79 QUESTION: Is it possible to do image-work with children?

ANSWER: Yes, it is possible, but in a very different way. With a child, so much is on the surface. The trained eye will discover where wrong concepts are in the process of forming, due to certain emotional distress. The child will then have to be guided and taught to assume the right concepts.

Such teachings will have to be conducted in a way that they affect the emotional area where problems exist or are in the process of forming. In the right way, the right teaching will be given in the right moment, so that it will be directed to the subconscious. Broadly speaking, this would be the way. The approach is different even for a young adult and for one who is more advanced in years.

87 QUESTION: Will you enlighten us on the relationships among the main image, the idealized self-image and the God-image, particularly in regard to prayer? How does this conglomerate interfere with our ability to pray?

ANSWER: This is a very good question. Any conflict, distortion or illusion interferes with creative processes, the search for truth, or any constructive endeavor, such as prayer. Regardless of how much real talent, healthy desire, or serious striving you show, the severity of your conflicts proportionately influences your activities, thoughts, feelings and motives. This may occur through the subtle coloring of self-deception, or it may be crass enough to make prayer or any other constructive activity impossible.

The God-image [Lecture #52 The God Image] is not an actual concept of God, common to all human beings. The God-image may be life, the rules of life, or it may be authority, in the sense of a must.

The main problem in life, resulting in the main image, is always the feeling of helplessness in the face of a difficulty that the child finds impossible to cope with unless special defenses are established. The God-image plays a major role in building these defenses, whether as a vague authority or an imaginary, severe, punishing God.

The decrees of this powerful authority make safety and happiness impossible, cause frustration and unhappiness. Here you are, the helpless, unloved child – whether you actually were unloved, or felt unloved makes no difference – feeling lonely, misunderstood, not accepted for your own sake, insecure, frightened. Only by adhering to certain rules do you have a chance to feel safe and gain a minimal amount of pleasure.

Alternatively, if this is your main image, you may believe that you can find the safety and pleasure you need for survival only by breaking the rules, exercising power, and becoming the dictator in your environment. In either case, the God-image is the first obstacle and, according to character, personality and environment, you either comply with it or try to become it. Neither alternative works.

Broadly speaking, either one of these attitudes to the God-image determines the type of idealized self-image that you establish; this attitude represents your pseudosolution. Your pseudosolution, in turn, represents the predominant attribute of your idealized self-image.

The establishment of the idealized self-image [Lecture #83 The Idealized Self-Image] has a further purpose in connection with the God-image. To obey the hated rules against one’s will would be very humiliating. Therefore the psyche pretends to accept these rules for the sake of perfection per se. In other words, the rigid standards and demands of the idealized self-image not only serve the purpose of coping with a hostile, dangerous world, but also cover up the helplessness of having to adopt rules one inwardly rebels against.

This holds true even if the idealized self-image is predominantly rebellious and antisocial, because the rebelling minority also represents rules, but of a different order. The rule then may be ruthlessness, dominion over others, selfishness. This then is regarded as intelligent and those not following these particular rules are viewed as stupid.

In such a case, the God-image will subtly merge with the idealized self-image. You try to identify with what you fear most. Such emotional reactions can be found constantly in your self-search. They exist with the predominantly power-driven person, as well as with the predominantly submissive type. Each does it in a different way.

In addition to the separation and loneliness that this distortion generates, there is the added yoke of feeling that you have to obey, whether you want to or not. The idealized self-image serves the additional purpose of easing the brunt of this yoke.

So you see how the basic helplessness links the God-image and the idealized self-image, creating the fundamental problem with its pseudosolutions. The pseudosolutions are adopted in order to cope with the God-image, and that in turn creates the idealized self-image.

QA169 QUESTION: I have a couple of inner misconceptions dead to rights now. I see exactly what they’re doing to me and I feel a lot better about myself. One is the tyranny of the idealized self-image, which is an unbelievable burden. The second is the image that all people are my enemies. This is unbelievably strong in me. My fantasy is that I’m in a room surrounded by people with knives, and I’m in the middle defending against all these people. I think it’s my basic image about all people in general, and I’m always defending against it. But I’m coming out of it now. The clamp is dismantling. Also, one more thing. The tension is so strong in me about this that I feel, in a way, I’m on the verge of physical collapse. I know better, but it’s close, it’s close, because there’s a lot of emotion. Can you comment on these misconceptions?

ANSWER: Now, in the first place, I will answer the last thing first about the physical collapse you mentioned. You’re quite right. You will not collapse, especially when you are very determined about it, and when you make up your mind that you do not wish to collapse.

You will not because one does not collapse when one does not wish to. It is truly so. If you assert this determination – not in a tight anxious way of superimposing emotions over contradictory emotions that say, “Yes, I want to collapse, because that is the only way out of my dilemma,” but rather see such destructive emotions and say, “No, I will not do it. That is not my way, and that is not the way I choose.”

That way you will guarantee that you will not do that. In conjunction with that, you will do more and more to be kind to your body in every possible way, without indulging it either, because kindness is never indulgence.

You see, for example, the difference. A self-indulgent person is never kind to himself, because such self-indulgence may be very harmful. It often is the line of least resistance – and true kindness is never indulgent. That is also, incidentally, a law of love that is so often misconceived. The child – and I interject this here, and it is relevant to all questions that may be asked at any level – confuses love with indulgence. When indulgence is not forthcoming, it feels unloved.

Often the parent is, indeed, incapable of true love, for he’s only an erring human being. But often his love is also expressed in a firmness for the protection of the child, which may interfere with the wishes and desires of the child who wants indulgence, and confuses this with love.

This is very important that you treat yourself in the same way. If you truly love yourself, you will never be self-indulgent. It is only the person who does not love himself who is self-indulgent as a substitute. If you learn to love yourself, you will automatically change these concepts also.

Now I will tackle the answer from another side. Let us begin with a concept of enemies – the misconception you have about that. This misconception stems from a very general, universal, and very subtle concept of measuring or valuing the self in terms of others – of comparing oneself with others.

This is the way humanity at large gauges itself. “How much am I worth? How valuable a person am I? This one is stronger than I am, so therefore I am weak. This one is more intelligent than I am, therefore I am stupid. This one is more stupid than I, therefore I am brilliant.” And so on and so forth.

Now, this whole system of evaluation of self is a tremendous distortion that brings in its wake very serious ramifications that go further and further, much more than meets the eye. The whole need to create an idealized self-image stems from this. The whole system of competitiveness stems from this – on all levels again: politically, economically, personally, interpersonally and subtly, emotionally.

Everything is distorted. If you feel you’re suffering very much from that misconception, somehow without ever having put it into such concise terms to yourself, in yourself you have experienced yourself always being measured by others in terms of “how do you measure up to them?”

Of course, this has a devastating effect. This is why they all become your enemies in your mind.

You see, what happens in your case is this. If your only value can be found in triumphing over others – in being better than others – your need to surpass them must be enormous. If you feel you are better than them and this is what you strive for – and you must feel that in order not to be squashed by them and feel worthless – you automatically become their enemy.

You deprive them of their worth. You make them worthless, as it were, by saying, “I am good and you are bad. I am strong and you are weak. I am better than you; therefore, you must be down there. And in order not to be worthless myself, you must become worthless.”

Therefore, in this value system which you have suffered from, you must become their enemy. You must constantly be on guard that the precarious perch you are on is not taken away from you by someone else who comes along and says, “No, I want to be up there.”

And, of course, you must not forget that you are not the only one who suffers from such conceptions. On the unconscious level, people constantly are engaged in such warfare. How do you think actual material war comes about? How is it possible? Only because the inner warfare exists first, for the inner reality is first. The outer is only a consequence.

Outer warfare can never be eliminated through outer measures. It can only be eliminated when people cease to be at war on the unconscious level with one another. And that, in turn, can only cease when they institute a completely new system of self-evaluation.

For truly it is impossible to evaluate yourself by comparing yourself with others – ever. It is meaningless. It is completely false. The only way you can measure yourself is “are you already your real potential? To what extent are you your real potential? To what extent and in what areas are you separated from your real self, and are therefore not using your real potential?”

That is the only true value system that can never create trouble, that can never put you at war with yourself and others, that can never rob you of peace, that can never produce anxiety, and that is absolutely reliable and meaningful, because it is a truthful evaluation.

By the evaluation of comparing yourself with others, you constantly run after something that is nonexistent. It is illusion per se. What happens with you then is you’re not only at war with others; you’re not only constantly whipping yourself into producing an impossible idealized self-image; you’re not only going against others and become their enemy and therefore make them your enemy – that is all true, as far as it goes.

But it is not even that that is the real damage of it. The real damage, the devastating damage that causes the vicious circle one is then involved in, is the fact that by this measuring and the pursuit of this idealized self-image, you neglect the power that is in you – and that is primarily your feelings: your capacity to love, your capacity to trust reasonably so – not in illusion, not blindly, but seeingly, because you are capable of accepting even an imperfect reality.

This is the only way reasonable trust can exist – not the kind of trust that must have perfection and therefore closes one’s eyes, and therefore builds up an illusory picture, which is then bound to crumble and then destroy the capacity to trust in the first place.

I mean real trust that can take things as they are. “Yes, this is not perfect.” No love is perfect because no human being is perfect. Demanding perfect love is asking for disappointment, and therefore pulling back and closing your own love capacity.

So, by having these demands, by having these false measurements, you completely negate your love capacity and your capacity to be in truth with the world, and accept reality as it is and therefore love.

And if you cannot love, you must live in fear – and fear destroys love more. Therefore, if a person lives without love, not only can he not obtain love with his own love capacity – and therefore deprives and shortchange himself – but he also becomes weak, frightened, and truly inadequate. So then this inadequacy, blindly felt and not fully understood, leads to the even greater urge to supplement this inadequacy with real inadequacy, with false ideas of adequacies. “I must be the strongest in the land.” Now, here is the crux of the matter.

QUESTION: Yeah, I feel that that’s where I’m at, because there really isn’t any room for love in my system. There’s a complete mischanneling of the energies of hostility, hate, fear.

ANSWER: Exactly. And that is the nucleus here. You cannot love if you measure yourself with others, because if you measure yourself with others, you must be in fear and in hate, inevitably so. If you begin to measure yourself with yourself, and even with your own opinion – your own real opinion – if you pretend here in a subtle way “what do you think about it?” this is much more important than what others think, even if they buy the pretense.

But your opinion counts so much, much more than you give value to it. You see, you devaluate yourself – and again this is universal for everyone – you devaluate yourselves by saying, “My opinion does not count. I may think I’m a liar. I pretend in a subtle way here and a less subtle way there, because it’s more important what other people think of me.”

With that you make yourself less worthwhile in your own processes. But if you say, “it is important what I think of myself,” you give yourself automatically a value that you deserve, for truly your opinion about yourself is more important than anyone else’s, and you cannot deceive yourself even if you happen not to know it consciously.

The effects of your unconscious lack of self-esteem, for all the manipulations and deceptions and cheating one does – and this is universal for everyone – is much, much, much worse than anyone else’s opinion, good or bad. Do you understand?

QUESTION: I understand. I’m just thinking that in order to be more in touch with my own feelings about myself and my love feelings, I’m just going to have to move and take risks. That’s how I see it. That’s what’s coming in.

ANSWER: Yes. True. And more and more you will find out that these are really no risks. It is the safest thing in the world to you allow yourself to risk having good feelings for people, even if you think they’re your enemy.

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