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

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 55 | September 11, 1959

Greetings!  God bless all of you, my dearest friends, blessed is this hour. With great joy we resume our work together in this coming season. Let me express the hope that all my dear friends will continue in their endeavors. If you do, you cannot help but reap the fruits by losing the inner burden that you still may carry within yourself. It is my task to bring you special blessings, a special strength for the year to come, so that you may find the energy to overcome all possible resistance to your development and can make the best of each phase, whatever it may be.

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.

I will discuss these principles from the psychological point of view, so that in your work you can benefit from this knowledge.

Let us now consider these principles separately in their positive, as well as in their negative aspects. The principle of expansion in its pure and harmonious form manifests as creativity, growth, building, forward movement, search, activity, the outgoing quality necessary to find the “other you” — therefore as unselfishness and lack of egocentricity, as search for union or for anything outside the self. Needless to say that I list just a few aspects in each category. You can surely enlarge on it.

In its negative aspect, the principle of expansion manifests as aggression, war, on the material level, and on the psychological level as hostility, overactivity, quarreling, destructiveness, cruelty, impatience, thoughtlessness.

The principle of restriction in its positive aspect means equilibrium, balance — for it is this principle that balances the expansion and thus creates harmony, preventing the outgoing movement from getting out of control. It represents introspection, inward movement, caution, patience, thoughtfulness. It also represents self-search, in contrast to the search for the “other you” that characterizes the principle of expansion. You all know that you cannot truly find and understand the soul of another person unless you understand yourself. You can never really penetrate the wall separating you from your fellow-creatures before you have penetrated the wall that separates you from your innermost self. Thus you can see how the principles of expansion and restriction have to work in harmony and complement one another so that more harmony can be created in the soul. To grow out of the confining walls of your ego, so that expansion can be harmonious and healthy, you have to find and make use of the introspective quality in you — and use it properly. If the outgoing force is unrestricted, even if it is used in a constructive way, growth cannot occur harmoniously. All healthy growth is organic, slow and steady. Here the principle of restriction is at work. Unchecked growth cannot be assimilated, and is, therefore, more harmful than constructive. So the principle of restriction also stands for assimilation. Unassimilated growth must, eventually, turn harmful. Only assimilated, step-by-step growth is organic, healthful and constructive. If the outgoing person does not learn to cultivate the restricting forces, he or she will never really succeed in finding what he searches for. The expanding forces must turn destructive, unless the other two principles are at work as well.

In its negative sense, the principle of restriction stands for regression, going backward instead of forward, holding up progress, going in the wrong direction; it stands for dishonesty, hypocrisy, cowardice, avarice, selfishness, egocentricity, separateness.

The static principle in its positive aspect stands for preservation. At first sight it may seem the same as the restricting principle, but it is not. The restrictive principle is movement — inward or backward — while the static principle is rest, the state of being, timelessness, passivity in the healthy sense. Healthy growth occurs in three distinct stages:  outward movement — search for the other, putting the ego behind; inward movement — searching for the self, assimilating all that has been absorbed by the outward movement and applying it properly to the self; and rest, preservation — gathering of new momentum for the preparation of the new cycle. The static principle is essential to the rhythm of progress. Without it fruition cannot take place. If you observe the growth of plants, you will notice this same threefold rhythm. Try to become aware of this ever-recurring cycle.

The static principle in its negative aspect manifests as stagnation, putrefaction, lifelessness, inertia.

It is important to realize that every soul is governed by these three principles. All created beings in the entire universe are influenced by it. All three principles must work together in the harmonious person. They must sustain, complement, and further one another. In the disharmonious person, the three principles will be at war with one another; they will be in contradiction.

Each created being is governed predominantly by one of these principles. But that does not mean that in perfection you represent only one of them to the exclusion of the other two. That cannot be. Although each perfectly created being has as its basic characteristic one of these principles, the other two must be harmoniously blended to sustain, help, and further one another.

To the degree that the entity deviates from divine harmony, the three principles will clash, will contradict one another. They will not be understood properly, will be misapplied by overemphasis on one, so that the other two are unduly neglected and not cultivated enough while the one overemphasized is not used entirely constructively, but unwittingly also in a destructive way. Not being aware of what your true personality is in this respect, you may cause further harm to your self by suppressing its true nature. You may have an unconscious misconception that your true nature — representing one of the three principles — is “bad,” so that you neglect to cultivate and purify that in you which is strongest. Consequently the divine principle you should manifest is left to fester. It is not enough that forces which should be put to constructive use are inverted by suppression and therefore affect you adversely, but meanwhile you also overcultivate another part in you that would need no further emphasis. In less severe cases, you overemphasize that which you truly are, while you neglect to cultivate the other forces that need encouragement to grow and blend harmoniously with your particular main strength.

If you consider your self-work from the point of view of these three cosmic principles, new vistas must open up to you and clarify further who you are and what you are. You will understand yourself — and therefore others — better by finding out whether you overemphasize that in you which is predominant at the expense of the other two forces that need cultivation and purification. It is even possible that both distortions occur to some degree in one and the same person. On the one hand you may suppress your predominant nature, on the other you may overemphasize it. Both decisions happen unconsciously out of your wrong conclusions. So find out where you deviate from these three principles in their perfect form; in what way and why does this happen. What misconceptions are responsible for it?  This outlook should help you a great deal, my friends. It might also give rise to new questions which I will be happy to answer.

These days humanity is quite familiar with two of the principles, the expanding and restricting, though perhaps calling them by different names. But the third principle is not often recognized. It is also generally ignored that all three principles should blend together and be interdependent.

The importance of the static principle is of particular significance. In its positive aspect it represents the ultimate goal, the highest stage one can reach:  the state of being, of timelessness, and motion in motionlessness. It is the final stage of evolution. Yet the static principle in its negative aspect is the most hindering for human development. This fact should lend itself for interesting speculation and meditation, my friends. For where stagnation exists, progress cannot occur. Thus, backward movement — the principle of restriction in its negative aspect — is better than no movement. Because if you move backward long enough, you must come to a point when you finally realize that the direction you have taken is wrong and bitter and dark. Therefore you will have the incentive to turn around. In any kind of motion or movement, things change. If they change for the worse, this very fact will make you desire to change your direction, even though you may find yourself in a depressive state. Besides, the very momentum of your motion, wrong as it has been so far, will make it easier to keep on moving and turn to the right direction. But in the negative static state, in stagnation, there is no movement. Without movement, there can be no progress and no growth. Since you have conditioned yourself to be motionless, it is extremely difficult to summon the strength to set yourself in motion. And you may not even realize the necessity for it because in that state everything seems hopeless; you are under the impression that nothing changes and nothing can ever change because you stand still. In your predicament you remain under the wrong impression that no change is possible.

Of course, no human being is in the static state with all the facets of his or her personality. Some are static to a strong degree, but others are in the static state only with a part of their personality, manifesting particularly strongly at certain times only. It is up to you to find out how all this applies to you. Do not expect that anything would apply completely to one person.

QUESTION:  I understand that these three principles exist in varying degrees in everybody. But I would like to know if any necessary connection between the three exists, such as the degree and direction of the expansive and a certain degree and direction of the restrictive principle. Do they combine and produce a certain degree and direction of the static?

ANSWER:  You mean that one influences the other?  [Yes.]  Nothing in the human soul is separate. Every quality, reaction, attitude, or tendency must invariably influence everything else in the soul, sometimes more directly and obviously than at other times, when the connection is more indirect and subtle and not so easily noticeable. You have found that out already in the work you are doing.

As I said, these three principles are interdependent. If there is deviation from the proper working of one principle, the other two will be influenced. Let us say, your overemphasis is on the principle of expansion, which works both positively and negatively in you. The overemphasis causes a negative effect, a deviation in the expansive principle. The effect must also show up in the working of the other two, where in this respect a neglect and underdevelopment — and therefore deviation in another sense — occurs.

Everything is connected by the law of cause and effect. Take a photograph:  on the negative the objects are black and the background is white, while on the print it is the other way around. Perhaps this analogy will give you the idea. At any rate, as a result of your self-search, the more you progress, the more you find out how one thing causes and influences another. What was first a mass of isolated information about yourself begins to tie in with all the rest, so that you gain one overall, comprehensive picture. This has to be experienced; it cannot be conveyed in words.

As a demonstration of how these principles are misunderstood, I would like to give an example that is typical. Many people say:  “By constantly thinking about myself I become selfish. It is better to think of other people instead of concentrating so much on myself.”  It is true that there are people who think too much of themselves, who are egocentric. They do not ever think of others and only concern themselves with their own problems. This wrong attitude, as well as the quoted objection are both an expression of the misunderstood and misapplied principle of restriction or introspection. Correctly understood, the purpose of introspection is the to break the wall between the self and others.

By the same token, if a person says:  “By being so extroverted, I neglect my own spiritual nature. One cannot and should not live so much on the surface, in the outer world. To find God, I have to retire from the outer world and lead an inner life,” this attitude shows the same distortion. It is true that no introspection and an over-emphasis on the outgoing quality hinders progress. This imbalance, as well as the objection, is an expression of the misunderstood and misapplied principles we discussed.

A further proof of ignorance of these cosmic principles is that Eastern teachings are often misunderstood in the following way:  People who have heard something about Nirvana, the state of Being, often try to attain this state forcefully, long before they can possibly be ready for it. Such a person is, of course, unaware that he or she unconsciously encourages a tendency to stagnate, which is hidden underneath the good motives. Again, this misinterpretation shows ignorance and a misunderstanding of the necessity of blending the three principles, if harmony is to be reached and the real state of Being finally attained. But this cannot happen by forceful means and special exercises. It is the product of the labor of development.

QUESTION:  Can it be possible that a person has a relatively healthy expansive and relatively healthy restrictive principle and yet a comparatively unhealthy static one?

ANSWER:  Then the word “relative” would have to be very flexible. Because it is impossible that a great degree of deviation exists in one respect and a minimum degree in another. But it is true that the degree of deviation may be stronger in one respect than in the other due to the basic characteristics of the person.

QUESTION:  But there would still be a certain connection between the three principles?

ANSWER:  Oh, absolutely. You will find when you apply what I am teaching that there must always be a parallel. In other words, when you deviate in one way, you may find exactly the opposite deviation in the other way. In a mirror, your right side is on the left, and vice versa. Or think again of the analogy of the photograph. I know this is hard to grasp. Incidentally, do not try to force this new knowledge into your work. Remain aware of it, think about it. Knowledge has to grow naturally, never forcefully. Cultivation of the awareness without pressure will eventually make this knowledge really yours. Then you will verify what I am trying to convey to you.

QUESTION:  Since these principles have to permeate the religious mythology too, in what way is it expressed in the trinity of different religions?  For instance the Brahmic Trinity or the Christian Trinity?

ANSWER:  It cannot be said that the symbol of the trinity only represents these three principles. Many of the universal and cosmic principles come in threes. Hence “three” stands for many things. Furthermore, let it be understood that as far as the three principles we discussed tonight are concerned the perfect representation of each does not mean that the others are absent. Each represents one harmonious whole, although with a harmonious predominance of one.

Let us take the example of man and woman; when they finally merge into one being, in the final state, that does not mean that while they are separated the male is exclusively male, and the female entirely female. As you know very well, in each female the male is represented and in each male the female. In the harmonious person, both are integrated; the male and female qualities do not battle with one another, but sustain, complement, and help one another. None is ousted. Only the deviation or overemphasis is smoothed out. Certainly there is a predominance of one, but not to the exclusion of the other. It is exactly the same with the three principles. Therefore, each part of the Trinity represents all three with a predominance of one. Which principle is represented in each part of the Trinity should be easy enough to find out for you.

QUESTION:  Well, the Father principle in the Creation is clearly expressed. It is said in the Gnostic teachings that in the Father we are born, in the Son we die. In other words, it is a certain restriction represented in the Christ principle.

ANSWER:  Quite right. The Father is the Creator, therefore stands for the principle of expansion. The Son has come to earth. He has been incarnated. Incarnation is restriction, an apparent going back, although for the good purpose of going forward. While the Holy Ghost represents the static principle, the state of being.

QUESTIONER:  Yes, it is the equilibrium. At the same time it is the reunion.

ANSWER:  Exactly, certainly.

QUESTION:  Now, one more question, please, with regard to breathing. Is the exhalation the natural restriction?

ANSWER:  Exhalation is expansion; inhalation is restriction — backward movement. And then there is — which is again so often ignored and forgotten — the third principle:  the moment in which you hold.

QUESTIONER:  That is done in the yoga exercises. The holding is the most important.

ANSWER:  Exactly. But not only in particular exercises. Even in normal breathing, when you are completely unaware of it, this moment, representing the third principle, is the most important part of breathing. It does not make any difference that this moment is short, but it is that element which gives rhythm and harmony to the breathing. And when any kind of a trance occurs, be it a mediumistic one or any other kind, it happens through the holding and non-breathing part that must be extended to accomplish a trance.

This same threefold rhythm is in the whole universe. It must eventually be found in your inner growth. When you make an effort to go forward, to use your energy, to search for truth, that is expansion. And when the necessary time comes to assimilate what you have learned and apply it to yourself, when you search within yourself, that is restriction. You cannot develop without both outgoing and ingoing movement and assimilating the two.

To speak practically, you cannot develop by living alone, without the world bringing out in you what needs to be changed. Without outer help, these elements would remain dormant in you and you would thus ignore what you really are, in part at least. Without going outward, no material would be given to you to point in the direction of the inner disharmonies. And then comes the time of fruition when you actually do not seem to go anywhere. These periods will depress you in the beginning. They will be the times of heaviness and apparent hopelessness. The further you are advanced, the more you know yourself and have properly assimilated and come to terms with the knowledge you have gained, the happier the times of fruition will be for you until the next period of effort and outgoing movement is to start again. But you will not be called upon to make the decision yourself when to change from one phase into the other. Your personality will have found its own cosmic rhythm, following the stream quite naturally. You will then be aware of this rhythm and follow it without compulsion and without resistance.

QUESTION:  There is so much discussion, speculation and investigation by scientists whether or not the universe is physically expanding and contracting or static. Is there an answer to that?

ANSWER:  It is constantly in movement. But rhythmic and harmonious movement contains motionlessness, like that instant in breathing when you do not breathe in order to do so rhythmically. The different schools of thought have just perceived one aspect of the universe, ignoring the other. The truth is that the universe is expanding, contracting, and static. The same applies even to inanimate objects. They only appear to be static, but they are not, as your nuclear physicists will confirm.

I have told you many times that everything in creation is in constant movement. This may seem to contradict the statement that the highest form of existence, the state of being, is static and therefore apparently without motion. It is no contradiction, my friends, although I realize it is extremely difficult for you to understand. In the highest realm, constant movement in all directions exists simultaneously with the static state. There is no movement in movement. And there is movement in no movement. This may sound utterly paradoxical according to human logic, but I cannot explain it any further.  This, too, can only be understood by experience.

QUESTION:  Is the static sort of halfway in-between expansion and restriction?

ANSWER:  Such terms as “halfway in-between” cannot be applied here. It is a philosophical concept. It is a principle or a part of a threefold principle, where one rhythmically and naturally follows the other. If you imagine it as a cycle, a circular motion, you will come closer to the truth. In a circle there is no beginning and no end. One is an integral part of the other.

QUESTION:  I wonder if you can clarify to some extent the connection or the disassociation between the subconscious and intuition?

ANSWER:  If you distinguish intuition from insight, we might say that it is the highest form. Intuition is never wrong. An instinct can be wrong. It can be harmful, it can come from the lower nature of the personality. Intuition comes from the superconscious, if you want to be technical about it. Intuition has the further distinction of being conscious. The moment it is intuition, it must be conscious, while an instinct may remain unconscious. It may be an urge, an impulse that is not formulated and of which one is unaware. An intuition must be conscious, otherwise it would not be an intuition. It is a message from the superconscious into consciousness. Subconscious forces help to bring it about. The subconscious direction you are taking as a whole influences you to be able to have certain intuitions.

QUESTION:  May I ask a question, although I don’t think it is permissible. Science is now agreed that in the millions of Milky Ways and in the billions of stars there must be life similar to our own planet. If this is so, does the Fall and subsequent Plan of Salvation hold true for other…

ANSWER:  Of course. It is one whole. The Plan of Salvation includes the entire creation. The earth sphere is but one part of it. Whether or not you find life in the same or similar forms on other planets has nothing to do with it. Even if the outer form of life is similar — although it is not exactly the same, but that is beside the point — the purpose and the stage of development in each sphere is a different one.

QUESTION:  There are no other planets in those millions of planets which have the same life as we here?

ANSWER:  Not exactly the same. Conditions are adapted to need and each sphere has a different need for development in a different area of the personality.

QUESTION:  May I ask about the difference and distinction of obligation as against gratitude?  I mean that apart from the element of freedom and compulsion.

ANSWER:  Gratitude has nothing to do with obligation. Now I do not speak of compulsion either. If you make a contract with a person, then due to that contract you are obligated to fulfill certain conditions. This is your obligation. It has nothing to do with gratitude on either side.

QUESTIONER:  I don’t mean it that way. I mean it in the way that there are people who feel, if they get any favor, obligated instead of grateful.

ANSWER:  In that moment either a compulsive element, or any other number of sick or deviated reactions must exist. In a case like this, one must look deeper to find the reasons. For instance, there are people who cannot receive. They may be capable of giving, but when it comes to receiving, they feel humiliated — therefore often unduly obligated. Yet, there is not necessarily a compulsion there — not in the strict sense of the word. That would be using a label, and we must try to stay away from any labels, but rather dig out what goes on underneath.

Find out why the person feels that way. Where is the misconception?  There must be a wrong conclusion somewhere. You will probably find the wrong conclusion that “to receive means to be humiliated.”  But find out further why?  What brought this misconception into existence, what led to it?  That will show where the obstruction lies and therefore how it can be dissolved. It is not necessarily a compulsion, but even if it is, it is not enough to know that. Any word can become a label if it is supposed to furnish the final answer, whether it is the word “pride” or “compulsion” or whatever it may be. It is dangerous to just call it by some name and then let it go at that. That will never get you any further. The person still cannot help it. The way, the only way in cases like this, is to find where the misconception is, the wrong idea. There must be one.

Tonight, on this first occasion of our reunion, many of our spirit friends are here to bless you, each of you individually and all our friends who are away, with the strength of truth, so that you will find the way out of your distortions and confusions where they stand directly in your way, for the moment at least. The rest can follow later. Receive this divine strength of truth and clarity of vision. Let this blessing be particularly dedicated for this purpose. And so I bless you in the name of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, in the name of the holy spirit world. Be in peace, be in God!