99 QUESTION: Could you talk about masochism?
ANSWER: This has been discussed in previous lectures and looked at in our work. If the entirety of the lectures is understood, and the method of our work is followed through, you will automatically understand the tendency of self-rejection called masochism. To recapitulate briefly, I would say that self-rejection may in some personality structures create a more active process of masochism. Self-rejection in itself is masochistic.
But it is a question of degree. As I have said before, if the sense of one’s unworthiness is stronger than the corresponding healthy forces, the only pleasure derived from living is found in pain. I still do not mean physical masochism; it may manifest only on a psychic level, and never physically. When it does manifest physically, it is in a very advanced state.
Since pain through rejection seems the only certain thing that one can rely on, one clings to it and does not want to give it up. Healthy pleasure seems hopelessly unattainable. In other words, masochism is a giving up. If the ego is too weak to prove the world wrong, as it were; if the person is unable to assert his right to live, love, and to have pleasure – masochism is the result.
The world seems to deny your right of selfhood, and you give in – agreeing with the world – and make pleasure out of pain in a very wrong, unhealthy, self-defeating and life-defeating way. Giving in and going with the stream, as well as fighting, are healthy processes, but both can be distorted.
Many other elements, too numerous to consider now, are also present. This core can, however, always be found. Until this core can be experienced through extensive self-finding, rather than just listening to my words describing a concept, many other levels have to be explored. On more superficial levels, you will find that self-punishment is due to guilt. The self-destructiveness derives from a certain inability to cope with problems, or the inner desire not to cope with them.
All the processes of the images we have discussed and found are really processes of masochism, because the images, whose patterns embody a negative tenet that produces a painful result, are inherently self-destructive. If this is enjoyed on some level of the psyche, then we are dealing with masochism, no matter how unaware of the enjoyment or satisfaction one may be.
The real answer can never be found in concepts, no matter how true. Such concepts may be helpful indicators to open the way so that you may experience the truth yourself, but this is all they can be. That is why so often, when questions of this sort are asked, there is a feeling of letdown and disappointment with the answer.
One expects liberation from the answer, and no answer can ever give inner liberation. Inner liberation can come only from experiencing these words as truth, and this can happen only as a result of breaking through your inner resistance, step by step. Your path will always lead exactly to where you resist most. If you have the courage to face this and cope with it, you can indeed shorten the process.
However, if you shy away from going there, you are bound to make detours, and have to come back to this point of resistance at a later time. Perhaps by then the resistance will have given way, since the unnecessary pain you encounter when you are not in the process will weaken it.
So again I say to you, my friends, examine where you find resistance accompanied by the desire to avoid looking at it. That is the very point, the very threshold you must step through at one time or another before you can become free to unclog the love channel, and live a productive life in which you feel useful and know that yours is a meaningful part. Only by tackling what you most want to shy away from will you find the door behind which lies the answer. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.
QUESTION: In connection with this, I have found that I have always shied away from sex. And I have further discovered that I feel it is a crime. As I went deeper, I discovered that, in reality, sex is pleasure. So I found that for me pleasure is a crime. And so, all along, I have sabotaged pleasure and joy. Now, although I see this and know it, I don’t know what to do about it. Can you give me a hint?
ANSWER: Yes, my dear. I believe the next step will give you the answer why you have rejected pleasure. You will then find that you reject pleasure because you reject yourself. I repeat that the knowledge alone will not be sufficient, it has to be experienced in your emotions. The continuation of this work will finally bring you this awareness.
Now, why do you reject yourself? The answer will derive partly from recognitions you have already made, which you will then tie up with this new understanding. Your rejection of happiness, joy, pleasure, life and love is in reality just a rejection of yourself. This is exactly what I discussed tonight [Lecture #99 Falsified Impressions of Parents: Their Cause and Cure]. Begin to investigate what kind of human beings your parents were, as well as others in your family.
QUESTION: In seeking to communicate, we must resort to words, of course, and unless we get to the meaning of them, they are lost. The word masochism was used. Along with it comes the opposite term of sadism. Modern schools of psychology rather use the word “algolagnia” to refer to both sadism and masochism, calling one positive, the other negative. How do you regard this?
ANSWER: This is perfectly true. There cannot be one without the other. Both are one current of inflicting pain. The so-called sadistic person inflicts pain on others as a protection for the self – a pseudo-protection, of course. At times, the very same person may find it against his interest to do so.
He may then come into conflict with his surroundings, or he may find it to his disadvantage because he fears losing the person he needs, whose love and protection he wants. So he will invert this force that exists in him due to unresolved negative tensions. He cannot simply dispense with it at will; something has to happen with it – either it goes out to another person, or he directs it to himself. Only the dissolution of this force will stop the sadistic and the masochistic current.
So these two forces are really one and the same. The only difference lies in the direction. In what direction they are used makes very little difference, in the last analysis, because if you hurt someone else, you must eventually hurt yourself. And if you hurt yourself, you must eventually hurt someone else. This is so because this current derives out of blindness, and it must make you blind. Since this current derives from a lack of understanding, it will cause you to lose your own capacity to understand. The only difference is in timing – who is affected first. The secondary reaction is then a delayed one.
Psychology has used certain terms to describe this infliction of pain. Spiritually it is absolutely true that there is this current of cruelty, and no matter toward whom it is directed in the first place, it takes its toll eventually on all concerned. It is very shortsighted to believe that masochism indicates a better character trend than sadism.