88 QUESTION: You spoke about companionship. At times one has to be alone. How can you tell when that’s appropriate?
ANSWER: There is a simple answer to that, although it’s not always easy to know. When you investigate your emotional reactions and find that you want companionship out of fear of being alone, then the need for companionship springs, at least partly, from a poor motive.
If you want to be alone out of fear of involvement because you have a strong tendency to withdraw, then your desire to be alone springs, again at least in part, from a poor motive. In other words, either tendency can be healthy as well as unhealthy. An integrated human being needs both companionship and solitude, and both for constructive reasons rather than to avoid something you fear. The right answer can come only from rigorous self-examination.
More and more, you will see that truth cannot be stated as a rigid law. It always depends on how you feel and what the underlying motives are.
106 QUESTION: What about a relationship that changes? Also, what about seeking variety and flow? Is it a manifestation of healthy relating if a relationship changes and if a person wishes many relationships?
ANSWER: This is again one of those questions that cannot be answered with a Yes or No. Both a changing relationship and the desire for variety may indicate healthy or unhealthy motives. Often it is a combination of both, though one side may be predominant. One must beware of oversimplification.
The fact that a relationship changes for the worse does not necessarily indicate relapse or stagnation. It may be a necessary, temporary reaction to an unhealthy submissiveness, to the craving for affection, or to any other one-sided neurotic bondage. Before a healthy relationship can come into being between two people who have been tied together by a variety of mutual distortions, such a temporary outer or inner storm may fulfill the same balancing function that an electric storm or earthquake fulfills in nature.
Whether or not a relationship can become predominantly free and healthy depends on both parties involved. By the same token, a smooth outer relationship, apparently devoid of friction, is not necessarily an indication of its health and meaningfulness. Close examination of the ties and their significance is the only answer. One can never generalize.
If two people grow together in any kind of relationship – be it partnership, love, friendship, whatever – they have to go through various phases. If they muster sufficient insight about themselves and not only about the other, such relationship will become more securely rooted and ever more fruitful.
As far as seeking variety is concerned, that too depends on the real motivation. If variety is sought hastily, compulsively, due predominantly to reasons of fear, greed and grasping; due to being unable to genuinely relate to any one person, and therefore supplementing this lack with a lot of superficial ties; if others are constantly sought as a safeguard against not being dependent on and deserted by those few with whom a deeper relationship exists, then, needless to say, it indicates unhealthy trends.
But if variety is sought because of the richness of different human beings and of one’s relationship to them in a free spirit, and not in order to use one relationship against the other, then it is healthy. Often, both motivations exist. But even in the former case, there may be a temporary necessity because of a reaction to previous withdrawal, and as such, the seeking of variety may be a step toward health. A negative manifestation is often an indication that a positive transitory phase is occurring.
QUESTION: How does that tie in with a person manipulating his reactions to other people?
ANSWER: Actually, this question is already answered. Manipulation happens out of defensiveness and pseudo-needs. The one that is manipulated, whether or not he or she is aware of it, will either react by giving in due to fears, needs and dependency, and lose integrity, or will rebel. Then it will be out of wanting affection without being a slave.
Yet the person does not yet know that there is no need to rebel if one can relinquish. If a person is free enough not to need another so desperately, as if it were a matter of life and death, he or she would not need to resent the condition which the other’s domination unconsciously imposes. They will let go and quietly preserve their integrity.
Only when both are fighting as to who is the stronger one – and this fight usually happens in a hidden way – does their relationship fluctuate between domination, rebellion, submission, appeasement and resentments. Both want something from each other that neither is willing to give. Both claims are distorted and unrealistic. Thus a battle evolves that overshadows the potential for a real relationship which is always free.
QUESTION: Between two human beings who want to relate, but both, for various reasons, manipulate, or one manipulates, where does the element of real love come in? Does this not dissolve or alleviate the manipulation?
ANSWER: To the degree a person feels the need for manipulation – which is an unconscious protective measure – to that degree real love cannot exist. These two elements are mutually exclusive. The pseudo-need for manipulation, if you examine it, stems from egocentric fear and an over-cautiousness about letting go to feeling and to being. Therefore manipulation prohibits love, even though some measure of real love may also exist, but is hindered by the aspect in question.
If real love is greater than the distortion, it will not dissolve the distortion, but the weight of love will be greater, and thus the relationship will be less problematic. Dissolution of problematic areas can only happen through understanding. Then love can blossom. But where darkness and confusion exist, and the partners do not face reality, love cannot come into being. The fact that you do love does not simply dissolve all the negative currents and distortions, conflicts and fears, unconscious defensive measures and manipulations. It is not as easy as all that.
Your ability to relate is actually simple to measure: your outer life furnishes you with many clues if you but understand them. To the degree that a relationship has problems, unconscious distortions exist in both parties. One alternately blames the other, or assumes self-blame. It takes time and understanding, as well as some experience on this Path, to recognize that one wrong does not eliminate another; that all involved are responsible for all the problems of a relationship. Such insight always has a very liberating effect, simply because it is the truth. This truth will free you of guilt and of the necessity to accuse, to blame, and to judge.
QUESTION: Isn’t it sometimes much easier to relate to somebody one is not too close to? One is less critical.
ANSWER: Why, of course. This is just the proof that it is not a real relationship, but a superficial one. A real relationship means involvement. That does not merely mean looking at the negative aspects and currents. Involvement means the staking of one’s whole being. A relationship of deep involvement is bound to suffer friction because there are so many unrecognized and unresolved problem areas within both parties. That is why each friction can become such a stepping stone if it is approached with a constructive attitude. Now, with all that, I do not mean that you should have only such deep relationships. This would be impossible and unrealistic. But there must be quite a few, all different, if you are to feel that your life is dynamic and fruitful.
To be more specific, I may add that unconscious expectations, claims and demands cause havoc in relationships. This is not because all expectations are necessarily wrong, but because they smolder underground and cause a mutual strain, as they clash with the demands of the other person. Apart from the fact that some demands are really unjustified and unreasonable, and they can only be recognized as such if they come to your surface awareness, even justified expectations will cause problems for you because of your unawareness of them.
QUESTION: In the same connection, when a person thinks that he relates instantaneously to other people, is that not a projection of a kind of black magic, due to the childish belief in one’s omnipotence?
ANSWER: Yes, of course. The child who wants to be infallible exists in every human being. It may often be true that a person has an intuitive understanding of others. The danger then is that he or she develops a tendency to believe to be always right. It takes quite a bit of growth, maturity and wisdom to realize that one may be right sometimes, but certainly not always. Once this is recognized and one’s own limitations are accepted, it is no longer a crushing shame to be wrong.
Growth, in this respect, often proceeds in stages. At first, people may be so completely unsure of themselves that they may not put any value on themselves and their perceptions. They may be feeling so inferior that they do not trust their intuition at all – or even their reason. They may always believe that only others are right, whether or not this is true, whether or not they are aware of this hidden conviction against which they may erroneously battle with an over-assertiveness – which, of course, is the worst way to remedy the situation, because no ill can disappear before its existence is acknowledged.
Then such people would go through a certain process of growing and experience that their perceptions are often valid. This is a great relief and joy. Self-confidence begins to blossom. But this is only a tiny step on the ladder, and they are not yet quite sure of the reality of this phenomenon. Since they are so unsure, they are frightened to find out that they have only imagined it all, and so they guard against the dreaded disappointment by summoning their inherently childish claim for omnipotence as a counter-measure.
If they remain at that stage, without recognizing this factor, they will never completely grow out of their inferiority feelings. But by recognizing this, they will learn that they are not without worth or value just because they are not always right. They will no longer fear being wrong, and will therefore enter into a more realistic relationship with themselves.
All growing and learning is determined by curves and cycles. If the cycle is stopped, growth is stopped, and the person eventually reverts to the old state where he or she had begun to take the first tentative steps. When the temporary improvement is not followed through, the person is blinded by some actual success, but is not yet secure enough not to fear that the experience may turn out to have been an illusion. Therefore nothing is really resolved yet.
The immature psyche always fluctuates between underestimation and overestimation. Neither is in reality. Only by continuing on this curve can one attain true perspective, and then self-assurance will be gained in a genuine way.
If the frequent wrong conclusion, “If I admit I am not always right, then I fall back into my inferior state,” is recognized, then all is well, and the fear of being wrong will vanish. You will realize that the more you can allow for not having to be right, the more your intuition will grow; the validity of your judgement will increase – but by no means will it always be accurate. Of crucial importance at this stage of the curve is the awareness of the fear of being wrong, due to the unfounded danger that the growth experienced was illusory.
QA165 QUESTION: A point of crisis has arisen in my relationship, and I’m not sure whether it stems from an ego problem of mine or is due to the situation within the relationship. There is nothing that either my partner or I wants more than the realization of oneself in the newer sense of the word.
ANSWER: What I can see here is the following: in your attempt to find the answer and to get together, you are on the outer level that is away from where the problem really lies.
The problem lies in both of you, of course. The difficulty is because these two problems – in you and in the partner – cause a negative interaction, which you do not understand on the conscious level. You try to deal with it on the conscious level as it manifests consciously. Therefore, it becomes more and more painful, because you cannot find resolution on that level.
My suggestion is that you, first of all, open yourself up and really say you want to go into the depths of seeing the problem in yourself, each of you. What is the real problem in yourself? If you cannot solve it alone, seek help.
This may very well be not just a problem that is existent in this relationship but that is a permanent problem in you as well as in your partner, and that would always come up and therefore needs resolution in your own development.
QA254 QUESTION: I have not been able to form a relationship with a man. I realize how negative my intentionality toward men is. I believe he is the cause of my unfulfillment, and not my own rigid image about men and relationships. I have worked a lot on all of this. I know about my early childhood trauma with my father and my re-creation of my longing, frustration, cutting off of feelings, provocation, vengefulness and the vicious cycle that ensues. I know all the right concepts, yet I am unable to stop the cycle. I deeply pray for further guidance in the understanding of myself and for help to dissolve this harmful image.
ANSWER: It is necessary that you connect with that part in you which demands that the man changes your image by proving to you how lovable you are. Until such time, your intent is to hold out. At the same time, it is necessary for you to be more keenly motivated to take responsibility for the change in your outlook. For that you need to experience your longing for love; you need to experience the unfulfillment without mutuality.
When you no longer push this longing away and cover it up with substitutes, you will truly want to see the man as an incomplete human being, just as you are an incomplete human being. You need to know that incomplete human beings, men and women, deserve love just as much as fully purified ones. Their God nature is always operative, their painful, noble struggle deserves love and respect. And this includes you. You must not rely on others – the man – to give you your value and lovability. You must do this yourself. When you do, you will also be able to love a man.
QA255 QUESTION: I would like to ask your help with three problems I have in my life. I feel that these problems have a common origin, but I seem to be unable to make headway through them. The first concerns my relationship. For years I have gone through a cycle which always brings me to the point of rejecting my relationship, of being convinced it is wrong for me, of feeling that I have never had the kind of feelings I have wanted in it. This time around, I also have felt that on some level I really don’t understand what a relationship is at all. I reject intimacy and feelings and needs on some level. Each time I come out on the other end of the tunnel, so to speak, I look back on the episode as crazy. Yet, though I have learned something each time, I still go through it, each time seemingly as blind as the past, convinced that I can never realize my true feelings.
The second question deals with my relationship with Christ. Though I used to feel connected to the personality of Jesus Christ before I was on the Path, and am still connected to the concept of the Christ consciousness, I find I am unable to visualize Jesus as a personal friend, a spiritual adviser who can guide me. This is a painful and lonely feeling.
The last problem deals with my relationship with the Pathwork. I have made a third-stage commitment with what I believe are true feelings. Yet I am in touch with a part of me that seems to never have been touched by my desire to become spiritually aware. I feel this part of me is always there and is the truest part of me. Somehow I can’t seem to give enough energy and credence to the positive part of me. I forget it exists very easily. These cycles are especially painful for me, because I find I am unable to differentiate between my higher self, my lower self, and my mask when I am in this state. I feel I have to move out of this level and make a change in my life. Can you help me to see my way more clearly?
ANSWER: As to your relationship with women, the problem here is that, in addition to the real needs you have as a man, there still exist infantile needs that can never be gratified. On that level, you give the woman a power that makes you afraid of her and her own infantile demands, which then become like a whip or a prison from which you must escape.
Real feelings, intimacy and immediacy cannot be developed to the degree these mutual infantile needs exist and are not being recognized. Only when you can pinpoint them very clearly and know their unreality, can you go into the apparent abyss of giving them up and enduring the seeming loneliness of selfhood.
Only then can you be acutely aware when similarly childish needs are being extended toward you, and only then can you pronounce them, question them, challenge them, and finally refute them. Because then the woman will not be a power any longer; you will not fear her, because you can live without her. And I do not mean this in a defiant way, which you have no difficulty doing.
In that way, you sacrifice fulfillment and emotional abundance out of spite and fear. I mean it in a real way in which you can let go, if necessary, in order to later build something more real and fulfilling. You can endure frustration, not rebel against it. You can face your feelings of worthlessness so as to realize your actual value. This is the difference.
If you fear women, it is because she is supposed to guarantee that you never be frustrated, that you never feel lonely, that you never deal with your feelings of inadequacy. When this is supposed to be her function, you must then also trigger this off in her, when you are supposed to fulfill a similar function for her. Since this is impossible, you are afraid and you withdraw your feelings.
Now, as to Jesus Christ, this separation is a temporary one. You will recapture your personal contact and feeling, only with a much stronger sense of reality and maturity than before. Development always proceeds in the spiral movement, so that one appears, at times, to go back, while one really lifts out previously dormant material that needs to see the light of day.
So you must, at times, meet the sense of separation in you – the doubts and fears – before the part in you that is already imbued with truth can gradually soak up and transform this negative, raw aspect. Always realize that these are phases and not permanent states, as long as your will remains poised in the direction of commitment to growth, to change, to the will of God, to movement – rather than stagnation.
This applies, of course, equally to what you describe is your relationship to the Pathwork. The Pathwork itself must lift your doubts, your lack of faith, your protective, defensive cynicism out of obscurity. If you are temporarily confused about what is your truth and what is your real truth, so be it.
Allow also for temporary confusion. Out of it, order will arise. And never forget that it takes the greatest courage, strength and commitment to deal with these parts of yourself that you are so despairing about. So have faith in yourself, even if at times all faith seems to go from you. Just allow for these periods as temporary manifestations.
QA255 QUESTION: I have been involved now for three years with a man I love very much. As you know, the feelings I experienced at the beginning of our relationship were the most powerful ones I have ever experienced in my life. They opened me up to experience myself as a woman, desirable and caring towards the man. I care so much about this man, about his soul and his development. I see his longing to experience life in a deeper way. I see his defenses, his negativities. I accept him without judgement. I also see many neurotic and distorted aspects of myself in this relationship.
Recently, the relationship has become more intense, and he has become more open to the concepts of the Pathwork. He is reading lectures and trying to work with them. Yet he fears it and backs away. As we get closer, he is getting more scared and wanting to back off. I also go up and down. At times I feel my will pushing its way toward resolution and other times I back off, wanting to get out of it. I am aware of a deep fear in me of relationship and a place where I don’t want any.
I believe I am at the point where I truly want to know the truth of this relationship. Is it to be? Does it have a chance? I want to know the truth from my heart, not from my will. I want to surrender to God’s will. Can you help us at this time?
ANSWER: Of course this relationship has a chance. It entirely depends on both of you, if you both want to continue a commitment; if you want to face and explore the fears of commitment and mutuality, and then transmute these fears into vital creative energy to live your life – together and as individuals who fulfill themselves in a task for the greater good. If this choice is being made, the relationship will live and flower.
You have grown so magnificently since you started this Pathwork that you have indeed nothing to fear. If your present love should not choose to trust in life’s goodness, in his own capacities to allow God to transmute fears and negativities, so let it be. A truly fruitful relationship can only exist when both partners fully want it – when there is no anxiety, no pulling, no effort to convince.
It must come out of fullness and abundance, not out of the sense that you need to fight for it, you need to convince. Only then can peace and excitement merge. Your newly awakened capacities to love and feel is your treasure that will ensure your fulfillment in love with a mate.
You are but on the threshold of your real life – it is only beginning. All till now was preparation. Try to feel this truth and encounter what is to come in a spirit of faith, so that you can be peaceful.