78 QUESTION: I am very confused about all the selves. The lower self, higher self, inner self, mask self, psyche and all. Could you straighten me out?
ANSWER: Well, my dearest friends, you see, the higher self and the inner self, are, of course, the same. If I now tend to use the latter more often than the former, I have a good reason for that. When I first discussed the higher, lower and mask selves, it was a considerable time ago [Lecture #14 The Higher Self, the Lower Self and the Mask]. It was long before we went into the depths of your being, in this phase of self-search.
Then I tried to show you a general, overall division of the human being in an abbreviated form, so to speak. But as you gain deeper insight into yourself, you begin to see that this threefold division is not always strictly separated. The borderline is a thin one. And often, one interacts with the other.
Each of these three divisions contains a number of layers. For instance, an original tendency coming from the higher self can be distorted by your inner deviations and conflicts, and therefore be abused by negative motivations. Hence, it would lead to oversimplification to stick to the terms higher self, lower self and mask self. The term inner self will now make you more aware of this innermost core of your being, without hindering you by ever so slight an implication of moral judgement.
There is also another reason why I sometimes consider it useful to change an expression or terminology. When it is too often repeated, you cease to feel the real meaning. It becomes a label and that is bad. It is always necessary to approach this work with a freshness in feeling and outlook. This may be helped along by a new term or word. It helps you to avoid stagnation in your concepts. It avoids clinging to ready-made words which have by repetition lost their inner meaning for you. That is the trouble with all truth teachings.
The lower self has, of course, nothing to do with the inner self, although it is not always on the surface. But you no longer need these terms now that you have progressed from there. And now you can also see that it is not as simple as all that.
At the time we discussed this topic, this threefold division served as a plan, an outline, so to speak. Now that you analyze and learn to understand your inner reactions and attitudes, you no longer need to think in terms of such limiting divisions. What served once as a mere sketch, is now being filled in with details. Do not forget, these lectures are something alive. They are adapted to your progress, to the need of the present in your individual work.
The psyche indicates your inner world of feeling and reacting, generally speaking.
83 QUESTION: Could you tell us what Goethe meant by saying, “Two souls dwell in my breast”?
ANSWER: It can be interpreted to mean the higher and the lower self. And it can also be interpreted to mean the duality between the idealized and the real self. The lack of peace between the higher and the lower self brings the idealized self into existence. These two dualities are interdependent. You see, the more the idealized self is put between the real self and life, the less can life grow, the more it shrinks and is prohibited from functioning.
QA171 QUESTION: The other day, in a group session, I got in contact with a lot of deep emotional feelings. I had hoped this would open me up to a large degree, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I felt very angry afterwards, especially at a certain person who I really love more than anybody else. I suspect the anger was my refusal to feel the good feelings, but I also feel it has something to do with my fear and my hatred of all men. I’m confused about the anger. I don’t know why it came, and I didn’t know what to do with it when it was there.
ANSWER: In the first place, it is most important that you are not angry and disappointed with yourself because you cannot sustain this very meaningful breakthrough you experienced completely, at that first moment after it happened. That would be quite impossible.
I venture to say that whenever this happens, it is inevitable that the ingrained, conditioned reflexes appear again for quite a while – one goes back to closing up, to being afraid, to feeling ashamed, to being angry, to feeling threatened. All this you must expect.
You must learn to look at your own unconscious antics with love and understanding and comprehension and tolerance. Then you will not make that battle unnecessarily more difficult. Expect this! Expect it! And if you expect it, you can assume the attitude, “Oh yes, here it is – of course.”
In fact, if you open up, the closing up will be even tighter – momentarily. However, what has been accomplished will come in as a tremendous help the next opening. The next opening will be a little easier and will last a little longer. The conditioned reflex to close up will be there still, but it will not be quite as severe. Little by little, very gradually, it will lessen. And eventually, it will not come anymore. This is the most important thing for you to face.
All the fears, all the irrational and unnecessary and illusory threats you have about being open, about having good feelings, about being real, about admitting your real feelings – all this will first appear shameful, and therefore you will be resentful. But as you see this and as you expect it and accept it, the effect will lessen, and you will remain open. And I say, once again, it has been an extremely meaningful step. The fact that you could not sustain the good feeling is inevitable, and must not upset you with yourself. Do you understand?
QUESTION: Yes, yes, I do.
ANSWER: I also want to add on to this. As you see the reaction of anger, try to see also why you’re angry and that you’re angry because you think you have humiliated and exposed yourself. As you see and acknowledge this, at the same time, ascertain or state or take into consideration with your more mature mind, that this is wrong.
Not only have you done no such thing, but you have never shown the genuine value and worth of your personality any more than in that moment when you were naked. Consider this possibility with your mind first, until it penetrates your whole inner being. All these masks that people assume, they are the true evil.
It is never really the negative feelings themselves, as much as the false idea that one thinks one has to mask them. For when doing that, one also masks the best of the personality. One cannot really be communicating and at one with other people with these masks, even if the masks seem quite harmless. But they are never harmless.
In fact, a benign mask is infinitely less desirable than an honest negative feeling that is admitted as such and that is acknowledged as such. It can never do the harm.
QUESTION: When someone hurts me, I feel that I have to punish the person who inflicted the pain, quite often in a very violent and destructive way – destructive to both of us. I know that I should accept the pain without reacting. But even though I know this and really believe it, I’m having a great deal of trouble doing it. I wonder if you could help me with this?
ANSWER: Yes. Again I would like to say that knowing the ideal way of reacting is very good. But to use this knowledge as a whip to drive oneself into a state one cannot yet be, creates destructiveness and creates a state of self-rejection that will truly make you act and react and feel and exude destructiveness, whether or not you act it out.
Even if you hold yourself back by all the discipline in the world, this climate of self-rejection, this climate of forcing yourself into a more ideal state than you are in creates destructiveness. Instead, I say acknowledge, “I am not yet able to react in this ideal way, as it would be very wonderful if I could react. I feel hate; I feel vindictiveness; I want to punish; I want to do this and that and that and that and the other thing to the other person.”
If you honestly admit it, verbally and perhaps also in physical motion – not attacking a person but to get this out of your system, as you know through these exercises, for example, that you are doing – and taking the responsibility for your reactions upon yourself, knowing it and nevertheless not rejecting yourself for it, not believing that you are a bad person because you do not react in a perfectly integrated and saintly way – if you do this, your feelings will never have a negative effect on anyone, including yourself.
In fact, in this way, you will truly convert those feelings into joyous, loving, generous, healthy feelings, by the very fact that you do not fight yourself any longer – that you truly accept yourself without subterfuge, without self-deception, and without forcing yourself into a mold.
QUESTION: When you say that I should express my feelings verbally, does that mean that whenever possible, I should really tell the person who did this, or that I should just admit it to myself?
ANSWER: It depends. First of all, you have to admit it to yourself. That is the basic thing. If you can concisely verbalize in your thoughts, “I feel this and this and this, and this is what I would like to do,” then you can express it in the controlled environment of your Helpers and your groups.
And then perhaps you can do this with your partner, where you’re both fortunate enough to be together in this Path, where you can understand this and accept this about each other. But I would not go around saying this to strangers who do not understand this.
QA173 QUESTION: I assume my idealized self-image has been erected in this lifetime, and it must offset a tremendous feeling of worthlessness, which would be the opposite of what it is that I’m projecting. I was trying to tie in the worthlessness with things that happened to me as a child such as the measles, spankings, beatings, and whatever.
ANSWER: The misconception here is that each time you’ve been hurt, you interpret this as meaning this is being done to you because you’re worthless, you’re valueless, you’re no good, you’re unacceptable, you’re unlovable. And that is why there is such a tremendous rebellion against every little pain. This has to be challenged.
Then, of course, a vicious circle comes into existence, because as you react in this violently angry way because of this, you become hating. And then this seems to justify the self-hate and the guilt. And this is how you are involved in the vicious circle which you can only break by realizing these are distortions; they’re false beliefs.
You are not being hurt because you are no good, nor does it even mean you are no good when you in blindness hit back in an illusion, hating. It merely means that you are distorted, that this is indeed an unwelcome trait, but underneath this hate exists a real greatness and a real capacity for love, that is waiting to unfold itself and which certainly warrants that you love yourself and not hate yourself, no matter what in your blindness you are led to do.
All of you, my friends, meditate on the idea that you are a lovable human being, no matter what the negative and destructive traits are, no matter what your weaknesses may be, and that right underneath the specific trait or weakness lies a lovable and strong quality, ready to unfold itself.
If you use this in your approach to yourself and mean it – and if you cannot mean it, bring it to your Helper, discuss it, and find out what in you keeps you from meaning it – then you will indeed transcend your present fences.
QA222 QUESTION: I have difficulties in accepting the lower self in me. Can you please help me?
ANSWER: The difficulty you have here is a twofold one. In the first place, you have an unrealistic outlook about life and about what a person should be like. There’s an unrealism in your expectation of people and yourself. In that unrealism, you do not make room for the reality of the lower self.
What you should do here is pray for a realistic vision and view of people and life on this planet and yourself – that there is no human being who does not have a lower self, and the lower self contains ugly, unattractive attitudes.
As a matter of fact, it is the task of every human being to bring this lower self into life so as to give it the opportunity of purification. It is the beauty of the higher self to have chosen such a task. If you see it in that way, you will not be so resistant to accepting this in you.
Another aspect of the difficulty is, in connection with this unrealism, there is a certain pride in you that you want to be already above certain things. There is also perhaps a desire not to have to go through the hardship of dealing with these things – a wishful thinking attitude of “I should be already above that; I should be beyond that; this should be already behind me. I do not want to really give my energies to having to deal with something I have not expected in me.”
In other words, open your mind to the unexpected, on the negative as well as on the positive side. And pray for this understanding.
239 QUESTION: I find that I am filled with distrust and suspicion and fear, and it manifests in paralyzing my creativity and ability to work and to pull things together economically in my personal life. I wonder if you could help me?
ANSWER: This first early stage on your path is the most difficult struggle. The further you go the easier it becomes. But in this first phase, you find it difficult to remove your mask self and look at your lower self without losing sight that you also have a higher self. Yet this higher self must not be confused with the mask self you have identified with for a long time.
You confuse this mask self with your higher self. To remove the mask self is complicated, for if you only focus on the lower self, you despair. At the same time, if you revert to your mask self, you are right back where you started from. Your despair is that you cannot differentiate between the mask self and the real higher self, and that you believe that if the mask self is taken from you, you are going to disintegrate into an evil person.
Now, the lower self is there; it is never beautiful; it cannot be; it is a distortion of the beauty. However, you need to pray for the courage and the strength and the faith to go through it so that you will find the real higher self, not the false version of it.
In this initial struggle, my suggestion is to make yourself available to all the help here for you; give yourself to every aspect the Pathwork offers you and you will come through. You need also the meditational practice to make full commitment to the courage and the trust to give birth to the Christ in you, as you go through your lower self and do not evade it by wishful thinking.
Your distrust is an out-picturing of your inner lack of trust that there is a real higher self in you. Your distrust is that you know deep down that your mask self is not genuine, and you project that lack of genuineness on the world outside. For it is a human being’s weakness to always believe of others what they feel about themselves. One cannot suppose that others are different. You can go over these hurdles, and if you really want to, you can make it.
239 QUESTION: I feel also that I strongly mistrust my higher self and even to ask for help from you is very difficult for me, because there is a part in me that persists in wanting to doubt and not only to mistrust but really prove the unreality of beauty. And I want very much to take the step and ask for your help.
ANSWER: Open your heart and the blessing that is here will flow into it. Speak the words, “I want to give up my negation. I want to see the truth of the God within.” Say these words. So it will be, it must be, for that is your destiny, that is your true nature. The other is but a temporary bad dream, but a dream with a deep purpose and meaning, a dream that is a task. Your earthly lives are dreams that are tasks.
QA245 QUESTION: There is much more resistance amongst us toward the more positive aspects of our Path – like meditation, visualization and contacting our higher selves, God and Christ – than there is to expressing our lower selves. I personally believe that the latter is being used by many of us as a buffer against our positive expression. I believe that we now need to give a much greater emphasis to our positive expression. Would you like to comment?
ANSWER: Some of you may already have sensed that this Path initially attracted a more intellectual type of person, but intellectual in a deeper way than is usually understood. People who are quite open to religious and spiritual truths are usually closed to a more independent way of being, to the truths of deeper psychological levels of consciousness.
Conversely, those who are more open to psychological and deep philosophical thinking, shy away from anything that reminds them of traditional religion. It is difficult to convey true spiritual verities without using some of the terminology of traditional religion. It is God’s purpose to bring together the spiritually inclined and the intellectually independent and psychologically sophisticated individuals. This combination is truly the new man that is emerging.
This is the new consciousness that is being talked about by many enlightened individuals. As the religious and spiritual type of person – in the more traditional sense – resists aspects of self-search, of psychological truths, of physical realities of man, and uses his spirituality as a means to block this unity and expansion, so does the more intellectual and independent type of human being use his intellect – and what he believes to be his autonomy – as a means to block the same unifying movement.
In your particular case, on this particular Path, once the initial resistance to truthful exposure of your lower self was overcome, you wanted to stay there as a means to resist the further movement of your development. Giving over to the great force of God, of the Christ – who is God’s emissary on the human plane – implies many imagined dangers that you must truly overcome in order to be the free person, the liberated person, the autonomous person, the fulfilled person you desperately long to be.