A chapter from my upcoming book

July 4, 2008

This is Chapter 2 of the book I have been writing about the principles of the Pathwork for the past year. I’m in the process of finding an agent to represent me in getting it published. This is a dialogue between two characters. Their designations are abbreviated for the sake of saving space. At this point, I’d prefer not to answer questions about the nature of the characters, but I’d be happy to talk about the substance of their conversation with anyone who’s interested in doing that. The “Teachings” the characters refer to are the Pathwork Lectures.

Hope you enjoy it . . .

Chapter 2. Tuning Ourselves to Spiritual Law

§2:1. Introduction
§2:2. The Purpose of Knowing and Following Spiritual Law; the Law of Connection
§2:3. The Law of Cause and Effect and the Law of Affinity or Attraction; Karma and Self-Responsibility
§2:4. The Law of Proportional Negative Feedback; a Spiritual “Invisible Fence”
§2:5. The Law of Infinity; Divine Grace
§2:6. The Law of Love (and the Concept of Evil)
§2:7. The Law of Equality
§2:8. The Law of Respecting Free Will
§2:9. The Law of Facing Reality and the Law of Paying the Price
§2:10. The Law of Giving Up What We Hope to Gain; Giving Our Lives to God
§2:11. What to Do with Our Knowledge of Spiritual Law
§2:12. What to Do with Our Knowledge of Spiritual Law — Our Moments of Disharmony as Related to Our Imperfections and Images
§2:13. Personal Imperfections as Related to Pride, Self-Will and Fear
§2:14. Avoiding Self-Punishment as We Discover Personal Imperfection

§2:1. Introduction

INT: The last time we spoke, you said, and I quote, “God is interested in supporting us as we clear up our misconceptions and learn how to exist in harmony with the spiritual laws which underlie the Universe, so we can evolve to the point where it’s possible for us to rejoin the divine community.” This time we’re talking about what it really means to exist in harmony with spiritual law, am I right?

•FSP: Yes. We’re talking about spiritual law, and the related topic of personal imperfections, and the conversation is important on two levels: First, the ultimate goal of learning to be in harmony with spiritual law is to stop incarnating on Earth and eventually rejoin the divine community. And second, as we go through the process of aligning with spiritual law, we attract more and more happiness in our Earthly lives, not only in the sense that we attract more positive circumstances, but also in the sense that we like ourselves more and we generally feel better. In other words the experience of just being who we are becomes more pleasant in and of itself.

INT: I’m not sure I know what the terms “spiritual law” and “personal imperfections” mean. Are they defined in the Teachings?

•FSP: It’s probably best to start with personal imperfections, which are referred to in the Teachings as “faults.” Essentially, a personal imperfection is a tendency to feel, think, interpret, act and react which, from a spiritual point of view, is delusional — that is, out of harmony with the actual nature of spiritual reality. The result of a personal imperfection is that, according to spiritual law, it triggers painful feedback from the Universe which will eventually cause us to pay attention to our delusion and learn to perceive reality correctly. We’ll be talking about that feedback mechanism in more detail very shortly, but that’s the basic idea.

INT: I want to pick up on what you said about the choice of words in the Teachings. The idea that we’re going to start this conversation by looking at our “faults” sounds a little judgmental to me. Aren’t higher forms of spirituality more about acceptance, rather than judgment?

•FSP: This is the tonal aspect I was referring to last time when I said that some people will relate to the Teachings as criticism. The Teachings can be a little blunt sometimes, but if we look beyond our reaction to the tone, it’s really clear that the message is all about self-acceptance.

INT: Why would there be this mismatch between the tone and the content?

•FSP: Possibly, the divine community was being blunt because it didn’t want us to delude ourselves into thinking we have less of a misguided or undeveloped side than we actually do. And it’s also possible that the choice of words could reflect a predisposition on the medium’s part, since she was in effect translating a sort of spiritual “picture language” into the best words she could find to express the meaning. In any event, your objection is exactly why I choose to use the word, “imperfections.”

INT: How do you know the medium was translating “picture language?”

•FSP: The Teachings say so.

INT: So the Teachings discuss the process of transmitting this message?

•FSP: To an extent, but ultimately, they always direct attention away from those logistical aspects to the content of the message itself. And if I could do the same thing right now, I’d like to give an example of what I’m saying about a false conception of reality attracting negative feedback. Remember last time when you asked me about the law of attraction and I talked about someone having an image that there’s not enough of anything to go around and that everyone else is out to cheat him of his fair share? That’s a false belief about the nature of spiritual reality. There is actually enough to go around, even though it may not appear that way based on a particular set of circumstances, and not everyone is purely selfish in their outlook. But when we approach the world with this kind of expectation, the behavior we attract from people tends to confirm what we believe.

INT: Wait a minute. Are you saying that if you were to have a conversation with someone who’s starving to death in Ethiopia about the Teachings, you would tell them that there’s actually enough to go around? What if they’re living in a wasteland and their whole community is being wiped out by famine?

•FSP: Well, first of all, if I ever found myself face to face with such a person, I doubt that I would be trying to educate them about spiritual reality. I think it would be more important to relate on the level of immediate physical and emotional needs. But the perspective of the Teachings on a situation like that is that the soul’s pre-existing false belief in scarcity is what causes the soul to incarnate into those circumstances, and that those circumstances don’t correctly reflect the deeper spiritual truth of our existence. We’ll be talking about that a lot more when we get to reincarnation. For now, I’d like to keep the focus on how our expectations about the world attract behavior from others which reinforces our false beliefs.

INT: All right. So how does that work, exactly?

•FSP: If I believe everyone is selfish, then I tend to give myself permission to be selfish, which brings out the selfishness in others because they get the impression that they need to behave selfishly around me in order to defend themselves. Then when I see them acting that way towards me, it confirms my belief that everyone is inherently selfish.

On a personal level: Does this vicious cycle show up in your life to any extent, even if only on a subtle level? In spite of the level at which you know better, is there an internal investment in the idea that there’s not enough to go around, and if so, does this investment create feedback which confirms the belief? Are there any other beliefs you have about life which affect the way others behave towards you, with the effect of confirming these beliefs? If you have identified any such beliefs, gently observe the investment you have in them, as well as the influence they have on your life.

INT: So, looking at it from an Eastern point of view, could we say that a personal imperfection is an investment in illusion?

•FSP: An investment in illusion, and the influence which that investment exerts on our feelings, attitudes, thoughts and actions.

INT: And from a Western point of view, a personal imperfection is a tendency to sin?

•FSP: I suppose so. Again, it’s important to understand a “sin” as a destructive spiritual choice, as opposed to a reason for God to punish us, or subject us to retribution. Rather than connecting to blame, guilt and shame, we’re better off thinking about this more clinically and dispassionately. An imperfection is really a “spiritually erroneous tendency,” or “tendency which attracts painful feedback according to the law of cause and effect.”

INT: Because it violates spiritual law?

•FSP: Yes. Because it’s out of harmony with spiritual law.

INT: So is there a list of spiritual laws somewhere? Or actually, I guess the more fundamental question I have is, what is a spiritual law?

•FSP: There isn’t a comprehensive list of spiritual laws anywhere in the Teachings. There are scattered references which a number of people, including myself, have made an effort to compile. The effort is complicated because some of the laws are interrelated, and a few of them aren’t given specific names, so not everyone’s list looks exactly the same. Laws on my list include the law of connection, the law of affinity or attraction, the law of cause and effect or karma, the law of infinity, the law of proportional negative feedback, the law of love, the law of equality, the law of respecting free will, the law of facing reality, the law of paying the price, and the law of giving up what we hope to gain.

INT: And you’re going to explain all of those?

•FSP: I am, but first I want to address your general question about the nature of spiritual law. Let me start by telling you what a spiritual law is not, because the idea of spiritual law can bring up a lot of resistance for someone who’s holding inaccurate imagery about it.

Spiritual law is not something God wants you to follow because God has certain preferences and enjoys imposing them on everyone else. That image lurks in just about everyone’s psyche, and consequently, just about everyone is caught up in some mix of trying to satisfy God or else trying to rebel against God.

INT: You say there’s a mix of these attitudes?

•FSP: Well, often it’s pretty clear which way a person predominantly leans, but still, there are all sorts of little instances of energy flowing in the opposite direction. So, for example, people who generally try to satisfy God will occasionally cheat on their commitment somehow, and people who generally pride themselves on their independence will occasionally bargain with God when they’re worried about what’s happening in their lives.

INT: What about people who don’t believe in God? Does what you’re saying apply to them as well?

•FSP: People who don’t believe in God still tend to have some sort of internalized authority mechanism which functions the way the image of God does for other people, and they still tend to display a mix of appeasing and rebellious attitudes towards what they think they’re “supposed” to be doing. In some cases the rebellion takes the form of passive resistance, and so it doesn’t feel or look like rebellion on the surface.

INT: Can you give an example?

•FSP: Sure. An atheist who believes that everyone should be honest because the world would be a better place if everyone were, but who doesn’t report all of his or her income to the IRS. There’s a standard of behavior there, and then a subtle rebellion against the standard. So whether it’s a Christian not reporting income in spite of a belief that one should “render unto Caesar,” or an atheist not reporting income in spite of a belief that honesty would make the world a better place, it all amounts to the same dynamic.

INT: Okay, so spiritual law is not a set of arbitrary “shoulds.” What is it then?

•FSP: The spiritual laws are a set of generalizations about the way the spiritual universe works, in the same way as the physical laws, such as the law of gravity, are generalizations about the way the physical universe works. For instance the law of attraction, which can be expressed as “like attracts like,” is a spiritual law. Some of the spiritual laws merely describe relationships or tendencies, as the law of attraction does. Others can be thought of more along the lines of “it’s a good idea to do this, because it will bring you pleasure and growth, whereas doing the opposite will cause the Universe to send you negative consequences in order to get your attention and enlighten you.” So these other laws can be thought of as “prescriptive,” in the sense that they prescribe an approach to life which is in harmony with God’s principles.

On a personal level: How do you feel about the idea of there being spiritual laws which it is to our advantage to follow?

If you’re motivated to learn the laws and follow them, is there any aspect of that desire which is motivated by fear? On some level, are you hoping you can appease an angry God to avoid enduring the negative consequences of God’s displeasure?

If you resent the idea of spiritual law, does this resentment show up in your life as a resistance to doing things you know it would serve you to do? Are you subtly rebelling against spiritual law to compensate for the part of you which wants to comply out of fear?

If any of these questions show you attitudes or feelings you have, just hold those gently in your awareness.

§2:2. The Purpose of Knowing and Following Spiritual Law; the Law of Connection

INT: Can you give an example of a prescriptive law?

•FSP: A good example is the law of connection, which expresses a general preference for interaction with other people as opposed to separation and isolation. The foundation of the law of connection is that creating separation between yourself and others is undesirable because it withholds the potential benefits of your interactions from everyone involved. The idea is that we’re fundamentally social creatures, and that we have needs which can be satisfied only in relationship, as well as gifts which we can give only in relationship. Moreover, one of our most fundamental needs is the need to share our gifts. So someone could hear the phrase “law of connection” and imagine that God is being a busybody and imposing a preference on us, like a host at a party pressuring us to mingle when we might or might not want to. But the truth is that the law of connection is more of an organic principle to keep in mind when we make our choices, just as we keep the law of gravity in mind when we walk close to the edge of a cliff, or we keep our body’s nutritional needs in mind when we eat.

INT: So we want to know these “laws” so we can make better choices?

•FSP: Yes, subject to the qualification that we don’t get anywhere spiritually by forcing ourselves to behave in ways that are “right” in spite of deep contradictory tendencies. The Teachings are not about behavior control, they’re about personal transformation on the deepest level.

INT: So does that mean we can just do whatever we want?

•FSP: Whatever we do is going to have spiritual consequences, in the way we feel about ourselves and in the quality of the experience we attract to ourselves. The more we understand that, and the more we respect both ourselves and others — which we inevitably will if we do the self-realization work the Teachings recommend — the less we’re going to want to do destructive things. So, my point wasn’t “do what you want.” What I was saying was, focus on changing who you are, and your behavior will naturally follow that change.

In that context, the greatest value of knowing the laws is that it gives us a basis for evaluating the tendencies in our thoughts and feelings and actions, so we can begin to understand the ways in which we create the negative experiences in our lives. At some level, everything negative we go through is feedback from the Universe related to a deviation of ours from spiritual law. If we can decode that feedback by drawing the connections between the breaking of spiritual law and the negative consequence, we can learn how our approach to life is misguided, and this knowledge creates organic, spontaneous emotional and spiritual growth. And, as I said in our first conversation, that growth eventually takes us to a place where we can trust our impulses and live truly spontaneous lives, instead of having to tie up energy in controlling ourselves all the time to make sure that immature and misguided energy doesn’t leak out and create problems for us.

INT: Can you make this a little more concrete? For instance, could you relate it to any of the examples we’ve talked about?

•FSP: Well, to take the selfish person I was describing a while ago, suppose he has the experience of having an employee embezzle money from his company. If he applies this framework to the experience, perhaps he realizes that it’s feedback from the Universe, showing him a mirror of his own selfishness and greed. If he accepts the feedback in a constructive spirit, then that helps him to grow out of his selfish attitudes.

INT: Is it always that simple? Is everything just a mirror like that?

•FSP: It’s not always so blatant. The connection can be more subtle, so we have to search around internally to feel into what the connections really are.

On a personal level: Think about an event in your life which has brought you pain, and ask yourself the question, “if this experience were meant to teach me something, what would the lesson be? Don’t overthink it — give the answer time to emerge on its own.

INT: I believe you said a few minutes ago that the purpose of this feedback is to bring our attention to our delusion so we can learn to perceive reality correctly?

•FSP: Exactly.

INT: And why is perceiving reality correctly so important?

•FSP: Until we learn to see spiritual reality clearly, we can’t really understand the organic logic of spiritual law, we can’t be nearly as happy as we potentially could be, and we won’t be able to rejoin the divine community. The members of that community are all in tune with spiritual law. They all get it. If we don’t get it, it’s not even a matter of their not wanting to be in connection with us — meaningful connection between us is essentially impossible. We’re not able to understand the place they’re coming from, because we’re just not mature enough.

INT: So getting to know spiritual law is a maturation process?

•FSP: Coming to understand spiritual law on a deep level, so that we comply with it willingly, and don’t fool ourselves into thinking we’re complying with it when we’re not, is a core aspect of spiritual maturation. In turn, spiritual maturity is a precondition to leaving the Earth plane and rejoining the divine community. And, in the meantime, it’s a precondition to living fully satisfying lives on Earth.

INT: Well, then. I guess if one accepts those premises, it’s important to know these laws.

•FSP: Right. So let’s go through them.

First, let me remind you of the two categories of laws — those which simply describe the general workings of the spiritual Universe, and those which can be thought of as prescribing constructive and satisfying behavior and explaining the ways we attract negative experience.

§2:3. The Law of Cause and Effect and the Law of Affinity or Attraction; Karma and Self-Responsibility

•FSP: The major “descriptive” spiritual law is the law of cause and effect. Essentially, it states that actions — which really include our thoughts, feelings and attitudes as well as our overt acts — have consequences. The law of cause and effect conceptually overlaps with the law of affinity, otherwise known as the law of attraction, which can be simply stated as “like attracts like.” Put the law of cause and effect and the law of attraction together, and you have the idea that “what goes around comes around.” In other words, if I do something negative towards someone, or simply have a negative attitude towards them, then that has the consequence of attracting similar negative energy into my life. People are going to act negatively towards me or form negative attitudes towards me. Add to all of that the idea that consequences carry over from one material lifetime to another, and you have the law of karma: the energy I put out in one lifetime attracts similar energy to me, which may actually come to me either in the same lifetime or in a future lifetime.

I should mention that many students of the Teachings refer to the law of cause and effect as the “law of self-responsibility,” because they want to emphasize the corollary that everything we experience in our lives is somehow the result of some force we initially set in motion, and therefore we’re responsible for it.

On a personal level: The concept of spiritual self-responsibility is going to be discussed further, below, but for the moment, what’s your initial reaction to the idea? Can you sense a part of yourself which welcomes the idea as empowering — as an invitation to take creative authorship of your own life? Can you sense a different part of yourself which doesn’t want the burden of responsibility, and possibly wants to prove that life isn’t really in your control? Spend some time with each of these reactions. Without evaluating which is “right” or “wrong,” or trying to control your reactions in any way, sense and observe the impact of each reaction on your potential for personal growth.

INT: I have a question. I remember you saying in our first conversation that the Bible is true at its core. But the Bible doesn’t say anything about karma. How do you reconcile that?

•FSP: Well, as I think I also said in that conversation, the fact that something isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. But in any event, I don’t think the idea that we’re responsible for our thoughts and actions is really all that foreign to the Bible. For example, the Bible says, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” It’s mainly the reincarnation angle, the idea of consequences carrying over through successive lives, which is foreign, and that’s mainly because the Gnostic gospels weren’t included the Bible.

INT: But wouldn’t a traditional Christian say the Gnostic gospels weren’t included because they were wrong?

•FSP: Well, sure. That’s the official position, and a basic premise of that belief is that the process of including gospels in the Bible was somehow infallible. You have to wonder, though, how realistic that premise really is, especially when you consider the fact that the same organization which chose the gospels later tortured “heretics” and burned them at the stake. I know that’s probably an offensive point to make to someone who is highly invested in Biblical inerrancy, but I’m not really focused on trying to convince anyone that the Teachings are valid, especially if they’re already dead-set in their contrary beliefs. My goal is just to take the vast body of knowledge the Teachings have to offer and boil it down to something reasonably accessible, and then people can make whatever judgments they’re going to make.

INT: And the organization you’re talking about is the Catholic Church, which you laid the foundations for?

•FSP: Of course. Listen — one of the spiritual laws is the law of facing reality. So when I mention the persecution of heretics, I’m facing reality about the history of the organization I helped to create. At the same time, I didn’t bring it up because I want to attack the Church — I’m just saying, in light of the Inquisition, maybe it’s a mistake to assume that the selection of the gospels to include in the Bible was infallible. Do you see my point?

INT: Absolutely. To tell you the truth, my real reason for asking you the question about the Bible and karma in the first place was to try to get a better fix on where you stand in relation to traditional Christianity, given your past-life connection. So I’m very interested in what you just said about facing reality, because it helps me understand your perspective. At the same time, I really have no way of knowing whether the Gnostic gospels are actually true, any more than I’m able to evaluate any of the other gospels for that matter. But let’s move on. Tell me more about the laws.

§2:4. The Law of Proportional Negative Feedback; a Spiritual “Invisible Fence”

•FSP: The next descriptive law is really a refinement of the law of cause and effect. It isn’t given a name in the Teachings, but I refer to it as the law of proportional negative feedback. The basic principle is that the longer and farther we stray from spiritual law in general, the more intense the negative feedback from the Universe gets, and the more miserable we become.

INT: What’s the point of that law?

•FSP: It’s kind of like invisible fencing.

INT: You mean the collars that zap your dog when it crosses over the underground wire?

•FSP: Yes. Actually, like progressive invisible fencing. The further you stray, the more it hurts, until finally you pay attention and decide to turn yourself around. It’s not meant to be vindictive. It’s just a mechanism which leads us to the eventual commitment to learn spiritual law and to channel our free will in constructive directions.

INT: Am I hearing you say that somehow this mechanism hurts us for our own good?

•FSP: I know this could be interpreted in a distorted way which would falsely make God seem sadistic, but I’m going to have to say, “yes.” The basic idea is that God has infinite respect for our free will. At the same time, God knows that the only way we can climb back up the ladder to rejoin our spiritual family and experience divine bliss is to tune ourselves to spiritual law. So God has structured the Universe in this way, and has seen to it that an explanation of the principle appeared on Earth when we were ready to understand it. If we’re willing to take this mechanism seriously and decode the negative aspects of our lives as instructive feedback given to us so that we might learn from it, then we can learn to stop hurting ourselves, and we can vastly accelerate our spiritual growth.

INT: And this mechanism is automatic — built into the fabric of the Universe?

•FSP: Yes and no. As part of the whole framework, it’s necessary for us to have guardian spirits who keep track of what we karmically deserve and what we don’t, and who subtly influence events to make sure that we don’t encounter inappropriate circumstances. They’re the ones who give us that sudden feeling that we should look up from our car radio when we’re about to crash into something, for instance — assuming it isn’t karmically appropriate for us to crash.

INT: When you say, “rejoin our spiritual family,” I get the impression you’re referring to some sort of separation which happened and which needs to be reversed. I think you said something in our last conversation about souls who got “confused and lost?”

•FSP: Yes, and we’re going to talk about that in detail next time.

INT: Isn’t there some other way this reunion could have been accomplished? Some other way to educate us?

•FSP: Actually, no. This is the only solution which ensures that each and every one of us eventually comes back to the divine community of our own free will, with a correct understanding of everything which has happened since we were separated.

INT: And pain has to be a part of this process of bringing us back?

•FSP: Pain has to be a part of it. But as soon as we understand that, we can have a very significant influence on how much more pain we have to endure.

Listen, would it be all right if we just left it at that for now, and then came back to it again when we have the cosmological discussion? I think we’d be able to add another layer at that time, but for now it might take us off track.

INT: That’s fine.

On a personal level: The idea that God structured the Universe as a feedback mechanism which causes us pain for our own spiritual benefit is going to be discussed further in the next chapter. In the meantime, how do you feel about this idea?

Does it touch a place in you where you feel that you deserve to be punished? If so, just hold that feeling about yourself in your awareness, without judgment.

Does it imply to you a God who is in some way unlikeable? If so, are you willing to hold yourself open to the possibility of understanding this in a different way when you have more information?

§2:5. The Law of Infinity; Divine Grace

•FSP: Another descriptive spiritual law is the law of infinity, which states that only the divine can be infinite. What this means is that the divine spark within us is infinite and eternal. All of our misconceptions and distortions, on the other hand, because they are not divine, are necessarily limited. They must eventually cease and reverse.

INT: So good wins out in the end?

•FSP: Good wins out in the end. Guaranteed. On the mass scale and on the individual scale. No matter what we go through, when we have integrated it all, we come back to love, truth, joy, peace and a state of being and experiencing which the Teachings refer to as “pleasure supreme.” This inevitable tendency is what the Teachings call divine grace.

None of that means we don’t have to work at it, though.

INT: And I think I’m also hearing you say that we live forever.

•FSP: On the spiritual level, yes, we do.

INT: As individual conscious beings, or as particles in the divine soup?

•FSP: The best answer to that question is actually “both,” and I promise I’ll explain that next time.

INT: Okay … .

•FSP: And that takes care of what I call the “descriptive” laws.

§2:6. The Law of Love (and the Concept of Evil)

•FSP: Moving on to the more “prescriptive” laws, i.e., laws which can be thought of as prescribing constructive and satisfying behaviors, we already talked about the law of connection. A related law is the law of love, which states that there is a divine obligation not to hurt others, and that this obligation applies to everyone.

INT: Okay. I have a curveball for you.

•FSP: What do you mean?

INT: I was thinking, back when you were talking about us all being responsible for what we experience, that if you and I get into an argument and you punch me in the face, then I’m responsible for that. Would you agree?

•FSP: You are, but that doesn’t mean I’m not also responsible for it. I’ve set a force in motion which is going to come back around to me.

INT: Fine. But in a way, getting punched in the face is not “wrong.” It’s what I had coming to me in some spiritual way, even if someone witnessing the event might think you overreacted and shouldn’t have hit me.

•FSP: Technically, that’s correct. The punch in the face is a message from the Universe being conveyed by means of the invisible fence mechanism. It’s a starting point for an investigation by you which can lead you to some distortion within yourself which it would be helpful for you to confront and come to terms with. And that can be true even if there’s really no excuse from my point of view for having punched you.

INT: I guess my point is that according to the law of cause and effect, I might have gotten back the result of some energy I put out into the world somehow at some time, and yet according to the law of love, you did something wrong. Only it’s not really wrong in the grand scheme of things. All of that just feels contradictory somehow.

•FSP: That might be because there are two different perspectives at work. From your perspective, it’s not “wrong” because it potentially serves a constructive purpose in terms of your spiritual growth. From my perspective, it is “wrong,” because by not following the law of love, I’ve hurt myself as well as hurting you. When I hurt someone else, even by thinking about them negatively, I’m going against my own highest nature, and that’s self-destructive and painful. I get in touch with that a lot when I’m about to say something negative about someone and I get this sick feeling in my stomach which tells me to be quiet or to reframe what I’m about to say.

INT: I’ve experienced that.

•FSP: Well, that feeling comes from the place in us which already knows the spiritual laws.

On a personal level: Take a moment to connect to place in you which already knows the law of love. Just hold an honor that connection, which is where you intersect with spirit. See if you can feel the potential for growth and pleasure which is alive in this place.

INT: All right, I guess I get that. But even though I granted your premise that I’m responsible for that punch in the face, I have to say I’m not really sure I believe it. Aren’t there terrible accidents and injustices that happen where the victims aren’t responsible?

•FSP: In the way that you mean that, the answer is “yes, of course.” And yet even the most unfair-seeming event serves a spiritual purpose, no matter how invisible it might be to an outside observer. It’s an opportunity for the soul who experiences it to learn something important which the soul didn’t learn when the Universe showed it to them at a lower level of intensity. Moreover, it can be an opportunity for the soul to contribute in some way to the spiritual growth of others. But rather than spell that out in complete detail right now, I’d like to ask you to wait until we talk about reincarnation and then give me a chance to tie it all together at that point. It only makes sense when it’s viewed in a reincarnational context. I’m sorry to keep putting you off, by the way, but there are several important pieces to this framework, and until they’ve all been introduced, it’s difficult to talk about anything in any kind of depth.

INT: All right. I’ll be patient about that. So, what if I hurt someone accidentally?

•FSP: “Accidentally” could mean several different things. For instance, it could mean “unavoidably,” it could mean “as a result of your not being really tuned in to what you were doing,” or it could mean “as a result of me not paying attention to an inner voice telling you to be more careful.” Spiritually, we’re responsible for our states of mind, not for events that we don’t have any control over. So if you hurt someone unavoidably, as where they run out into the middle of the highway at night wearing black clothing and you hit them, then you haven’t violated spiritual law. The more deliberate lack of concern for another person is involved, the more of a spiritual violation there is.

And that actually presents a good opportunity to mention the concept of evil in the framework of the Teachings. Unlike the traditional religious view that evil is a separate force, or the view that evil is nonexistent and illusory, the concept of evil advanced by the Teachings is that evil is fundamentally the numbing of the capacity to feel one’s own pain and the capacity for compassion.

INT: How would that apply to active cruelty towards another human being?

•FSP: The Teachings explain active cruelty as an extreme act of compensation by a person who is exceedingly intent on not subjecting themselves to the vulnerability and pain of having a compassionate response. Such a person finds that pushing themselves to a psychic place of active cruelty provides the only possible escape from the compassion experience.

INT: And why would someone be that intent on avoiding compassion?

•FSP: Because allowing the energy of compassion would open that person up emotionally to a lot of suppressed feelings they’re deeply afraid of feeling, based on an unconscious misconception that somehow those feelings would be intolerable.

INT: Interesting … . Okay. What other spiritual laws are there?

§2:7. The Law of Equality

•FSP: The law of equality states that all of us are equally children of God, all deserving of equal respect and consideration.

INT: How is that different from the law of love?

•FSP: It’s only a subtle difference. There’s definitely overlap there. Basically, we break this law when we give in to pride and we consider our desires and our vanity to be more important than the needs or desires of another person.

INT: So it’s about self-importance, whereas the law of love is more focused on aggression?

•FSP: You could say that — again, keeping in mind that aggression includes hurtful thoughts and attitudes.

INT: Well, could you give some examples of how we violate the law of equality?

•FSP: I can tell you how I violate it. I violate it when I race someone to an empty parking space or an empty checkout counter, when I interrupt someone rather than listening to them, when I throw away solicitations from charities that serve the needy without even reading them — just to give you a few examples.

INT: Those don’t really seem like such terrible things. Don’t we all do that sometimes?

•FSP: Yes. Just about everybody does at least some of those things some of the time.

INT: So we’re all violating the law of equality.

•FSP: We’re all violating all of the spiritual law some reasonably substantial portion of the time, or else we wouldn’t need to be incarnated on Earth. It’s just more obvious and pervasive in some people’s cases than it is in others.

INT: Mmm.

On a personal level: How do you react to the idea that you need to incarnate on Earth because you violate spiritual law? Is there a level at which you take offense to this idea? If so, explore the source of your resistance. What is it that you would like to believe about yourself instead? Gently observe this desired belief, and feel the quality of your investment in believing it.

§2:8. The Law of Respecting Free Will

•FSP: Then there’s the law of respecting free will, which we touched on when we were talking about the way the invisible fence mechanism is designed to allow us all to come back of our own free will. God is completely committed to respecting our free will, but unfortunately, we don’t extend the same respect to others. Our attitude expresses itself on a mass scale in the various instances of countries or groups using force to impose their will on others, and then it expresses on a more directly personal level in the sometimes subtle ways that we try to control the other people in our lives.

INT: So on the global level, you’re talking about things like wars of conquest and genocide and so on.

•FSP: Yes. And also things like slavery, or the oppression of women, or the caste system.

INT: That’s all pretty clear, but I’m not sure what you mean when you talk about controlling the people in our lives.

•FSP: It can be very subtle forms of manipulation, such as guilt trips, or pretended helplessness, or it can be much more overt, as in the case of being an overbearing, threatening parent, or dominating subordinates at work. I would say that in the case of people who identify as spiritual seekers, it’s usually something pretty subtle that they can either ignore or downplay the significance of, as opposed to something glaring. For instance, maybe I don’t like to go to the ballet but I don’t want to come out and tell my wife I won’t go with her, because I already feel guilty about others ways I’m not as connected to her and supportive in the relationship as I would like to be. So I go, but I’m withdrawn the whole time, and that gets the message across to her that she ought to stop asking me to go. Or, to flip it around, maybe she acts so hurt and disappointed that I won’t support her in her opportunity to enjoy quality entertainment that I get the message that I ought to go and be pleasant. On a very subtle level, these kinds of things are power struggles, and they’re about control.

On a personal level: Consider whether you might have tendencies towards controlling others, at least in certain aspects of your life. If so, explore the ultimate goals of this behavior. What are you trying to achieve? What are you trying to avoid? Without censoring or evaluating, just observe these personal objectives. Then ask yourself, “do I really need the outcome I am trying to achieve?”

If any of these questions put you in touch with a strategy of avoiding certain painful or frightening feelings, ask yourself whether you might actually be able to tolerate those feelings if you allowed them, and whether there might be growth available for you if you did that.

INT: I see what you’re saying generally, but I want to check in with you about the parenting thing. You’re not suggesting that we should just let our kids do whatever they want, are you?

•FSP: We have to set limits and we have to teach our kids to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. It would be vastly preferable, though, if we could do that without all the resort to forcing energy which often happens. Forcing leads to rebellion and it models forcing as a way of relating. It ought to be more of a last resort than it often is.

INT: All right, then. What other spiritual laws are there?

§2:9. The Law of Facing Reality and the Law of Paying the Price

•FSP: The next two laws are really crucial in terms of the formation of a mature adult personality. If we’re not in tune with these, we’re still living our lives as children, and we’re consequently bound to attract some sort of unhappiness to ourselves. These are the law of facing reality, and the law of paying the price.

INT: I don’t know if I’m going to like these.

•FSP: Yes, there’s a level in most of us where the titles sound intimidating. I certainly relate to them that way.

The law of facing reality is first and foremost about facing the reality of who we are, as opposed to who we would like to be. I’m not going to say a lot about this one right now, because really, it’s what everything in our self-development conversations will be about. We’re going to be coming back to it again and again.

As for the law of paying the price, this is really about facing the reality that, as the expression goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

INT: And this applies to life in general.

•FSP: It absolutely does. If you want to play the violin at Carnegie Hall, you have to practice. If you want to lose weight, you have to exercise. And, most importantly, if you want to be spiritually evolved, you have to do the hard work of honest self-examination and of opening to suppressed feelings. No one reaches spiritual mastery by winning God’s favor through obedience or by looking at someone who is supposed to be a master and imitating the way that person acts. There are no effortless short cuts to maturity.

INT: That’s not the first time you’ve made the same basic point. If I’m understanding correctly, this might be a key defining characteristic of the Teachings — this emphasis on the need for hard work?

•FSP: The need for hard work is a reality. To the extent that it’s emphasized in the Teachings, I think it’s out of a recognition that we’d all like to just flip a switch and be enlightened, and we need to be reminded that it doesn’t work that way.

INT: Aren’t you worried that people might not want to hear that?

•FSP: I recognize it as a possibility, but I have a responsibility to be honest about what the Teachings are and aren’t, and I can only hope that there’s a critical mass of people out there who intuitively resonate with the idea that we have to pay our dues. If not now, I’m sure some day there will be.

INT: So what would you say to someone who starts thinking that they’d rather get involved with something lighter, or more optimistic?

•FSP: I would suggest that they take a moment to feel into the energy within them which wants to push this message away, and then feel into whatever energy within them is attracted to it, and sincerely ask themselves which energy feels more mature. In matters of spirituality, it’s always the more mature inner voice we would do well to trust. Beyond that, I would say there’s nothing pessimistic about accepting that we have to pay a price for our spiritual development. On the contrary, it’s only when we really accept that fact that we can start experiencing the deepest levels of spiritual growth and therefore, the deepest levels of happiness.

INT: I guess I really wonder if that’s an appealing message in today’s “instant gratification” culture.

•FSP: I’ve heard that very same concern expressed by people who work with the Teachings, and I just don’t agree with it. I think those of us who devote ourselves to this material are called to apply it to ourselves deeply enough and thoroughly enough that the transformation in us is inspiring to others, and creates a willingness to invest the time and effort to do the work. I think if people recognize a really dramatic result, that’s going to provide a motivation. And if we can’t provide that example, then we don’t really have much of a basis for suggesting that others should take the Teachings seriously. Ultimately, the proof has to be in the pudding, so to speak.

§2:10. The Law of Giving Up What We Hope to Gain; Giving Our Lives to God

•FSP: In any event, let me move on … . The last law is a little more spiritually-oriented and esoteric. It’s the law of giving up what we hope to gain, and it relates to our relationship to God. There’s a point in every soul’s development when we willingly give our lives over to serving God, which means serving the goal of reuniting the divine community. And while this brings us a lot of happiness, there’s always an aspect of letting go of something — giving up an attachment which up until then has been more important to us than our commitment to God. It feels like a sacrifice, but the beauty of it is that in the long run, God always sees to it that we receive what we gave up in an even better way.

INT: Can you give me an example?

•FSP: I think this is one of those things that we know is true when we experience it, and that each of us experiences in a very personal and private way. For myself I can say that I had an attachment to something which included an aspect of narcissism and self-aggrandizement, and that I had to let the attachment go in order to “burn off” that ego aspect, and that it wasn’t easy.

INT: So you’re not talking about giving up our worldly belongings and becoming monks or nuns or something . . .

•FSP: No, no. Nothing like that at all. I’m talking about some specific attachment which is important to us and which is actually holding us back although we don’t realize it. And it’s going to be something different and something very personal in each case. The only person I could speak about with any knowledge is myself, and it just doesn’t feel right for me to go there in detail. Does that make some kind of sense?

INT: In a nonspecific way, yes. And I don’t need to know the details. But am I right that I’m hearing a bit of a Buddhist theme there, about letting go of attachment?

•FSP: Absolutely. Generically, that’s a big part of the law of facing reality. When we truly face reality, we have to let go of our attachments to the ways we would like reality to be, as opposed to the way it really is. This law just focuses on the fact that the process of giving one’s life to God necessarily involves giving up an attachment which is standing in the way of making that commitment.

INT: Always? For everybody?

•FSP: Apparently so. That’s the way I understand it, anyway.

I’d like to add, by the way, that another important aspect of really giving one’s life over to God is an intention to bring about happiness, not only for one’s self, but also for all the other souls in the world. If there’s a self-centered calculation that I’m going to be personally better off by aligning myself with God, and a lack of concern for the welfare of the entire spiritual community, then that’s really a reflection of immaturity, and it restricts what I’m really able to offer. Even though I think I’m giving myself over, I’m really holding back in my self-centeredness.

INT: And so does that make God angry?

•FSP: God has infinite tolerance for whatever stage of development we’re at. Think of the attitude the director of a hospital has when a patient still needs weeks of treatment before they can go home. If that’s the reality, the director accepts it. It’s his or her business to provide the best environment possible for healing to take place. And, at the same time, the patients have to do their part as well. If they don’t want to heal, that’s an obstacle to progress.

INT: So even if we approach God hypocritically, we’re not damaging our relationship with Him?

•FSP: No, we’re just limiting our own ability to participate in that relationship and we’re manifesting the fact that we’re not ready to be an instrument of God’s plan in a very significant way. Therefore, we’re not likely to receive a lot of spiritual help.

INT: But if we’re underdeveloped, doesn’t that mean we ought to receive more help, not less?

•FSP: I can see where that would make sense, but it doesn’t actually work that way. The basic source of help in the Universe is the invisible fence mechanism we’ve talked about. Sooner or later, every soul begins to learn from this mechanism that in order to be happy, they’re going to have to search for the truth, including the truth about themselves, and that they’re going to have to take responsibility for themselves. Once they get past the beginnings of these basic understandings, and start to get in touch with their intuition and their connection to spirit, then they start to receive more help. But the spiritual world allocates its greatest resources to those who have grasped the oneness of the entire spiritual community, and who genuinely care about helping others to the same extent as they care about helping themselves, because those are the ones who can actually move God’s plan forward here on Earth. It’s all about reuniting the divine community. Until all the lost souls are back on the bus, so to speak, everything else is secondary.

INT: All right. So I think this was the last spiritual law in your list. Is that it for the spiritual laws, then?

•FSP: That’s good enough in order to be able to move forward, yes.

On a personal level: When you contemplate giving your life to God, or giving it over more fully than you already have, what does that look like? Do you imagine it making your life more pleasurable or less pleasurable? Observe your expectations, with the awareness that they may or may not be accurate. Just be aware that these are the expectations you have.

§2:11. What to Do with Our Knowledge of Spiritual Law

INT: So now that we know the spiritual laws, is the focus of our spiritual growth training ourselves to follow them?

•FSP: As reasonable as that seems, training ourselves to act a certain way actually tends to be counterproductive.

INT: How so?

•FSP: If you think about it, throughout all of human history, people have been trying and failing to act the way they aspired to act. When they fail, what do they do? They try harder. And yet they generally end up falling back into the same destructive or limiting patterns, over and over again. Maybe they manage to hide the fact that they’re stuck, but only a small fraction of people actually evolve in a significant way during the course of their lives.

Now, almost everyone misinterprets these repeated failures as the result of not trying hard enough. For instance, think how people generally react when they aren’t able to lose weight, or can’t quit smoking, or can’t stop losing their temper. Or, to take a more charged example, I’m guessing that when a pedophile priest relapses, he probably beats himself up for being weak, resolves to do better in the future, and prays to God to give him the strength he needs or to remove the affliction in exchange for all the good things the priest promises he will do. But at some point down the line, there he is again. And the problem is not that he’s not trying hard enough, but that he’s not being honest with himself about who he is.

INT: What do you mean?

•FSP: If he were honest, he’d say, “I’m someone who at this point in his life has a lot of predatory impulses towards children which I don’t understand and can’t control, and I’m not able to guarantee the safety of these kids, so I’m going to take myself out of situations where I’m tempted until I get a real grip on what’s going on.”

INT: So, he’d quit the priesthood?

•FSP: He’d have to, wouldn’t he? If he were really being honest? Or at least go on a very long sabbatical?

INT: And then what would he have to do in order to change?

•FSP: He’d have to admit everything about who he is. That on some level he only cares about himself. That he’s capable of removing himself emotionally to the point where he has no compassion for his victim. That he uses fear and shame to coerce his victims into silence. And I don’t know what else. I’m not tuned into the pedophile mentality. But I know that when we’re truthful about who we are, then we begin to mature and change organically. By “organically,” I mean not deliberately, not by force of will. The will needs to be applied primarily towards the awareness. If the awareness is maintained, automatic behaviors stop being automatic. There’s a further level of change we can create for ourselves by cultivating the intention to evolve and connect to our higher selves in meditation or prayer, but it’s absolutely essential to create the self-awareness first.

INT: But if the priest were able to admit all of that, wouldn’t he have to confront his own psychic pain in the process? Perhaps some way in which he himself had been abused?

•FSP: For it to be a meaningful and transformational process, yes, absolutely. He could intellectualize the whole thing and it wouldn’t have any deep, lasting effect on him. It’s necessary to let one’s self feel what one really feels, and once one starts down that trail, all kinds of things come to the surface, including powerful experiences of vulnerability, sadness, anger and fear. And the growth process in that context involves allowing those feelings to be there and to pass through, instead of blocking them.

Also, by the way, an important aspect of the growth process for someone who is abusive in any way towards others is to get in touch with the ways in which they’re abusive towards themselves. Ultimately, the relationship to self has to be healed before the relationship to others can really change.

INT: Are you aware of the research which says that pedophiles can’t change?

•FSP: I am. In fact, it may be correct to say that we don’t know how to help pedophiles effectively, and it may even be correct to say that most pedophiles are so immature that self-confrontation would be very difficult for them. But it’s not true of anyone to say that they’re incapable of change. All souls, no matter how afflicted and confused, are capable of returning to God over time through a process of honestly confronting the self. It’s really important for us to remember that. The belief that certain people can’t be changed is primarily the result of a false conception of how the process of change actually works.

INT: I wasn’t expecting you to get into pedophilia at this particular point. I thought we’d get into it when we talked about the organized Christianity.

•FSP: Yes, the issue has been on my mind lately.

INT: Given how controversial the issue of changing pedophiles is, though, could you give me a simpler example of how awareness promotes this organic change you’re talking about?

•FSP: A pretty mundane example would be the smoking cessation program I was in 25 years ago. The most important part of the program was that you had to wrap your cigarette pack up in a printed paper form, and then every time you got ready to light up, you had to fill out on the form what number cigarette this was for the day, what you were doing, how badly you wanted the cigarette, and what felt like the most important reason you wanted to quit in that moment. Then you could smoke the cigarette, but filling out the form interrupted the automatic smoking reflex, and it made it much easier for the body’s natural desire for health to come to the forefront.

INT: So you were able to quit?

•FSP: Six days before the quit date. Actually, another related aspect of the program was that during the last week, you had to watch yourself in the mirror while you smoked. I did that one time. It took all the fun out of smoking. I looked ridiculous to myself. When I brought awareness to what I was doing, my perception of it changed completely.

INT: How about a more interpersonal example?

•FSP: Throughout my life, I’ve had a tendency to be a little sarcastic, to put people down or make jokes at their expense. When I do that, it creates tension in the relationship. Before I understood the Teachings, I used to feel shame whenever I would do that, which would cause me either to beat myself up for it or to push my tendency out of my awareness. But no matter how many times I would beat myself up for it, my tendency to do it never changed in any really significant way.

When I became familiar with the Teachings, though, I began to confront my tendency to do this, without beating myself up for it, i.e., without giving in to the pride-based illusion that “I should be more evolved than this.” I would just say, “I have a tendency to put other people down. I do this partly to compensate for my own feelings of inadequacy; partly because I feel hostile towards other people, which is really an externalization of an attitude I have towards myself; and partly because I get a misguided thrill out of having that kind of tension exist between myself and others. I also feel safer when there’s a little distance in a relationship, and so I like the fact that these sorts of comments push other people away. Those are my motivations. The effect my behavior has on others is to activate their own negative judgments about themselves and to want to pull away from me. The way my behavior relates to spiritual law is that it breaks the law of love in particular, and also the law of equality and the law of connection. So it can’t really be doing me any good to act this way.”

INT: You actually had that whole long conversation with yourself?

•FSP: Not quite. In any given instance, I would probably go through one or just a few pieces of what I just said, and often it was a matter of just holding an awareness rather than having the actual words go through my mind, but in the long run this is the overall awareness that I developed.

INT: And by virtue of doing this, you were able to change the behavior?

•FSP: By virtue of the fact that I did this, and that while I was doing it, I was coming from an attitude of self-acceptance, I became less likely to have the impulse to say something negative, less likely to want to follow the impulse if I did have it, and more likely to own it and apologize if I did follow the impulse — over a period of a few years. But I really want to stress that the attitude of self-acceptance is the key to making the process work, and an important aspect of that attitude is the understanding that self-rejection is ultimately based in pride.

INT: How so?

•FSP: When we self-reject, we’re saying, “I should be better than this.” We’re not accepting ourselves as who we are, because we’re invested in an image of ourselves as being above and beyond that. We’ll be talking about this a lot when we get to the details of the human psyche.

On a personal level: Do you have any behavior patterns about which you reject yourself and beat yourself up? Do you resolve to try harder to break them in the future and then find yourself repeating them in spite of all your resolve? Sit quietly with the possibility that resolve and self-rejection aren’t the pathways to real change, but that the answer lies in self-awareness. How does that way of looking at things affect you?

INT: Okay, so the idea is to watch ourselves and analyze why we do things, and to accept whatever it is we see?

•FSP: The idea is to watch ourselves, to be honest about what we see, and to ask ourselves questions about why we act the way we do and have the thoughts, feelings and attitudes that we do. It’s not crucial to come up with brilliant answers to these questions, but the more we understand our motivations, the easier it is to stop judging and really confront ourselves. Most of us think that we accomplish something by judging ourselves harshly, but all that really accomplishes is to make us less willing to look at ourselves. The focus has to be on acknowledgment, not on self-punishment. It’s constructive to give ourselves accurate information about who we really are at this stage in our development. Then, once we’ve been honest about ourselves in a compassionate, non-judging way, we can look at the effects of our behavior and the relationship of our behavior to spiritual law.

INT: You know, I’m thinking about this from a psychotherapeutic framework, and it seems to me that you’re leaving something out.

•FSP: What do you mean?

INT: Well, you mention your feelings of inadequacy, but you don’t say anything about looking into what might have caused those feelings, or about dealing with the feelings themselves.

•FSP: Oh, good point. That is an important aspect of the process and I probably haven’t given it the emphasis it deserves. There might be a little bit of a difference in emphasis, though, as compared to traditional therapy. From the point of view of the Teachings, the question of “why do I feel inadequate?” is important because if I can tap into early experiences which I interpreted as evidence of my inadequacy, those experiences can be gateways for me to feeling painful feelings I’ve been avoiding since childhood. And allowing myself to feel those feelings will open up choked-off emotional gateways and allow me to experience all of life more fully.

It’s also important in terms of identifying basic beliefs I have about myself and about my life, which subtly govern the way I behave and cause me to attract negative experiences to myself. The more clearly I can articulate a specific negative belief I hold, such as “I am stupid,” for instance. the more I can question its validity, and the more I can observe the way it creates pain for me in my life.

Also, the more I can connect my beliefs and feelings to these events in my life, the easier it is for me to accept them. Without the benefit of a connection to a specific event, I might have difficulty getting past the attitude that I’m “weird” or “messed up” for having a particular psychological “issue.” But when I see that issue in a historical context, it makes it easier to observe it without judgment. For instance, someone might tend to judge themselves harshly about their tendency to eat a lot when they’re upset, and it might make it easier for them to accept themselves when they see the connection to a parent soothing them and rewarding them with candy when they were a child.

Now, all of that is pretty consistent with psychotherapy. Where the Teachings and traditional psychotherapy differ is that while psychotherapy will point to my father’s aloofness when I was a child as a “cause” of my belief that I don’t deserve to be loved, the Teachings say that my belief that I don’t deserve to be loved “caused” me to incarnate into a family with an emotionally withdrawn father. On a practical level, it doesn’t make all that much difference in terms of how we work through our beliefs and feelings, but there is that difference in terms of conceptual framework. The Teachings never frame any of what we experience in terms of our being “victims.” The idea is always that whatever negativity we attract is there for a reason, in order to teach us something.

On a personal level: Think about something particularly painful which happened in your life. When you consider relating to that as something which was meant to teach you a valuable spiritual lesson, how do you feel? Is there any aspect of optimism, or any sense of possibility for growth, in your reaction? Is there any aspect of resentment or resistance around letting go of being a victim of random circumstance? Whatever you find in this inner exploration, just let it rest in your awareness.

INT: So I’m hearing you say that the process is very similar to the process of therapy, just with a slightly different conceptual framework. Is there anything the Teachings have to offer in terms of a process for personal and spiritual growth which is actually unique to the Teachings?

§2:12. What to Do with Our Knowledge of Spiritual Law — Our Moments of Disharmony as Related to Our Imperfections and Images

•FSP: There is a daily process we can go through to make sure all of this doesn’t escape our attention. Basically, it involves looking back at the events of the last 24 hours and paying attention to all the moments in which we felt some sort of disharmony.

INT: Disharmony?

•FSP: Good things to look for are fear, shame, anger, sadness, or subtle variations on those feelings. For example, “stress” might really be broken down into fear for these purposes, or possibly fear in conjunction with some other emotion, such as anger.

INT: And when we’ve identified these things, what do we do with them?

•FSP: Write them down, and then compare them to some information we’ve already compiled about ourselves, namely our list of personal imperfections and our list of images.

INT: So, what’s a list of personal imperfections?

•FSP: Well, basically, one sits down and, as objectively as possible, writes down a list of all the things about one’s self which indicate spiritual immaturity and then organizes that information into a reasonably concise list. As I mentioned before, the Teachings refer to these things as “faults.” I’m more comfortable with the word, “imperfections,” or another word which seems to work for me is “flaws.”

INT: Could you give an example of such a list?

•FSP: Actually, I brought along a personal imperfections list I did for myself. It’s not complete, but it does express a number of my personal limitations. Could I read it to you?

INT: Please.

•FSP: Just bear in mind that when we say we have certain personal imperfections, we’re not talking only about things which consistently rule our behavior. For instance, I’m often able to rise above the influence of many of the things on my list, largely because I’ve made the effort to identify them and take responsibility for them. Nevertheless, they are still subtle aspects of who I am, expressing to some extent in my feelings, thoughts and attitudes if not necessarily in my behavior. And therefore, it’s still very important that I make the effort to be aware of them.

INT: Why, exactly?

•FSP: Why is it important for me to be aware of these things?

INT: Why is it very important to keep working on being aware of something if it doesn’t have a major influence on your behavior any more?

•FSP: Because even if the influence of some personal imperfection is muted at this point, it continues to operate on a subtle level to attract slightly negative experiences, and to cut me off from my higher self.

INT: Did you just give me two separate reasons, or is attracting negative experiences pretty much the same thing as being cut off from your higher self?

•FSP: They go hand in hand, but they’re not quite the same. Attracting negative experience refers to the quality of the feedback the Universe is giving me for the energy I’m putting out into the world. Being cut off from my higher self refers more to the inner experience of being me — the fact that it’s difficult for me to connect to the source of divine consciousness within me. That condition is limiting and unpleasant in itself, regardless of the external circumstances of the moment. It’s like a consciousness-related equivalent of having a cold. Things just don’t feel as good as they would if everything was internally right.

INT: Okay. I’m tempted to ask you all sorts of questions about that, but I don’t want to get too far off track. Why don’t we go back to your list?

•FSP: I think that’s probably a good idea. And we’ll definitely get back to the nature of the higher self when we talk about the human psyche in detail. In any event, here’s my partial list of personal imperfections:

Arrogant; assume I know everything; unwilling to be taught
Assume I’m smarter and more evolved than everyone else
Mock other people (at least in my own mind) for vulnerability, self-consciousness, “stupidity,” dependency
Want other people to know I’m “better;” want to be acknowledged as “right”
Hog conversational airtime; show off
Lazy; procrastinate
Don’t really extend myself to people
Don’t always follow through on commitments
Assume the worst about other people
Blame others for my anger
Subtly punish people for not seeing themselves clearly
Criticize people publicly
Don’t mark my boundaries clearly; lure people into violating
Don’t always say what I think or need
Don’t listen to my own inner guidance
Don’t respect my body
Don’t live up to my own standards but hold others to them

INT: Wow.

•FSP: What?

INT: I don’t know. My first impulse was to make a joke about what a lot of stuff that all is, but really I think what strikes me is how willing you are to say all these bad things about yourself. I mean, most of what you just said is probably true of me in the subtle sort of way you’re referring to, but I can’t imagine myself just putting it out there like that.

•FSP: Well, first, let me make it clear that no one’s required to share their list of imperfections publicly. I’m doing it right now for this specific purpose. But apart from that, I’m curious about your question. Just hypothetically, why do you think this would be difficult for you?

INT: It just goes against the whole social grain. I’m supposed to be convincing everyone else how cool and pulled together I am. Maybe if I make an occasional self-deprecating joke I can convey the impression that I’m emotionally secure. But to just lay out all this stuff. It feels inappropriate.

•FSP: Are you worried that you might be embarrassing other people if you did that?

INT: Well, it would make them uncomfortable.

•FSP: Why, do you think?

INT: Probably it would just remind everybody of how much stuff about themselves they were keeping hidden.

•FSP: Including keeping hidden from themselves, maybe.

INT: Right. It’s like we’re all on this ocean liner which is sinking and we’re all playing cards and having fun in the casino and then someone reminds everybody that we’re going down. It kills the mood.

•FSP: Yes, but we’re not on a doomed ship. We all have the capacity to return to the divine community. Compared to the spiritual reality, the picture you just painted is notably pessimistic.

INT: Hmm. I suppose I should give that some thought. But let me bring up another objection to your imperfections list. I’m wondering whether this type of stuff really applies to everyone. My wife, for instance, is a really sweet person. She never says anything bad about anyone. If she were to sit down and do a list like this, it would probably have three things on it.

On a personal level: What about you? Let’s assume that on the whole, you want to be a kind, compassionate, honest, “good” person.” Are there levels of feeling, thought and/or behavior which run counter to the type of person you aspire to be? Do any of the imperfections in the former Simon Peter’s list apply to you, even a little bit? Can you think of others? Contemplate one or more personal imperfections or flaws of yours. How do you feel when you manifest this flaw? How willing are you to accept your personal imperfections and love yourself in spite of them? Gently observe the imperfect aspects of yourself, as well as your feelings about them.

•FSP: I think what you’re saying is probably true of a lot of spiritual seekers. Before I go any further, I want to ask if I have your permission to ask just one or two questions and make one or two speculations about your wife. I don’t want to presume or to insult you in any way, but you have brought something up which is really worth exploring. Are you okay with us pursuing this in a very general, not deeply personal way?

INT: Ask me a question, and if I have a problem with it, I’ll let you know.

•FSP: In your judgment, does your wife generally treat herself as kindly and lovingly as she deserves to be treated?

INT: Yes and no. Not always.

•FSP: Have you ever seen your wife act in negative ways that you might think of as “not herself,” when she’s unusually stressed or tired?

INT: I suppose. A couple of times.

•FSP: Is it your impression that she felt guilty or ashamed about those instances? Maybe that she hadn’t lived up to a standard she has for herself?

INT: Probably.

•FSP: Thank you. That’s all I’m going to ask you. Now I’m going to make some comments, with the understanding that while they tend to be true in general, I’m in no position to say for a fact whether or not they apply to your wife. Okay?

INT: Go ahead.

•FSP: First of all, the way someone behaves towards others isn’t the only indication of whether they have personal flaws or imperfections. For instance, “always put the happiness of others before my own” is an imperfection which could appear on the lists of a lot of sweet and lovely people. When someone doesn’t treat themselves with the love they deserve, that’s generally a sign that some sort of misconception is at work and some sort of negativity is being directed at the self, perhaps in a very subtle and unconscious way. So it’s worthwhile to uncover what that’s all about, because it’s only when we are able to observe these tendencies clearly and dispassionately that we can really grow out of them.

Second, when someone who is normally very sweet and kind acts in a negative way, we’re seeing a part of that person which is contrary to their higher self, but which is nevertheless an aspect of their overall makeup. To go back to an image we were using earlier, we’re seeing the dirt on the light bulb. And while it’s true that this negativity is “not who they are” in the sense that it’s not their divine core and it’s not who they aspire to be, on another level, they are in fact carrying this negative energy — just like every other human being on Earth. It’s just that they’re doing a very good job of not letting that energy express in their behavior. It’s only when stress or fatigue diminishes their ability to exert that kind of control — which they may normally be able to do without even being aware of the effort — that the negativity energy slips out. And then the shame they feel is an indication that this negative energy isn’t integrated. It’s not something they accept and forgive themselves for. There’s an internal pressure not to be someone who carries this type of energy. And when all of this is true about someone, they have something to gain from doing the work the Teachings recommend, because in the long run, they’re not going to have to expend all that internal energy to keep the negativity at bay. They’re actually going to grow out of that negativity instead, and that’s going to make all that energy which is tied up in control available for other things, like spontaneous creativity and joy.

None of that is to say that your wife isn’t a very nice and sweet person, and she may in fact be very far along spiritually and carrying a relatively light load of negativity. But it’s important not to let ourselves be hypnotized by someone’s positive aspects. There’s always a dark side somewhere — or we could say a spiritually immature side — and it’s always worthwhile to get to know it.

Was that all okay, from your point of view?

INT: I don’t have any problem with it. It makes sense on a general level, and like you said, it might or might not apply to my wife specifically.

•FSP: Great. Anyway, that’s an introduction to the imperfections list. The other list it’s useful to have is an image list.

INT: And by “image,” you mean what exactly?

•FSP: I mean a false conclusion about the nature of reality which is so ingrained in our minds that we don’t question it, and which is constantly reinforced by the kind of experience we attract to ourselves. So, based on what you’ve said, you might have as one of your images, “I’m part of something which is doomed and the only thing I can do is ignore the coming catastrophe and pretend to have fun.” And that image might be the result of an interpretation of your life situation at an early age, and it could very well have past-life roots as well.

INT: Could you give me some examples of how that image might have come into being?

•FSP: Ultimately, it came into being as a result of the distortion of personal energies which occurred during the separation from God, which is something we’re going to talk about in more detail next time. However, a childhood situation which might have reinforced such an image could have been something like knowing that one of your parents was terminally ill and that there was nothing you could do about it. And a past-life situation could have been that same thing, or, for example, being in a city that was under siege by a foreign army.

INT: Okay. So did you bring along an image list of your own to go with your imperfections list?

•FSP: I did, actually. Again, this is certainly just a partial list:

There is no room in the world for me to be myself
If I really put myself out, I will fail spectacularly and be humiliated
Real pleasure comes from receiving without giving
People are too stupid to understand me
Any group I join will expel me
I am irretrievably polluted by weird and evil impulses I cannot trust
I do not have, and cannot get, enough
I cannot withstand confrontation
Women want to control me
Anger makes me strong and invulnerable
I do not deserve to be happy
If I allow myself to enjoy someone or something fully, they/it will be taken away
I can’t follow through on what I start
Everybody sucks — which really means “everybody will eventually disappoint me or hurt my feelings”

INT: Wow, again. It’s hard to imagine being very happy with all of that floating around in your brain.

•FSP: Tell me about it … Especially since all of these images have an influence on me which actually causes me to attract experiences which confirm my images.

INT: Can you spell that out a little?

•FSP: Well, we’ve already talked about the selfish guy who triggers selfish behavior in others which reinforces his belief that everyone is selfish and that therefore he needs to be selfish as well. In a similar vein, do you remember what I said last time about the image I have that I have to put on a mask or other people will reject me, and how that belief causes me to act in ways which are slightly annoying because they’re not real?

INT: Which causes people to reject you …

•FSP: Which confirms my image that there’s something unlikable about me which I have to cover up with a mask.

INT: Yes, I do remember that. And I see the connection. So how does someone go about putting an images list together?

•FSP: A good way to do it is to spend some time thinking about your entire life, and jotting down all the times that have caused you disharmony of some kind — for instance, anger, shame, sadness, fear, stress — and then looking for the common themes. Just kind of write a caption for the pictures you’re seeing in your mind, or state the beliefs about life which seem to be illustrated.

INT: My whole life? That could take days!

•FSP: It could, but after a few hours, you’d most likely have enough material to be able to come up with a list of your major images. Also, if there’s something that happened over and over, you don’t have to write down each instance separately. One overall notation will do.

INT: Still, that’s quite a commitment.

•FSP: And that brings us right up against the law of paying the price. Real spiritual growth takes work. For some reason, we’re almost always a little reluctant to come to terms with that reality. And yet there’s no way around it.

On a personal level: Take a few moments to get an images list started by thinking about negative generalizations you might have about life. Do any of the ones in the former Simon Peter’s list resonate for you? What about recurring negative themes in your life? Does anything suggestive of negative life patterns come up for you if you complete the sentences “I never [blank]” or “I always [blank]”?

INT: Okay, let’s say I get over my resistance to making the effort required in order to evolve and that I come up with these two lists. Now what?

•FSP: Now when you consider the disharmonious moments in the previous 24 hours, you can see them as repetitions of these basic themes in your life, and you can focus your attention on what it is that you’re spiritually confused about. Not so that you can indoctrinate yourself to believe the “right” thing instead, but so that you can see yourself in the mirror, as in the smoking cessation program. It changes your perspective, and then it gradually changes who you are.

INT: I’d really appreciate a specific example of how this imperfections and images thing could be useful.

•FSP: Okay. Let’s suppose that I try a new business venture. I go into it with a lot of enthusiasm, but then over time my enthusiasm wanes. I don’t do some things I ought to do to make sure the business stays healthy and grows, and it goes under. I lose my investment of time, effort and money and I feel humiliated. The images which are reinforced by this are that I can’t follow through on what I start, and that if I really put myself out, I will fail spectacularly and be humiliated. On top of that, I beat myself up for failing and convince myself even further that I don’t deserve to be happy. Now if I leave it at that, there’s no reason to expect that I’m going to grow or change in a positive way and that my future efforts are going to meet with any greater measure of success.

Now let’s suppose I look at the whole experience more deeply. Maybe I discover that I really didn’t like this business, because it wasn’t really me. Maybe my image that there is no room in the world for me to be myself influenced me to invest in a business I didn’t enjoy. Maybe my prideful belief that I know everything there is to know influenced me not to get guidance I could have gotten which would have made it possible for me to establish the business successfully. Maybe once I discover these aspects, I’m not so convinced any more that I can’t follow through on what I start. Maybe understanding my decision to do something I don’t enjoy makes it easier for me to accept the fact that I didn’t do what was necessary to succeed, and to understand that I failed not because I’m doomed to fail, but because I chose the wrong endeavor. And maybe all of that induces me to think long and hard about what I really want to do in my life, thus preventing me from making the same mistake again.

INT: So in this example the imperfections and images work is really focusing you on understanding your mistakes so you won’t repeat them, instead of punishing yourself and setting yourself up for another round of failure.

•FSP: Exactly.

INT: Well, apart from the resistance I feel to making this kind of an effort, I’m also thinking that if I were going to do all this, I would want someone to check in with about it, to help me reality-test about myself. For instance, am I really as compassionate as I think I am? Otherwise, I could put in all this time and not really get to the bottom of anything.

•FSP: The law of connection applies to doing our spiritual work. While there’s a lot we can do on our own, there’s also a point at which we reach a limit. We need the stimulation and the feedback of working with other people. It could be working with a therapist who understands the principles of the Teachings; it could be working with someone who teaches the principles, either individually or in a group; or it could be a sort of peer counseling situation, in which each participant is doing his or her own work and supporting others in doing the same. Actually, a really productive context in which to do this work is marriage. But we’ll talk more about that when we cover positive and negative approaches to working with the Teachings.

INT: Is there anything else you want to cover about the spiritual laws and personal imperfections?

§2:13. Personal Imperfections as Related to Pride, Self-Will and Fear

•FSP: Yes, there’s one more thing. In terms of understanding our imperfections, or flaws, it’s helpful to know the three basic errors from which all others spring, namely, pride, self-will, and fear. No matter what anyone thinks about themselves, everyone has these three hindrances to perfection at least to some extent, and all other imperfections can be traced back to one or more of these.

INT: Can you provide some definitions?

•FSP: Pride is considering your desires and your vanity to be more important than that of the other. For instance, if you feel the humiliation of another less than your own, which of course almost everyone does, that’s a symptom of pride.

INT: And why is pride such a bad thing?

•FSP: First of all, it’s inaccurate. Spiritually, no matter how misguided some people on the planet might be, you and I are not “better” than anyone else. God loves each and every one of us fully and equally, and we’re all divine at our cores. At the same time, in the grand scheme of spiritual reality, none of us here on Earth really have it together at the moment. We’re disconnected from the divine community and we have considerably unrealistic ideas about what the Universe is all about. When we indulge our pride, we’re pretending none of that is true. And anything which is based on untruth can only bring negative results in its wake.

Second, pride breaks the laws of love, equality and connection. When I’m caught up in my pride, I cause pain to others by reminding them of their own negative judgments about themselves; I treat them as being less important than I am; and I avoid the possibility of real connection between us, which impoverishes both of us.

And third, pride gives rise to fear, because we know unconsciously that it’s a distortion of the truth, so we’re always worried about that humiliating moment when we’re going to be exposed for who we really are.

On a personal level: How does the idea that you (along with the rest of the human race) might be misunderstanding spiritual reality sit with you on an emotional level? Regardless of how you see the matter intellectually, is there an emotional pressure to see yourself as someone who understands everything already? If so, just quietly feel and observe it.

INT: So that leads me to the question, what’s so bad about fear?

•FSP: Did you ever read “Dune,” by Frank Herbert, or see the movie?

INT: Both.

•FSP: Do you remember the incantation that Paul speaks at the beginning when the priestess puts his hand in that pain machine?

INT: “Fear is the mind killer?”

•FSP: Right.

INT: I don’t remember the rest.

•FSP: It says that he will let the fear pass through him, and then when it’s gone, only he will remain. It speaks to the fact that unless we know how to remain grounded in the midst of our fear — which very few of us do — then fear “kills” our higher mind, by taking us out of connection to the divine, and makes us vulnerable to the influence of our lower impulses.

INT: And how would one avoid that?

•FSP: Avoid losing our groundedness when we feel fear?

INT: Yes.

•FSP: Mainly by allowing ourselves to feel it fully. Breathe into it. Stay present, rather than fleeing from it mentally. Experience it without resistance, until it subsides on its own.

INT: Isn’t that incredibly hard to do?

•FSP: It’s definitely hard to do. It’s kind of like not scratching an itch. But most of us don’t even give it a try, whereas the more we attempt it, the easier it actually gets.

On a personal level: What is your relationship to fear? Do you numb it, deny it, suppress it, or rationalize it away? Do you get caught up in it? To what extent are you able to just “be” with fear until it subsides on its own?

INT: Okay. What about self-will?

•FSP: Self-will is the will of the little ego, which blindly strives to get whatever it wants, without understanding that whatever is against spiritual law can’t possibly be of benefit to the self. Whenever we want something which is wrong, impossible, or in contradiction the deepest aspects of our self, that want is an expression of self-will.

INT: And you said that all personal imperfections spring from these basic three?

•FSP: Right. So whenever we feel disharmony, instead of avoiding it or rationalizing it, we would be better off allowing ourselves to feel it without resistance and then tracing the connections to these three flaws.

INT: Could you illustrate?

•FSP: Sure. Let’s go back to my imperfections list, and let’s look at the connections we can see there. For instance, let’s consider the characteristics which might have a basis in pride. For starters, there’s:

Arrogant; assume I know everything; unwilling to be taught
Assume I’m smarter and more evolved than everyone else
Mock other people (at least in my own mind) for vulnerability, self-consciousness, “stupidity,” dependency
Want other people to know I’m “better;” want to be acknowledged as “right”
Hog conversational airtime; show off

Are the way those relate to pride pretty clear?

INT: I suppose, although I can also see where there might be a connection to insecurity.

•FSP: That’s the fear part. Where there’s a prideful attitude that we’re better than other people, there’s also fear that the pretense behind the attitude is going to be exposed, and that we’re going to be humiliated in the process.

INT: Okay, but my point was more that there might be a negative attitude about the self that was being compensated for.

•FSP: No doubt. That’s a piece of the puzzle. But negative self-assessment relates to the existence of pride in the sense that where there’s pride there’s also pretense — in other words, an investment in a glorified picture of who we really are, and a tendency to present that glorified picture to others — and the pretense leads to self-contempt for not being authentic, which leads in turn to more pride as compensation for that contempt.

INT: All right. I guess I’m just wondering which came first.

•FSP: I’m not sure there is a “first.” I think both pride and self-contempt might have originated together in the separation from God, which is something we’ll talk more about that next time. In any event, I’m not sure it really matters.

INT: Maybe not … . Getting more specific, then, could you spell out how hogging conversational airtime is pride?

•FSP: It’s considering my desire to speak to be more important than the desires of those I’m speaking to.

INT: I see.

•FSP: Could I point out some other flaws I see as connected to pride?

INT: Please.

•FSP: I’ll just do a few more:

Assume the worst about other people — This is just the flip side of assuming I’m special. The result is the same: I’m assuming I’m better than others.
Don’t listen to my own inner guidance — I act this way because my ego thinks it knows better.
Don’t live up to my own standards but hold others to them — I act this way because I think somehow I’m entitled to slack which other people don’t deserve.

INT: Okay. I can see all that.

•FSP: Now let me point out some self-will connections:

Lazy; procrastinate — I act this way because I want something for nothing.

INT: Don’t want to pay the price?

•FSP: Correct.

INT: And that’s self-will?

•FSP: Yes, it’s the will of the little ego, which wants what it wants, without being willing to pay the price. Remember that I said whenever we want something impossible, the want is an expression of self-will? Well, wanting to get something without paying the price for it is wanting something which is spiritually impossible.

INT: And tell me again why self-will is bad.

•FSP: Self-will is limiting because it keeps me from getting very much of what I want or need. To the extent that self-will wants things which are against our deepest nature, it makes us like a hungry person in a supermarket who will only buy what’s in the candy aisle. We get a superficial pleasure, but we don’t get what will really sustain us. And to the extent that we don’t want to pay the price, we’re like a hungry person in a supermarket who doesn’t want to spend any of money. There’s all this abundance around us, but we don’t get to enjoy any of it.

INT: Okay.

•FSP: Some other obvious examples of self-will in the list are


And then there are some more subtle connections. for instance:

Arrogant; assume I know everything; unwilling to be taught — This reflects self-will because being taught means not being in control.

INT: How does the idea of being in control connect to what you said about the little ego striving to get what it wants?

•FSP: If I’m in control, then I can make sure I get what I want.

INT: Okay, but couldn’t there also be a fear aspect, in the sense that if you’re not in control, then something bad might happen to you?

•FSP: Definitely. Good point. And by the way, that really illustrates the interplay among these three flaws. I’m just giving you the quick associations I have to each of these core imperfections, but wherever there’s one, the other two can’t be that far behind. For instance, consider:

Want other people to know I’m “better;” want to be acknowledged as “right” — This is pretty obviously pride, but it’s also self-will because if I’m seen this way, then that gives me a basis for claiming the right to be in control. And it’s also fear, because if I’m wrong, then not only don’t I enjoy the status of being right, but the world isn’t what I imagine it to be and I can’t be sure I’m safe.

INT: I think I get the general idea. At least, I get what pride and self-will are about, and I see how there’s fear around the possibility that the reality of who we are will be exposed, or that we might not get what we want. Is there a separate component to the fear aspect, or is that pretty much the big picture?

•FSP: I would say that’s pretty much the big picture.

INT: All right. Then explain exactly how it helps you to do all this connecting of imperfections to pride, self-will and fear.

•FSP: It helps me to continually bring my awareness back to the core distortions which affect my approach to life, so I can keep seeing the ways they affect all aspects of my life experience. By looking in this mirror and repeatedly seeing the same things about myself, I’m educating myself in a way which promotes my gradual spiritual growth.

On a personal level: Contemplate some personal imperfections you see in yourself. Can you make some connections between those imperfections and pride, self-will and fear?

§2:14. Avoiding Self-Punishment as We Discover Personal Imperfection

INT: I guess I have a reservation about all of this. I see myself going through this process, assuming I could get myself to focus for long enough, and the image I get is that I’m going to feel a lot of shame and beat myself up a lot. And then I’m not going to want to do it any more because it feels bad.

•FSP: That’s a very understandable reservation. You’re expressing probably the most basic pitfall of all when it comes to trying to do this work. Unless we can allow all these things to be true about ourselves without launching into an orgy of self-punishment, we’re never going to get the benefit of the organic growth which comes from being honest.

INT: So what can we do about that?

•FSP: There are two things we can do. The first is to pray for help in approaching the process with an appropriate level of humility. If we really feel into the attitude which fuels the desire to beat ourselves up, we’ll typically find an expectation or a demand along the lines of “I should be better than this.” Fundamentally, that’s an expression of pride — of a refusal to accept the fact that each of us, at our current stage of development, is a confused soul who has a lot of things wrong, and doesn’t even know how much there really is to learn.

INT: I never really thought of that as pride, but I guess I can see where that’s accurate.

•FSP: And this is an aspect of how the spirit world is ready and willing to help us in doing this work. If we ask for help in maintaining a productively humble attitude, one way or another, our requests will be answered.

INT: Okay. So prayer for a constructive attitude is one thing we can do, and what’s the other?

•FSP: The other is to make the effort to understand as much as possible about why we are the way we are. There’s a famous French saying, “tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner” — “to understand everything is to forgive everything” — which is very wise and true. When we don’t understand negative behavior, we tend to react to it with shame. When we deeply understand it, we tend to react to it with compassion, because it exemplifies the spiritual confusion which all of us are struggling with.

INT: And how do we come to deeply understand ourselves?

•FSP: One way is to study the Teachings, which are all about the details of the human psyche, and to apply the general principles we find there to find the specifics about ourselves.

INT: And that’s where we’re going next?

•FSP: Before we get into what the Teachings have to say about the human psyche, it would be good to talk about the nature of God and the Creation and the principles of reincarnation. First we’ll complete the spiritual framework. Then we’ll look at the psychological framework, within that complete spiritual context.

INT: All right. I’m very curious about all of that.

On a personal level: Focus your awareness on the thing you least like about yourself. Feel the discomfort it causes you to hold your attention there. Feel the energy of avoidance and self-rejection, without struggling with it or fixing it.

Now visualize yourself accepting that this thing you don’t like is a temporary aspect of who you are, and giving yourself permission to be this imperfect at the moment, with a faithful understanding that in time, you’ll grow beyond this stage of development. What might you have to let go of to be in that emotional place? How might it affect your life to relate to yourself in this way

© 2007, 2008


4 Responses to “A chapter from my upcoming book”

  1. Ellen B. said

    Thanks for posting this chapter. I found this format to be very helpful – with a lot of great examples and practical explanations. I find it much more motivating to want to apply the “Teachings” once I’m able to fully understand the reasoning – you are really able to break down the material in a way that makes sense. It’s valuable and very much appreciated.

  2. skywhale said

    I can’t thank you enough for that encouragement. The book is on hold right now as I deal with some overwhelming logistics in my life, and then I’d like to go back for one more pass and publish. Up until now, very few people have seen it, so I haven’t had much opportunity to receive feedback. A comment like this goes a long way in confirming my vision of the book’s usefulness, and refueling my ambition to follow through.

    So . . . thank you!


  3. Carol said

    When will you be publishing your book? Your writings are very helpful. I’ve had difficulty with the certain concepts in the lectures and I’m thinking now that it could be some laziness on my part to grapple with the concepts or it could just be that like Jesus, the guide spoke to the level of consciousness of society at the time it was channeled.

    At the time words like awareness and manifesting weren’t used in mainstream conversations. Now these words and many more are flying around our planet via the Internet without the depth of the Pathwork teachings.

    Or could it be that by making the work more clear we won’t have to put in as much effort and pay the price. You have obviously paid a big price in time and effort by doing these writings.

    • Skywhale said

      Forgive me for such a long delay in replying. I have not been doing much work with the Lectures of late. I have been integrating what I have already learned. My sense is that there is something indefinably missing from the book, or perhaps that the book is slight;y corrupted by an ego-based energy, or most likely both. I’m trusting that a time will come back around for me to go through it and edit it again, and that the result will inspire me to push for publication in a way that I haven’t so far. THANK YOU for your feedback — it means a lot.

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