The Sea of Life

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 1 | March 11, 1957


Greetings. I bring you God’s blessings, my dear ones.

From the wider perspective of the spirit, human life appears as a tableau representing the form and substance of earthly life as a sea, an ocean, on which each life is a boat. You often experience this analogy in dreams. The picture presents various aspects of life: the sea can be stormy, the sky grey, and then again the sun will shine and the waters be calm until the next storm comes along. And so it alternates until the journey reaches its destination. The destination is the firm land, the world of spirit, your true home. Thus all depends on how well you can direct your life.

One person is a trained, experienced, skillful captain and as such is not afraid of danger; he directs his little boat well through the elements, and in the calm and good periods gathers strength for the next storm. Another gets nervous and loses inner control when a storm is brewing. Yet another is so scared that in his extreme fear he does not steer his boat at all, but lets it drift through the storm of life—and thus does not gain anything. You are aware, of course, that the atmospheric disturbances, thunderstorms, the hurricanes, the clouds that gather, are the tests that life brings to you. Human beings who have already been through some spiritual schooling and are a little more sensitive can use their intuition to recognize where their little boat is at a particular time.

I would like to talk about the tests. There is hardly any group of people, be it a family or any other community, where at least one human soul will not be still so low in its development that that person becomes the plaything of the forces of darkness. This does not mean that he or she has to be an evil person. No, it is enough if such people do not accept the validity of certain spiritual laws in their lives, that they do not apply them to themselves, or that, in spite of certain very good qualities, they will not cultivate self-honesty. This alone is sufficient to become the plaything of the forces of darkness. The dark world takes its material from these currents, from the lack of self-discipline and self-awareness, from all the formations that manifest when a human being does not follow divine law.

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. However, it is not only this one person who furnishes the material for the confusions, but all the other people involved in the group contribute their share, which arises from their own mistakes and weaknesses in those areas where they violate spiritual law. Thus more of the same kind of yarn is spun, until truth is no longer discernible—at least not easily—even for those whose sight is already sharper, and often it takes a great deal of effort to find the truth at all.

For a person who strives toward a higher spiritual awareness it is often extremely difficult to know how to behave when such tests come along, for the dark forces know only too well how to make untruth appear as truth, truth as untruth, good as evil, evil as good. And so humans get confused—they who actually want so much to be in truth. They no longer know how to act in the right way. Often their own inner sick currents, of which they are unaware, contribute not only to darken the situation further, but also prevent them from perceiving it with clarity and thus from knowing how to deal with it.

In order to part the dark clouds and see the truth it is important for everyone to be schooled in spiritual awareness and, according to your level, undertake to develop yourself to your utmost capacity. Otherwise you too will, in a different way, again in unawareness, become a plaything of the forces of darkness, your boat will be blown hither and thither, and you will no longer be able to steer, or steer it as well as possible. Neither can you, when trying to see the truth and perceive the core of the problem, dissipate the heavy clouds by yourself.

You can know what to do or not to do to contribute your energy to the service of the good only when you go on a path such as this. Then you can learn the discipline to go into your inner stillness at any time—especially when the wild storms are raging—and make contact with God and His divine spirits. Then you can open yourself to the inspiration of truth by observing yourself with all your faults, conquering all resistance.

The spiritual laws can, and should, be made a living reality on three different levels—and the higher the person’s development, the deeper it is possible to penetrate into these levels. They are: Doing, thinking and feeling.

The most difficult task is on the emotional level. This is the highest level, because, first of all, many feelings are unconscious and you need work, willpower, and patience to make them conscious, and furthermore one cannot control one’s feelings as immediately and directly as one’s thoughts or actions. It requires laborious work on the spiritual level, self-analysis, and the thorough absorption of spiritual laws before the emotions can even begin to change.

The less developed a person is, the more superficial his or her understanding of and adherence to the spiritual laws must be. This is why God gave humankind first the Ten Commandments. They deal with actions. “Thou shalt not steal.”  “Thou shalt not lie,” and so on. This was already a lot to take in for the average person of that time, and still is for certain groups of people who are incarnated from lower spheres.

The next stage is to cultivate one’s thoughts. Quite often a person acts rightly, but the thoughts run another course; people act rightly because they comprehend that otherwise they would get into trouble with the outside world, but it is still difficult for them to control their thoughts, and they often desire things which are not in accord with the divine laws. They have not yet understood that the impure thoughts and feelings must lead them into the same conflict within themselves since all thoughts and feelings have a form and a substance in spirit and thus bring about outer effects and chain reactions, even though they are unable to perceive them as such right away. Such an overview requires a spiritual awareness that can come only through higher development. Thus Christ brought you an expanded understanding of the divine laws and commandments and taught that you can sin also in thought. At his time humanity was beginning to become ready for this expanded awareness and depth of perception. And today humanity begins to be receptive to an even deeper spiritual understanding.

People in the second stage, who are doing their utmost to work on the level of thoughts and are purifying them, are well ahead of those who have only reached the stage of keeping the laws to the extent of outer actions. But you, my dear friends, must learn to reach deeper than that and come to your real feelings, to those which remain so often in the unconscious, which are so readily covered up by pretexts, and about which it is so easy to deceive yourselves, so as not to have to look at what is really there. Such self-deception must inevitably bring you into conflict with yourself and often also with your environment; this is so, even if you refuse to acknowledge the true origin of the conflicts. It is difficult enough to purify one’s thoughts. Therefore, to have to recognize that many of your feelings still deviate quite a bit from your thoughts or conscious intentions is rather painful.

It is just this extra effort that God wants everybody to make. The last stage and deepening of consciousness is of course the most difficult to reach, this is the goal to which you all aspire: it is the true purification. Those who can bring their innermost feelings into their consciousness and are willing to recognize that these feelings do not always run parallel with what they have accepted as right in their thoughts, have already accomplished a great deal. If you work on this continuously until you slowly acquire mastery in it, you can penetrate not only into your own truth, but can then find, at times of trial, in difficult situations, the core of truth. Then you can scatter the clouds, then you can untangle the ball of threads, knot by knot. For only those who courageously face themselves again and again—and here vanity is an insurmountable obstacle—can gain true perspective of another human being or of any outer situation. Those who are blind to their own truth must be blind to the truth of others.

The knots and tangles are also spiritual forms which are a reality, my dear ones. We can always observe them around each group of people. Everybody adds his share to the tangle of threads, woven by the dark forces; and often one person contributes especially much to create tangles and achieve greater and greater confusion. But if there is one person in a group who takes the direct and spiritual high road, who truly confronts himself day by day, he or she is the one who will eventually—I repeat, not from one day to the next—succeed in loosening one knot after the other, until there are none left and everything becomes clear. Then the weak person will not be able to deceive himself any longer either, which anyway was most detrimental to himself and had burdened his progress. Of course, at first he will put up a resistance, because confusion feeds the lower self that prefers the road of least resistance and vanity, practices self-deception and thrives on discord. But, in the long run, even a weak person will feel liberated as the clouds disappear from his or her life. When truth illuminates with its clarity a previously obscure situation, there will be no more questions left as to what is the right attitude, what is just, and what is the right action.

Everybody has enough self-knowledge—or should strive to reach this point—to ask herself or himself, “What am I able to do to contribute my share to God’s Plan of Salvation?”  Many do not have as their task anything that would create public attention. But quietly, for their own sake, everybody can and should start to fulfill their part. For all have their tasks within the plan, even the weakest. For them it may suffice and perhaps mean the maximum of achievement to cast off a particular fault, to set something right with a fellow human being with whom they were incarnated for that purpose, to align their actions with God’s laws, and to refrain from giving in to their lowest instincts. More is required of others; of everyone always what is most difficult, what needs the greatest perseverance; all purify themselves and develop within the capacity of their level and strength.

For those who are more advanced in their development, this process of purification automatically leads to the ability to disentangle the knots in their surroundings and to clear up confused situations. Thus they accomplish something they were meant to do and contribute to God’s Plan of Salvation, in which each act of cooperation counts so much. And then further tasks will be found.

You human beings want to be happy, all of you, and of course we understand this. Without the yearning for happiness and perfection in the human soul, there would be no spiritual development. But there are only very few who ask, “What can I give?  What can I contribute to God’s Plan of Salvation?”  You are always demanding something, not necessarily in direct prayer for the fulfillment of this or that wish, but with your self-will, your feelings, and often even in your thinking. You want the best for yourself and are unhappy over the difficulties of life.

Have you ever asked God, “What can I do for you?”  For those who claim their own happiness as the ultimate goal—which is usually the case, even if you are not conscious of it—break the cycle of the living flow of energy which is the basis of everything that is spiritual. And the moment the cycle is interrupted, it is also dead. Let us suppose that a particular wish of yours has been granted. If the good you have received has its ultimate goal in yourself, it cannot remain alive in you, and therefore your happiness will be of short duration. Only those who keep the cycle actively flowing by being constantly conscious of and inspired by the desire to put to spiritual use and into the service of God’s Plan of Salvation all that they have received in help and grace, in happiness and fulfillment, in divine intervention and guidance, and act and feel accordingly, will also be able to sustain and keep alive their own happiness.

You can and should allow God to guide you, so that you can achieve this goal. A person who does this is indeed a participant in the divine order and his or her happiness will never become shallow, or dry out, or die, but will always be alive, pulsating, forever regenerating itself. And only a person with this kind of intentionality is worthy of special guidance and divine help.

Yes, my dear ones, few people think this way. They go to God and make wishes and demands, but they are not willing to give anything to God’s world, to the great struggle which is so crucial. Think about this, all of you. All who approach God in this way can be given more light and help to disentangle the knots and to have the strength to steer their little boat well, even through a storm, so that they come through it strengthened and enlightened, as is the will of God.