WHAT IS THE PATH?
Key Extracts from Lecture 204
© The Pathwork® Foundation 1999
First, I should like to say that this path is not new. It has existed, in many different forms, as long as mankind. The forms and the ways must change as mankind evolves. But the fundamental path remains the same… This brings us right to the whole question of what this path is. Let us first state what it is not. It is not psychotherapy although aspects of this pathwork must perforce deal with areas which psychotherapy also deals with. But I might say that in the framework of the path this is only a side issue, a getting through obstructions, so to speak. Dealing with confusions, inner misconceptions, misunderstandings, destructive attitudes, alienating defenses, negative emotions, paralyzed feelings – all this is essential, and all of this psychotherapy also attempts to do. However, while this is the ultimate goal of psychotherapy, the pathwork enters its most important phase only after this stage is over and done with, and that most important phase is, briefly, the learning of how to activate the greater consciousness dwelling within every human soul.
Nor is this path a spiritual practice that aims, a priori, at reaching spiritual consciousness. There are many methods and practices that attempt to attain realization of the spiritual self. However, many of them, though using valid methods to forcefully reach the goal, don't pay sufficient attention to those areas of the ego self which are steeped in negativity and destructiveness. Success thus achieved is always short-lived and really an illusion even though some of the experiences may be genuine enough. But this kind of spiritual state is not solid and cannot be maintained unless the total personality is included. Since man shies away from dealing with and accepting certain parts of himself, he often seeks refuge in pathways which promise that this can be done. If you think of a spiritual path as something that practices meditation for its own sake, for the sake of blissful cosmic experience and consciousness, then this path is not your way.
How can you gauge whether or not this untruthfulness on a deeper level exists? It is really extremely simple to do so. There is an infallible key which, if you choose to use it, will give you faultless answers. This key is how do you feel about yourself and about your life? How meaningful, fulfilled, and rich is your life? Do you feel secure with others? Do you feel comfortable about yourself, your most intimate self, in the presence of others or at least of some people with whom you have the same goal in common? How much joy are you capable of feeling, giving, and receiving? Are you plagued with resentments, anxiety, and tension, with loneliness and a sense of isolation? Do you need a lot of overactivity in order to alleviate anxiety?
Exhilaration, enthusiasm, joyousness, the unique blend of excitement and peace which connotes spiritual wholeness are a result of inner truthfulness. When these states are absent, then truthfulness must be absent. It is as simple as that, my friends. If you expect of this path, indeed demand of your life and therefore of any path you contemplate to enter, to by-pass feeling your anxiety; feeling your pain; owning up to your dishonesties, your cheating, your spitefulness, your games and more or less subtle pretension – which you do not wish to admit and for which you do not want to take responsibility – then you better not start on this path. But if you expect something realistic and are prepared to embark on the journey into yourself, to find, acknowledge, and bring out whatever it is; if you summon all your inner truthfulness and commitment to it, your courage and humility not to appear other than you are (even in your own eyes), then you have indeed every right to expect that this path will help you realize your full life, fulfill your longing in every conceivable way. This is then a realistic hope. You will increasingly know this to be so. Little by little, you will begin to function from your innermost center, which is a very different experience than the functioning from your periphery, which you are now so accustomed to that you cannot even imagine how else it could be. Now you are constantly dependent on what happens around you. You depend on appreciation and approval by others, on being loved, and on being successful in terms of the world outside you. Your inner striving is, whether you are aware of it or not, to make sure you will obtain all this, so as to be in peace and fulfillment. When you function from your center, your security and joy spring from a deep well within. But this does not by any means imply you are now condemned to live without approval, appreciation, love, and success. This is another one of those dualistic misunderstandings. ‘Either I realize my center, then I must forfeit all love and appreciation from others, I must be alone; or I forfeit my inner self because I cannot contemplate such a lonely life.’ In reality, through functioning from your liberated center, your innermost self, you attract all the abundance of life to you, but you do not depend on it. It enriches you, it is a fulfillment of a legitimate need, but it is not the substance of life. The substance is within.
The path is the finding of this center, this deep inner spiritual reality, and not some mystical, illusory, religious escape. Quite the contrary, it is immensely pragmatic, for the true spiritual life is never in contradiction to practical life on earth. There must be a harmony between the two aspects of the whole. The concept of forsaking everyday living is not true spirituality. In most cases, it is merely another kind of escape… The universe is abundant in its joys, pleasures, and bliss. Man is supposed to experience them, not forsake them.
Very, very few people on this earth are willing to undertake this path. Even fewer follow it through all the way. Most people wishfully think that they may find another way to reach fulfillment that will lead them around their dark spots. They do not want to know that it is those dark spots in them that render them unhappy and lonely. Some make beginnings, but when they approach those dark spots, they pull back in self-revulsion and turn all their destructive energy outward against those who help them find their way. They do not wish to take a chance on themselves, on finding the way through their own darkness. But those who have the courage to go all the way, relentlessly and patiently, what glory awaits them in their innermost center… There are certainly many more today who can do so than in former times. Many could, but few will.