Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 2
March 25, 1957
DECISIONS AND TESTS
Greetings in the name of God. I bring you God's blessings.
My dear friends, God's love penetrates the entire creation. It is a living force, a beam that meets itself in an eternal round, as everything spiritual must move in circular completeness. All creatures are in search of this powerful beam of love, whether consciously or unconsciously. The longing to feel this love drives, pulls, spurs humans and spirits. They will have an understanding of the yearning according to their state of development, will draw conclusions, and follow through with their will and their thoughts. Or they will not interpret these feelings correctly and will allow this driving force to act through them and even lead them into mistakes. Not realizing the real nature of the feelings and the search, the person will look for false goals and false fulfillment. However, those who reach the stage of development where they already understand what these hitherto inexplicable feelings of longing really are have taken a great step. They will also know in what direction to go. Thus there will be fewer errors and misunderstandings about one's own soul forces, and their messages will be translated correctly.
The love for God, the longing for God, is the driving force in every human being. Even those who have not yet found God, or who believe that they do not believe in God, harbor these strong currents in their soul. Those who experience a complete turnabout in their spiritual development and recognize God in consciousness enter into a new life. This can happen within one and the same incarnation. Whoever steps through this door will already live in a much lighter world, yet there are many more gates to pass through.
Most people find life on this earth incomprehensible. They cannot recognize its meaning and purpose because they see only through their physical eyes. The contact with their spiritual eyes has not yet been established. Therefore everything seems meaningless -- their sorrows, their trials, their loneliness. But when you understand that this life is one of many learning periods, one link in a long chain, you will at first sense and later comprehend more and more fully the connections. Then your goal will no longer be immediate happiness through the fulfillment of every single wish in this existence. You will instead direct your vision toward the whole. Thus you can bear the deprivations of this life. And thus you can pass the tests and fulfill the conditions necessary to enter a higher state of existence, a permanent happiness that cannot be taken away by any outside force.
Now I would like to talk about the group of people who have passed through the first gates, who have already recognized these fundamental truths. Such people often do not progress as well as they could. After all, how fast each individual will proceed is up to his or her free will. One person may just drift along and have to reincarnate many, many times to overcome or fulfill one thing, experiencing it again and again. Others, who have recognized these basic truths, will act differently and direct their aim toward spiritual progress -- which does not mean withdrawing from earthly problems. On the contrary: for earthly and spiritual problems are very closely connected. An earthly problem is actually the expression of a specific spiritual problem. The difference is only in how the solution of a problem is sought, from what vantage point. Only if you solve the problem on the spiritual level can you find its true earthly solution.
We often see that people know this or that, but they still do not perceive the connecting links within themselves. They still look for God and for knowledge somewhere outside of themselves, for instance through increasing their outer knowledge -- which in itself is good, but not enough. There must be a continuous balancing. The acquired knowledge must always be applied on a personal level, digested and evaluated within, so that harmony is established. To achieve true progress, you have to grow from both sides. New outer knowledge has to be acquired when the old has been integrated and assimilated within. Knowledge must never remain theoretical. It must be put into practice and take root in your personal life. Thus every person needs to widen his or her knowledge of the true nature of creation and of the spiritual laws. But the outer knowing is only one part, which must not be taken as the whole. Without the other part, the inner assimilation, there can be no harmony in your progress, no real fulfillment, and thus actually no progress.
You have to get acquainted with yourself, attend to yourself, examine yourself, and acquire the discipline to overcome the resistance which is so difficult at the beginning. You have to observe all your notions about yourself which flatter you and with which it is so easy to deceive yourself. Then you have to cast them off or revise them. This work is something special, something different for each one of you, yet most of it is similar, or can even be the same. When we talk about the spiritual progress of the human being we mean something very individual for each one of you. And you, my dear ones, should search yourselves and ask: "What hidden part of me still does not react according to the sole reality, the spiritual laws, even if only on a subtle, inner level? Where do I lack clarity about certain things in myself?"
Such self-examination should go on at all times. Then you will be able to slowly eliminate that which is not yet right within you, so that you become happier. You have to be clear about what obstacles are in you, and to gain clarity you need inner search and also true inner will and effort. For if you lack happiness in any area, you can be sure that the lack is directly connected with a specific inner block. Were your wishes simply granted without your first eliminating the inner obstacles, that could never make you really happy. You could not build lasting happiness; it would have to dissolve. Only when you have established inner harmony, a relationship to God in which His laws are accomplished within you, is your soul mature enough to encompass happiness.
People often wonder about communication with God's world. "Yes," they say, "I can quite believe that such communication is possible, but what can it mean to me? What do I need it for?" My answer is that such communication can give you one of the parts necessary for your further development, namely intake from the outside. Furthermore, it gives hints, help, and direction for searching, discovering, and applying the outer knowledge to the inner problems, which is the second necessary part of development. For this, you need constant encouragement, strength, and blessing, apart from very specific, concrete help. Yet even that can be given through spirit communication. There have always been some exceptional, wise humans to whom others could be guided. In these cases too, just as with a medium, God's world is directly active. The particular person is then an instrument of God's world. In one case the influence is through inspiration, in the other it operates directly. But the help from the outside, in whatever way, is an important element without which you cannot grow. You can use the knowledge thus acquired as material, as the building blocks, with which you build your life in your own way.
In my last lecture I briefly touched upon the subject of decision-making. I was asked how it is possible to always know what the right action is. It is one of the things that you have to learn, even though it appears difficult at times. Many people can make decisions on the outer level, though some cannot do even that. A great number of people cannot make the inner decisions, however. Their emotional currents and inner, emotional reactions make them completely incapable of deciding inwardly, and they do not even know it since the process is covered up. Only when they start weighing their innermost motives and emotions do they come to realize what has been going on. Then they can begin to make inner decisions. The inability to make inner decisions expresses itself not only in problems that seem to have directly to do with other people, but more so in one's inner attitudes, feelings, and reactions.
Those who will not make a decision are often the same who most sincerely strive to follow their soul's yearning. Although they truly want to do what is right and just, they shy away from doing something because it may not please God. They are afraid of doing wrong so they do not do anything. They do not understand that by not making a decision they also make a decision. The world, and what you call time, never stands still. Everything is in the stream of life, and whatever you do, including not doing anything, must have a consequence. When you shy away from making a decision, it means you have not yet found a key to your soul. You live, possibly without being aware of it, in fear. You do not take command of your ship, believing and hoping -- again unconsciously -- that God or fate will make the decision for you. Once in a while this may even happen, but, in general, God's world is not permitted to interfere, since one of the things you have to learn is to take responsibility for your decisions. You have to learn to pierce the dark cloud which obscures the truth and creates confusion. You must do so by your own effort, by your personal spiritual endeavor, by your increasing self-awareness.
Striving to overcome your resistance is the only way to sharpen your spiritual vision. Only in this way can you perceive what exists in your own soul as well as around you. You must learn to evaluate even very complicated situations, and understand what is at stake both for you and for others. You must learn to achieve the utmost for your spiritual development and purification through solving hitherto unresolved problems. You need to confront a problem instead of avoiding it like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand.
If, after taking on the problem, you come to the conclusion that you are not yet capable of making a decision because you are not yet able to perceive which direction to take, you are in a totally different state. Then you can ask God for inspiration and knowledge and thus be ready to receive it and act accordingly. The needed recognition will come to you when you have prepared yourself through your own endeavors. It is one thing to avoid a decision, cover up everything that relates to it, and turn away from the problem altogether. It is quite another to strive for truth and knowingly and willingly decide not to make a decision until, after more personal effort, you are ready to take the right course. And when the decision is truly the right one, no shadow of a doubt will be left in you. The result will be ever-increasing inner peace and harmony in your soul. Only in this way can you become the captain of your ship.
You can recognize the pure truth of a situation and know what the right action must be for you, but only if you discard all self-flattering disguises, everything that nourishes complacency and lures you toward the road of least resistance. When people live their whole lives avoiding decisions, reactions and chain reactions will ensue. A spiritual form is created which will make it even more difficult in their next life to disentangle the knots and learn to make decisions. Therefore you, who receive these words, should contemplate them well. Understand that avoiding decisions will cause great harm, not only in spiritual, but also in purely earthly matters. This is so even from the point of view of your selfish ego, as you will see once you go beyond your short-sightedness. You must build your own happiness by following the spiritual laws to the full. Without this decision there can be no benefit.
Now, are there any questions?
QUESTION: The souls in the lower spheres are supposed to suffer much pain. How is it then that Lucifer, who is the worst of all evil spirits, does not seem to suffer? Is this just?
ANSWER: You human beings always think that there is nothing worse than pain. Yet there is something worse, namely the stage before a soul is able to feel pain. When you feel pain, you are already a step closer to God. I should like to explain this to you, so that you can sense the magnificence of creation, and see how the dark forces must ultimately play into God's hands.
I will give you this example: Lucifer has his henchmen; in his realm too there is a hierarchy of very powerful and less powerful beings. If such a powerful henchman fails to fulfill a task that has been assigned to him -- possibly to deter a human being from following his path to God, because the human being used his free will to resist temptation -- he will lose more and more of his power, until he himself will be tortured by his fellow evil spirits. And he who finds himself in extreme pain must come closer to God, since it is then that his need for God is greatest. Thus, the "lower" he sinks in the dark spheres, the "higher" he actually rises. The farther removed he is from pain, the greater the inner disharmony; and Lucifer is in the greatest disharmony. The greater the disharmony, the more strongly the inner currents will need to harmonize. This continues until such beings reach the point where they can increase their inner harmony even without pain. Later, the overcoming of various resistances will replace the pain, until eventually not even the struggle against resistance will be necessary. All of you can get an inkling of this process when you remember how much closer to inner harmony you are when you experience clean pain than when you are not really in pain but feel upset, rebellious, and torn in many directions, possessed by very disharmonious feelings. Therefore, the more the laws of God extend their influence, the fewer henchmen will Lucifer eventually have.
QUESTION: Why is it that one feels abandoned by God, that one finds oneself without assistance from the higher spheres just when one goes through the most difficult times?
ANSWER: This is often so. When you are tested, at first you learn how to attain your goal with the help of spiritual protection. Then this protective influence will step somewhat aside and you are left to yourself, at an equal distance, so to speak, from the divine and the dark forces. You have to stand your ground alone, and act right out of your own will. And then, when you have withstood the test, the dark forces will be periodically allowed to get quite close to you -- though divine love is always close by, watching that everything goes well -- so that you can stand your ground even better. Only then are you strong enough so that God can fully count on you; only then can you be sure that you have attained mastery over your lower self, over your weaknesses that needed exactly this kind of testing. This is the process. Then, in the so-called favorable periods, you gather new strength for the next period of testing, and can enjoy the fruits of what you have already achieved.
It is up to every human being to avail themselves of the weapons of spiritual law and fight with them. No evil spirit, be it the most powerful, can do anything to you unless you allow it. The moment you fight your lower self, you protect yourself completely. This is what you must do: fight the battle! This is not too much to ask of you. The times when human beings feel alone come only when they are ready to use their will to stand up for themselves without help. Your inner will is always a most important factor, but never will more be expected of you than you are able to accomplish.
QUESTION: But there are many people who suffer so much that they cannot summon up this strength. For instance, someone who has a disease of which he knows he must die. What should such a person do?
ANSWER: It is exactly then that one often experiences that one meets the tests, more so than just living an average life. Those who are marked especially heavily by destiny are often much more capable of meeting their tests by accepting them for what they are and learning from them what is necessary, and by taking up their cross willingly instead of quarreling with their destiny. I have to emphasize again and again that God never gives anyone more than they can, or could, bear and fulfill if only they are willing. You human beings are not able to judge the inner resources of others and what they do with these resources, whether they let them lie fallow or direct them into the wrong channel. Moreover, you always cling to the false belief that death and pain are the worst things that can happen to you. I refer here to physical death, which must certainly not be considered as punishment. Spiritual death is the worst, and it stands at the end of the road of least resistance.
QUESTION: What is spiritual death?
ANSWER: Spiritual death is to give yourself over to the forces of darkness, consciously or unconsciously, that is, to cut yourself off from God's world. Thus there are not only spirits who are separated from God, but also people. They will not join His ranks because they prefer to walk the road of least resistance and to give in to their weaknesses. Thus they belong to the land of the dead. This is spiritual death. But in no way is this state eternal.
Originally given in German, translated by Hedda Koehler and Judith and John Saly.
Edited by Judith and John Saly
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