good or bad, desirable or undesirable, life or death. As long as humanity lives in this dualism, conflict and unhappiness must persist.

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PL 146 The Positive Concept of Life—Fearlessness to Love—the Balance Between Activity and Passivity

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In the last lecture I discussed the necessity of transforming faults of character. The first step toward this transformation is always awareness of the faults. This is not easy, but not difficult either, if approached with the proper attitude. Once you are aware of your specific faults, the next step is to understand the reason for their existence, and why you cling to them.

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PL 148 Positivity and Negativity: One Energy Current

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It is not easy to reach an awareness where you can see yourself think, feel, and act destructively; where you are furthermore aware that this causes you misery, and yet are unable and unwilling to give up this way of being. It is a great measure of success, if this word can be used, to be aware of being in this state. But to accomplish the second part of this phase of your evolution, namely the letting go of destructiveness, the nature of destructiveness must be better understood.

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PL 149 Cosmic Pull Toward Union—Frustration

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The life force therefore consists not only of the pull toward others, but also of pleasure supreme. Life and pleasure are one. Lack of pleasure is the distortion of the life force and comes from opposing the creative principle. Life, pleasure, contact and oneness with others are the goal of the cosmic plan.

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PL 150 Self-Liking: The Condition for Universal State of Bliss

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The universe is so constituted that each individual creature is capable of being in a constant state of bliss. Bliss is not just a theoretical possibility: it is humanity’s natural state of being. It is the natural law. An individual who is not in a state of bliss is in an unnatural, disturbed condition. It is important for you, my friends, to grasp and appreciate this fact.

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PL 154 Pulsation of Consciousness

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Let me briefly enumerate certain basic aspects about pulsation. Everything that lives must pulsate, as it must breathe and move. Therefore pulsation and breathing are interrelated. The movement of life is contained in both. The movement is involuntary and occurs in rhythmic intervals, provided the organism is healthy, harmonious and undisturbed.

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PL 155 Fear of Self—Giving and Receiving

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In order to become what you truly are, the fundamental prerequisite is fearlessness. Overcoming fear of self is the key. Every kind of fear amounts, in the last analysis, to fear of self; for if there were no fear of your innermost self, you could not possibly fear anything in life. In fact, you could not even fear death.

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PL 156 Questions and Answers

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On your path, you begin to come face to face with your images. That is, you begin to feel how you emotionally react according to them, you experience their reality, you connect with them, as opposed to before, when this was not the case. Certain emotional experiences come out from the depths of your being, but it is just the beginning.

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PL 157 Infinite Possibilities of Experience Hindered by Emotional Dependency

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When one speaks about God’s infinity or about Creation’s infinity, this is part of the meaning. There is no state of being, no experience, no situation, no concept, no feeling, no object that does not already exist. Everything in the world exists in a state of potentiality which already contains the finished product within it.

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PL 158 The Ego’s Cooperation With or Obstruction of the Real Self

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The moment you transcend dualism, two opposite and apparently mutually exclusive aspects become equally true. This applies to the ego in relation to the real self. It is true when one says the ego’s predominance, its exaggerated strength, is the greatest hindrance to productive living. And it is equally true when one says a weak ego is incapable of establishing healthy living.

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PL 159 Life Manifestations Reflects Dualistic Illusion

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One of the great difficulties in life is the inevitable downward curve in all growth process. Life is growth, and growth is a continuum of movement that goes in a fluctuating line. Each down brings a new up; each up must bring a new down in order to go up again. There can be no upward movement unless there is first a downward one. Thus, there can be no life unless it has gone through a form of death.

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PL 160 Conciliation of the Inner Split

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A very deliberate, yet relaxed attempt must be made to feel the underlying causes of the outer results in your life. All sorrow and unhappiness, all emptiness and unfulfillment, all frustration and suffering are caused by being disconnected — as you know and I so often say — from the causes within yourself.

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PL 161 Unconscious Negativity Endangers Surrender of Ego to Involuntary Processes

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There are various states and processes in material life which afford humans the possibility of replenishing themselves from the universal source. One of the most automatic, generally accessible of these states is sleep. Human beings who are deeply troubled are so because they are too enmeshed in their ego. Insomnia occurs precisely because the ego is too predominant and the involuntary forces of life cannot take over.

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PL 162 Three Levels of Reality for Inner Guidance

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A person cut off from inner reality is indeed lost. The majority of humans are almost totally cut off from their inner reality and must therefore find their way back to it. The few who have attained this connection always were and will be the spiritual leaders of humankind. Every effort on this path is aimed at reestablishing such a connection for inner guidance, for the manifestation of the inner reality.

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PL 163 Mind Activity and Mind Receptivity

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There are two powerful forces or attitudes in the universe and therefore in each human personality. One is the force that is striving, moving, acting, initiating, activating, doing. This aspect includes self-responsibility, independence, autonomy, free choice, and the power of the self. The other is being receptive to and waiting for whatever is to happen. This aspect includes patience, humility, the awareness of interdependence and of being a part of a whole. It has trust in the processes of the greater life. The former involves direct action, the latter means waiting for growth and indirect manifestation, which takes place in its own way and according to its own laws.

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PL 164 Further Aspects of Polarity—Selfishness

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It is, of course, quite true that if people were entirely in harmony with the universal forces, they would not be sick, neurotic, unhappy. But it is equally true that sickness, discontent and disharmony are an indication of health. For it is precisely your real self, your spirit being, which speaks through the unhappiness, sending the conscious ego a message that something should be different.

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PL 165 Evolutionary Phases in the Relationship Between the Realms of Feelings, Reason, and Will

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The function of this path is not to remove a bothersome symptom in a person’s life. This is not a treatment of sickness. Nor is the path simply a way of becoming a better person, of developing spiritually. All this happens, of course. But it must be fully understood by all of you, no matter how far you decide to follow it, that the aim of the path is the total realization of the divine kernel.

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PL 168 Two Basic Ways of Life: Toward and Away From the Center

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In the very center of the human personality exists a potent, white-glowing mass of energy. It is a constant fire that continually bubbles and explodes within itself. Each tiny explosion multiplies the mass expelling kernels of the same substance and energy. When this fundamental creative process is unobstructed and harmonious, the endless continuum of energy spreads and floods over with joy and well-being. The constant flow spreads and spreads and yet is contained within itself. There is no chaos in this process.

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PL 170 Fear of Bliss Versus Longing for It—The Energy Centers

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Every human being has this apparently nonsensical fear to some degree. Even though it makes no sense, it nevertheless exists. Coexisting with your fear is an inherent longing for your true birthright, which is a state of supreme bliss, sublime joy, quite indescribable in human language.

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