Most human beings create an agitated mind, an inner and outer overactivity, because they are frightened that they may be empty, that there may be nothing within to sustain them. This thought is rarely conscious, but on a path such as this the time comes when you do become conscious of this fearful thought.
In this lecture I would like to discuss a very specific chain reaction—both in its natural, unhampered, and therefore positive manifestation, and in its distortion. In its positive, natural version, the links of this chain are the following: life’s basic abundance and generosity; its overwhelming “givingness”; humanity’s similar and hence compatible attitude; self-possession; the ability to deal realistically and constructively with frustration; being true to the issue, the self, the moment.
The experience of who you are now cannot be avoided. Only by learning to do this can you come to your life center. By the very act of self-acceptance, the unwelcome emotions and attitudes gradually dissolve. Even before that happens, all strife ends when you accept yourself.
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.
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.
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.
Having to choose between everyday alternatives that confront you often generates confusion. These alternatives are not crassly “good” or “bad”; they both stem from the same basic struggle in the human soul.
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.
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.
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.