Defense Mechanism

QA157 QUESTION: I’m feeling extremely hostile toward everyone tonight. Today, in the city, I noticed all around me a tremendous amount of violence in the atmosphere. The horns were blowing almost continually. I noticed people screaming at each other and also perhaps even screaming at me or glaring at me or yelling at me. This seemed very real to me. I’d like to understand more about this. I’d also like to understand my relationship towards males in general.

ANSWER: Now, the answer to your first question is this: all this violence and hostility you seem to notice more than at other times is an expression of your own deep-rooted hostility we have discussed in the past, and which is now coming up stronger just because you stand on the verge of recognizing the fallacy of its defensive nature.

This hostility for you is a defense. But perhaps you do not know this sufficiently as yet. It is not only a defense against the world – against danger coming from outside – it is even more a defense against your own pain, against the puzzlement of what the child you once were could not properly interpret, could not assimilate in any other way than that the happenings that pained you were acts deliberately directed against you.

This belief caused you pain. In order not to feel the pain and the bitterness, you made yourself hostile. Now, the recent work on your own path has brought tremendous growth – tremendous insight, recognition and change. But this change is, of course, not yet completed.

By completed I mean you have not yet given up this destructive defense mechanism. You are on the verge of doing so. But the struggle in you is, of course, a tremendous one. It is as if part of your being begins to realize the destructiveness and the futility of maintaining this destructive way of living and of meeting life.

Part of your ego begins to understand it. To the extent your ego understands this, it makes room for a deeper understanding coming from the depths of your real self, that wants to convey to you also the feeling of this understanding. If you would allow this feeling to penetrate you and to express in your being, the anxiety would immediately go away.

But you do not yet quite allow this to happen. Therefore you struggle to hold on to this hostile defense mechanism in which violence and toughness and setting yourself against the world seems the answer to your dilemma.

Just because this struggle is so great and because you hold on while every other part in you wants to give this up, all this is projected, as it were, like a mirror that reflects something on the outside of what is really going on inside of you. It seems as though everything you experience within yourself, you experience outside of yourself. This holds true for the negative, just in exactly the same way that it holds true for the positive.

Anyone experiencing self-realization will immediately feel the world around him in a very different way. You will see it in a different way; you will hear it in a different way; you will sense it in a different way. As I said many times before, it will even taste differently. The scent and the flavor are all different.

It is exactly the same on the negative scale. The harshness, the crudeness, the glare of something ugly is shrieking to you, all around you. It is nothing but a reflex of that defense that you have adopted and that you, your whole personality, is ready to shed. When that struggle will be won, you will see the world differently.

Where actual hostility exists, you will not see something else instead, because being in one’s real self does not mean illusion. But the hostility will cease to be frightening. It will cease to threaten you or to intimidate you, nor will it have the power to make life appear ugly. You will see it for exactly what it really is – namely a temporary disorder, a temporary error and distortion. Therefore it will have no power over you.

So it is up to you, my friend, when you want this struggle to cease. The better you understand what I said here, the easier it will be for you to decide with your conscious will forces and ego forces which way the struggle should go – and to make room for the deeper powers within you to help you settle the fight

Because without these powers, you cannot do anything alone. You can and must make a commitment and decision with your conscious mind. But the execution rests with the creative powers and the vital forces within yourself. If you elicit them, things will begin to be different. Do you understand that thus far? {Yes, I think so}

Now, as to the second part of your question – your fear of men – I would like to say this. We have so far discussed your relationship to women as a result of your automatic reflexes, your attitudes, and your conditioning in relationship to your mother and therefore to all women.

Therefore, we have to bring back the relationship to men to your father. The fear and hostility you have of men is, of course, originally to be found in your attitude to your father. Since when you were a child, your father was not only threatening in the power he held over you, but also threatening because you could not hope to emulate him.

It seemed hopeless for you to ever be adequate to his strength. Now, an additional complication sets in. You not only have negative feelings – many of which are not conscious – but you also have positive feelings there that you are equally frightened of.

You hope for love from him, as the child hoped that; you hope for warmth and acceptance from him; you hoped for protection from him – none of which you received in a measure that satisfied you or that fulfilled you. Therefore, a void remains.

Therefore all the psychic forces in you are split in hate and desire, in competition and in expectation. All these feelings have to be sorted out, painstakingly. In doing so you will find relief.

There are many conflicting emotions there, some of which have gained a greater foothold over you because the sexual force has entered into them. As the sexual force has entered into the hostile feelings toward the female sex, so has the sexual force entered into the passive feelings in the expectation and hope you extend secretly to the male sex. And this is where you are caught.

Because when the sexual force enters into it, it is so much more difficult to make an emotional change. The absolute necessity is the full acceptance and awareness of these currents and countercurrents, allowing oneself to experience them within one’s consciousness, which, of course, does not ever mean acting out – I cannot stress this sufficiently.

Now, do not be frightened or threatened by these ambivalent feelings. Encounter them in as calm a spirit as you can. Soon the phantom will cease to take hold of you. Something will dissolve there, and it will become possible for you to want to let go of anger and hostility as well as the passive expectations for a salvation that is supposed to come from an all-powerful figure outside of yourself.

Once you encounter those feelings, it will not be half as difficult, as you have experienced this numerous times in the past. Therefore, you have made this remarkable progress.

QUESTION: Is there real hostility in me against my own passivity?

ANSWER: No, I did not say that. I said there is a hostility, on the one hand, and there is the passive expectation for salvation coming from a powerful figure, on the other hand. And since it does not come, since you cannot find peace and security that way, the additional hostility accrues.

Yes, in a sense, you can also say you are angry at yourself for feeling bound and paralyzed. And you must be paralyzed as long as your expectation is directed to a father figure, no matter how remote or how sublimated or how diluted this may exist in your psychic life.

QUESTION: [Another person] I have a question that seems to relates to this. A situation occurred recently that I think was very characteristic of some of my problems. I was at a concert, and I like to be absorbed in the music, be in the present and enjoying it. But at one point, I started to look around the audience. At the very other end of the concert hall, I saw somebody sitting. It was remote, so that I couldn’t really make his face out. He was wearing glasses, an indistinct kind of figure, but yet I felt I had to look at him – in a way, challenge him to meet my gaze and to look away from me. I felt a great anxiety about that. I was under this compulsion. And this completely took my mind off the music. I ceased to be in the present, and in a way I think that’s typical of my life in many ways. But I’d like your interpretation of this particular situation.

ANSWER: Yes. You are right that this is very much related to the question that was just asked. And you’ve probably sensed that the distraction from the man far away symbolizes your father. The enjoyment is tied with a father who did not seem to give you permission to enjoy yourself – neither father, in a different way, nor mother.

When you were about to let go and let the subliminal forces take over and give yourself, surrender yourself to them – not in a passive act, but in the vigorous, virile act of self-surrender to one’s innermost forces, which is not at all a passive thing in the distorted way – the wrong passivity that says, “No, I must not have pleasure,” took over.

That is when the hate and the challenge with father took over. This is what took place deep inside. It’s not even correct to state it took place at this moment. It always takes place. It is the condition in which your psyche is held, still.

It is only because of your Pathwork and your increasing insights that you become aware. You become aware of these conditions as though they were passing things that happen to you at this moment, and actually they are just coming to the fore. You just pay attention to what always goes on.

You have to challenge, you have to be in rebellion toward the superior forces of your parents, because they seem to prohibit your pleasure. But it is only as long as you cede them the power by making demands on them, by refusing your self-responsibility, that they are invested with this power.

The moment you let go of demanding of them, of making them responsible for what you lack or what you miss, you will realize your own power all around you, within you, that you have constantly at your disposal – forces of such tremendous beauty, delight and pleasure but that you do not utilize because you are stuck in a battle that you needlessly continue.

Again, of course, this does not only apply to you, as the last answer does not only apply to my friend here. But this is what goes on.

QUESTION: You said then that there is a good kind of passivity when I really want to surrender myself to pleasure, as in this case of when I try to enter into the music. And there is another kind of passivity when I’m depending on my parents and I want to be fulfilled or permitted to take pleasure by them. And when I feel this other kind of passivity, then I immediately rebel and engage in the contest or the challenge, as you call it. Is that right?

ANSWER: Yes. Right.

QUESTION: And that’s how I get away from the present?

ANSWER: Yes. Now actually I said the other type of passivity is brought about by everything but a passive attitude. It is an active surrender that is very virile, that is very vigorous, that connotes strength and autonomy and selfhood. It is an act committed out of the full desire in full independence and in the wise realization that nothing good and therefore no enjoyment can be executed with the ego alone.

It requests the elicitation of the real self that it begins to vibrate in you, to pulsate in you, to fill you. To surrender to these forces becomes in a way a healthy passivity, but only after the healthy activity is gone through in the activity of knowing that the little self cannot accomplish anything – not even joy of music, not even that.

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