79 QUESTION: After a year of working on the Path, both the person I work with and myself feel that I have dissolved a very important image. Is this true, and can you give me any help for our further work?
ANSWER: It is perfectly true what you say. However, as all of you know by now, one has to be on guard. To really shed an image is not a sudden thing. It is not that you find it and then it is automatically gone. After finding it, you feel a tremendous relief, enlightenment, and victory due to the insight and understanding you gain about your entire life and yourself. But do not forget that the human psyche is habit-bound; it is geared to function in a certain groove, so to speak.
After many years of constantly repeated habit patterns, these inner habit patterns are established. When not constantly watched and observed as they function in the most hidden, subtle and unobtrusive ways, one slips back inadvertently. However, the knowledge of the finding remains. Due to this success, one may react differently and healthily in some areas of one’s life, while a part of one’s emotional reactions still follow the old pattern, unbeknownst to the consciousness.
If this is not realistically envisaged, the person may be under the impression of having fully solved a problem, while this is only partly so. Where it is not, you get entangled and all the more blocked and blinded, just because you do not realize this pitfall. Then, if after further disharmonies and depressions, you again find the very facet you were convinced had been resolved, disappointment and discouragement may be a greater stumbling block than the problem itself.
Therefore, I cannot impress upon you strongly enough that the fact of finding, understanding, and even changing to some extent, does not mean that remnants of the same old habit patterns do not remain. They have to be constantly observed in your daily review, and in your work on this Path. Watch your emotional reactions, analyze them, try to understand them, and work them through each time anew.
Do not become discouraged if you still find part of your old ways persisting in you. Expect this to happen, and this finding will in turn bring you more and more insight, liberation, happiness and growth.
For the moment, the finding should simply help you to understand why, at least for a while, you cannot help feeling and reacting in a certain way. Further insight resulting from uninterrupted effort and perseverance will eventually change this. All that you should expect now is that each time you observe part of your being reacting the old way, you gain additional insight and understanding. You broaden the view you have gained so far.
By doing this, you yourself will produce the material that needs to be worked on. Your inner guidance will show you clearly how to proceed. I only point the way in certain directions if and when a person is stuck and cannot get out of a vicious circle in the work. Whatever disturbs or bothers you, whatever oppresses you at any given moment, this is the material that should be discussed in your work. And you will see that out of this you will derive further insight and progress.
110 QUESTION: Can you give us some information about the power of habit in a person, again in relation to role-playing? Could a person assume a habit and then have difficulty shedding it because it has become a habit, even though he recognizes the harm?
ANSWER: Whenever an inner habit – a habit of attitude – is difficult to shed, it would be an oversimplification, a lack of depth-understanding, to simply explain this away by saying “it is a habit.” A habit is easily shed if the attitude in question does not serve a purpose. It is difficult, or even impossible, to get rid of it if one believes it fulfills a vital function.
Such a conviction may be entirely unconscious, while consciously the person may recognize its harm and wish to free himself of it. If one has difficulty in spite of it, the road to take is to investigate the way in which one unconsciously holds onto it because one feels the habit is a protection, a solution, a necessity.
Once this is brought out into the open and considered with the power of reasoning and truth that is unavailable in the deeper regions of the confused part of the unconscious mind, one will then be able to shed the habit.
The first step in such a case is to detect the reaction of fright, or anxiety, or feelings of loss, or merely the unwillingness to look further in this respect. Once you begin to acknowledge these reactions, you will have a stronghold on the unconscious belief that you need this habit.
Thereupon you can go further and find out why you believe that. Subsequently you will recognize how unreasonable such a belief is. It then becomes easy to shed it. This even applies to physical habits that are destructive and difficult to get rid of.
Always keep in mind that as long as you do feel anxiety or unwillingness at the thought of shedding the habit, in spite of also desiring to do so, you are not forced to give it up simply because you understand what is behind it and why you wish to preserve it.
You have a right to maintain it. But, at least, understand it. Then make your decision freely. This thought may help greatly in overcoming any resistance. I said this before, but it needs repetition because you forget these things.