79 QUESTION: I’m working with one of our group members. She is scared to go into the subway. She gets physically ill when she does. This is certainly due to psychological reasons, but could there also be physical causes?
ANSWER: No. My advice here is not to work and concentrate on this issue. This is an indirect manifestation or symptom of something else. It can only be solved when you get to the roots of the problem, but you will not find the roots by working on this question directly. If you examine everything that bothers her, that disturbs or depresses her, when you work it through, you will see that all these things have the same common denominator.
To find this will take more time. You will find the inner reactions to this subway problem similar to other aspects of life. Then you will see that the subway problem is more a symbol than a symptom of the underlying core.
QUESTION: We found something, and she was relieved. Then two days later it started all over again.
ANSWER: Because you only found a part of the whole, a small segment of it. Each true insight will produce relief, but only temporarily, if these insights are but fragmentary. Permanent relief can only come when the whole picture is unrolled, which, of course, is impossible in such a short time. The relief is a sign that you are on the right track, which does not mean that you have to persist in the same direction. You might have to go to another area in order to progress.
QA169 QUESTION: At certain stages in my life, I’ve developed phobias. Could you give your interpretation of what causes phobias and how to work with them?
ANSWER: A phobia is always a displacement from the real cause. If one is afraid of looking at the real cause because it is painful or shameful or disagreeable in any way, then one hides it, one conceals it from oneself. Then, since this is an utterly unrealistic process and nothing can be resolved that way, it comes up on another level and in another way.
Like a dream symbolizes one’s inner problem, so a phobia may symbolize something – some aspect or quality of the specific inner problem. For example, a person who has a phobia about dirt and who has a wash compulsion – as one of my dear friends has – this often implies the secret feeling, “I am dirty; I’m unacceptable.”
A person who has a phobia about heights may unconsciously be terrified of falling into the depth of his feelings and not giving himself to his feelings, not really letting go, always having to be on guard with his intellect.
A person who has a phobia about so-called claustrophobia or being closed in is usually inwardly completely constricted and trapped in his own mesh of confusion. Would you want to ask me about a specific phobia? Maybe I can help you with that.
QUESTION: Fear of disease – cancer.
ANSWER: Yes. Well, the fear of disease is often a result of closing up one’s energies because of the fear of feeling. You see, there’s a connection between the fear of falling, which is giving oneself to the feelings, and therefore if the feelings cannot flow freely, the energy streams are interrupted.
Therefore, as a fear of life – you know, if you fear your feelings, you fear life – you, in a way, attract or want death – the state of death where you do not feel. Therefore one fears then, outwardly, the result of it. The energies are trapped.
Not only does that create disease in actuality but also the desire not to be alive creates the opposite result – this means death, figuratively speaking. I do not mean now that you expect death imminently, but the person who is afraid of death is always the person who is afraid of life. In that sense, one does not give oneself to the life feelings, to the life processes within.
QUESTION: I’d like to ask about a phobia where you have to touch something three times every time you walk past it for good luck. Or else I have a fear that I’m not going to have good luck or something more of that nature, like a little habit one might get into.
ANSWER: This is superstition. And superstition is always an evasion in one form or another. It is always hoping for easy, simple ways that avoid the real problem. “If I do this, things will go well.” It always implies a passivity and a helplessness and a dependency on powers other than the self, which one then placates by certain magical means.
It is a belief in magic, as all infants believe in magic, in a very deep sense. The infant is imbued with that sense of magic: “My thought will bring the fact about. I’m omnipotent. By magical means, if I want something, therefore it must be because I want it.” This is of that, and I would venture to say as you are beginning to work on this Path, that you will more and more lose these impediments that are a burden to you and that are erroneous and where you invest mind force into a wrong channel.
QUESTION: This was a few years ago, and I see now that it’s very closely related to the whole problem of ego weakness and letting it slide into something passive.
ANSWER: Yes, right, exactly, it is true.
QUESTION: I’d like to mention one phobia I just thought of that is very strong in me. It’s one of being constricted, either being trapped in a very narrow pipe or between two rocks like when climbing a mountain. You mentioned the implications of this. The constriction in me must be fantastic if I have a phobia that strong, because I’ve actually lived this out in certain situations.
ANSWER: Exactly. If the inner pictures are very strong, the outer thing then often is produced by that. But I want to say in your case, this is very specifically connected with what I said to you before: the constriction is so enormous because of the absence of the love feelings. Immediately everything will open up if you allow the love feelings to come, and they’re so near. They’re there already.