Pathwork Lecture #094: The True Self Versus Superficial Personality Levels; Neurosis Versus Sin; Split Concepts Creating Confusion
October 2, 2007
Summary of Pathwork Lecture #094:
The True Self Versus Superficial Personality Levels; Neurosis Versus Sin; Split Concepts Creating Confusion
For a deeper, more rewarding experience of these teachings, consult the Lecture itself, available free of charge at: http://www.pathwork.org/lectures/unedited/P094.PDF
Our true self is the divine spark. It is covered up by layers of our artificial, habitual selves which falsely appear to us as fundamental. We are hindered in out growth by our false image of our true self as holy and therefore alien. In fact, there are dimensions of our lives in which we already act organically from our true self.
We harbor an image of the true self as rigidly perfectionistic, and we both rigidly and compulsively aspire to this perfection on the one hand, and rebel against this compulsiveness on the other. The truth is that our motivations and attitudes matter more that the nature of the actions we take. When we do the “right thing” out of fear and compulsion, this is self-betrayal. When we behave imperfectly out of faithfulness to who we are, and we are willing to accept the consequences, this is actually more perfect than doing the “right” thing for the wrong reasons.
Acting from the real self is not marked by confusion, anxiety or preoccupation with appearances or behavioral rules. Rather, it reflects a responsible weighing of consequences in the particular situation. Sometimes we go helplessly back and forth between an alternative favored by the inner grasping child and an alternative favored by the inner obedient conformist, and neither one is satisfying because neither one is grounded in the real self. Incidentally, this applies not only to overt actions, but also to thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and other inner behaviors. When we choose one alternative as the lesser evil, we are left feeling unhappy, and if we repress our negative feelings, they may come out later with destructive consequences. We can find our way out of such a predicament by BECOMING AWARE of our motivations and FINDING the point of relinquishing — the thing or attitude which is the object of a false need and which we must let go of in order to be able to act freely from our true self. Relinquishing what we need to let go of will free us to pursue our real needs and will leave us feeling better about ourselves.
We can understand our real self and our destructive attachments more fully by LOOKING BACK at our lives and observing where we felt confused and dependent, and where we felt free and at one with ourselves. If we observe the attachments we clung to in the first case, and let go of in the second, we will see what it is we need to relinquish, and observe that our true self is not something strange, but rather the familiar in us in the very best sense.
Essentially, neurosis and “sin” are one and the same; however, the Guide has avoided using the term “sin” because it plays to our destructive moralizing tendencies. However, a person on the Path must eventually CONFRONT the fact that neurosis is always some form of selfishness, pride, or cowardice, while continuing to accept himself or herself as he or she is at the moment. We are afraid to do this because we see the self-indulgence which might infect our self-acceptance, as well as the self-punishment which might corrupt our attempts to hold ourselves responsible. When we understand that self-indulgence and self-punishment are both grounded in pride, self-will and fear, while self-acceptance and honest self-confrontation are both grounded in humility, courage and self-responsibility, then we can let go of the former tendencies.
When we are still stuck in the state of confusion and unable to make contact with our true self, we resort to compulsion to do the right thing, which we then project as coming from the outside world and rebel against. This rebellion against rigid perfectionism and conformity has destructive aspects, but on another level it is also healthy. This illustrates the general principle that trends are not good or bad as such, but rather trends become negative to the extent they are misused by the afflicted part of our soul. The fact that there are good and bad aspects to each trend makes for internal confusion in our attitudes towards these trends, and for confusion in communication between people, who may have different aspects of these trends in mind. For instance, “love” can connote unhealthy submissiveness, while “compassion” can connote pity, which involves projecting one’s own weakness and inability to face life onto another, and which tends to paralyze rather than inspire the person who is feeling it.
Questions and Answers:
To let go of feelings for another, one would do well to FIND where one identifies with the other, and the FEAR of what the other is experiencing which underlies this identification.
When we feel an inner stiffening or hardening, this is a sign that our defenses have been triggered. When we become aware of this hardening, we can OBSERVE how it acts against our self-interest.
Doing this work is not about becoming “good” in a rigid, mechanistic “goody-goody” way. There is no “rule” that one is required to become spiritually mature — it’s just necessary in order to achieve our full potential. Doing this work does make us able to withstand that which we cannot change, but this is actually less machine-like than perpetually wasting energy railing against the things we cannot change. There is no need to fear that Christ wants us to submit and give up our free will. The more mature we are, the more alive and distinctly individual we are.
(c) 2007 — All rights reserved (see first post in general orientation category).