110 QUESTION: How do faith in God and hope tie in with this Path of self-purification?
ANSWER: Do you see any contradiction between our Path and faith in God and hope?
QUESTION: Well, I am referring particularly to the last lecture [Lecture #110 Hope and Faith and Other Key Concepts Discussed in Answers to Questions], when you talked about the different phases in our Pathwork. There was a time when there was very little talk about God.
ANSWER: As I have repeatedly said, the reason for that is that people invariably use God to get away from themselves. In reality, you can find God only if you come back home to your real self. As I have said so many times, so many true concepts, principles or attitudes can be distorted and become untrue, although they parade under the flag of their true version.
This may be very, very subtle, but it is nevertheless what happens in a self-deception. You can have true faith in God only to the extent that you have faith in yourself. If your lack of faith in yourself is substituted by a faith in God, God becomes a parody, an opiate, a falsity. And faith in yourself is possible only if your real self is liberated; if you have removed inner conflict as well as the illusory crutches that the psyche has built up as a substitute for true self-confidence; if you have freed yourself from real as well as false guilts.
If faith in God hinges on all these unrecognized attitudes and beliefs, it is without foundation and not genuine. The ungenuine faith may, on the surface, appear very much like its genuine counterpart. Yet the former is based on escape from unpleasant truth about the self, while the latter is not. True faith comes out of genuine conviction and inner experience; false faith covers fear, insecurity, childish needs. In order to establish true faith, all falsity has to be removed.
Even things that seem desirable have to be questioned, whether it be faith in God, unselfishness, or love for others. Each of these can be genuine or an evasion, an illusion under which fear, uncertainty and many other negative attitudes slumber. All this you know, at least in theory. Is it so difficult to understand that to find oneself, it is necessary to question everything?
If your faith in God is genuine, it will not suffer. If it is utterly healthy, it will not crumble. If it is partly so, only the part that obstructs your real God-experience will crumble.
Is it so difficult to understand that only the real self is capable of productive true experience? And hasn’t this work so far shown clearly that finding the real self calls for all of one’s efforts, concentration and willpower? How then, is it possible, to suspect, even if only vaguely, that our Pathwork is opposed to faith in God and hope? Does talking about God determine the inner attitude? Is that a yardstick for one’s nearness to God?
In the course of the individual work, every one of you has times when you encounter a streak of hopelessness. I have often said that this has to be treated as a problem in itself. It indicates something important about your unconscious attitudes.
It often reflects, in reality, a fear of relinquishing one’s false solutions, destructive attitudes, defensive walls – all of which are supposed to protect you. To give up this protection induces fear. To be called upon to do so induces hopelessness, because you cannot yet see how to operate without these crutches and cope with life without them. The same attitude is responsible for an inner unwillingness to change.
All this exists within the soul, even before it is brought out into daylight. Your superimposed hope masks an inner hopelessness that says, “If I let go of my illusions and false crutches, I have no way of living, therefore my whole life is an illusion.” This is what it amounts to.
Is that superimposed hope a reality? Is it not much better to face the underlying hopelessness until hope – as well as faith, or any other productive attitude or feeling – can grow on firm foundations, without any falsity?
To talk about artificial faith and hope as if they were genuine, while in reality they cover up their opposites, would serve only to strengthen rather than destroy the false beliefs. Faith in God and hope, like any other divine aspect, can be well rooted in the personality only if hidden opposites are faced, understood, come to terms with, and thereby dissolved.
If all this is still not understood, if it is assumed that by not talking about the reality of God this Path is leading you away from divinity, then there still exists a fundamental confusion – not so much about this Path as such, but rather about the inner self, a confusion about one’s own motivations, about the significance of one’s reactions.
In other words, self-knowledge is still lacking to a vast degree. The confusion arises out of the very problem I am discussing: covering up doubt and hopelessness with a strained faith and hopefulness, rather than having faith and hope in the Now and the self – which is always a byproduct of the genuine article.
I do not say that the covering layer does not also consist of genuine faith and hope, but it is strongly mixed with an attempt to squelch doubt, fear, evasion, illusion, hopelessness, unwillingness to change, and many other destructive attitudes.
I repeat: you do not have to talk about God in order to be in God. To face the truth within is being in God – because God is truth, and without truth there can be no love, no faith, no hope. Truth does not mean the learning of principles, philosophies, theories. You have to begin with yourself.
If your own truth remains hidden from your awareness, you have nothing to build on. Every idea you harbor, true as the idea in itself may be, remains shallow. It lacks the dynamic force of experience. And such experience can come into being only when the true self has been liberated. As long as you are not fully aware of your lower self, a real closeness to God is unthinkable, because it stands between you and divinity.
All the discussions, talks and sermons about God will not bring you one iota closer. Only facing that within yourself that you shy away from will do it. Therefore, faith and hope are not contradictory, nor incompatible, nor just something remotely connected with this Path of self-search. They are as integral a part, or rather as inevitable an outcome, of this work, as are love or truth.