At the beginning of one’s path, one is aware only of what one consciously desires, wishes, wants, wills, intends, longs for. The person is convinced that their lack of fulfillment is a result of ill luck, or is someone else’s fault. It takes time and growth to experience the truth of life, that there must be something at work within the person that thwarts fulfillment.
In this dualistic approach you become split within yourself, for you reject a whole part of yourself that is the source of essential, potent creative energy without which you can never be a full human being. Your sense of awareness dims as you repress the undesirable part of yourself. The less aware you are, the weaker you become, and therefore more confused and less able to solve this, or any other problem.
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. Other theories,
Let us recapitulate certain aspects of the life force. The life force is profoundly intelligent. Its intelligence is always available, always present and ready to be applied not only to great, important issues; this super-intelligence “deigns” to express itself . . .
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.
. . . 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.
There are many indications of true selfhood. Take for instance the capacity to experience and to give joy. You cannot give joy if you are not a joyful person. How can you become joyful living in a very imperfect world?
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.
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.
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.
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. The child’s attitude toward authority is carried over into adult life. The often unconscious reactions to authority indicate whether this hurdle has become a stepping stone toward maturity or not. If the grown person can adjust to authority maturely and freely, another milestone has been reached in the overall development of the soul.
In the first place, we may again clarify that there is a distinct difference between self-will and free will. To make sure that you understand it clearly in this connection, I will repeat that free will can be used for good or for bad; this is important.
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. So you overlook the simple fact that first your ideas have to change before the vexing conditions have a chance to change too. Thus you find yourself at a certain crucial point on this path in a vicious circle: you wait for a change in your conditions, while the conditions wait for you to change your ideas.
Tonight I wish to speak about the influence between the spiritual and material worlds. Much has been said about the influence of the world of spirit on the world of matter, but not as much about the influence the other way around. For both affect each other.