A Long and Growing Love Affair with the Pathwork Guide
I was introduced to the Pathwork Lectures in 2000. My first exposure was over the summer when I read Creating Union – a book of Pathwork lectures related to love between the sexes and to which I excitedly responded, “Wow, a book exists that clearly and powerfully integrates spirituality and sexuality!” The second exposure came in October of that year when I began the Pathwork Transformation Program at Sevenoaks.
Beyond having read Creating Union, I knew relatively little about Pathwork or the Lectures when I showed up for the first time at Sevenoaks. Over the first several years of the five-year transformation program, however, I was increasingly and intuitively drawn to the wisdom of the Pathwork Guide as reflected in the tome of 258 standard Pathwork Lectures. Something inside me said over and over again, “Yes, this is truth, this is truth!” And I was most hungry for this truth, truth on such a broad scale, seamlessly integrating spiritual, intellectual, psychological, emotional, physical and sexual aspects of our lives as human beings!
During those initial years in the transformation program I read the lectures as a dutiful student who was trying to learn the Pathwork teachings, concepts, and practices. Yet more importantly, I found that just spending time with the Pathwork material per se, and not worrying about remembering the facts, moved me and drew me in, even though I often, and frustratingly, could remember neither the specific teachings nor in which lecture I read what.
I went on with my training after the five-year Pathwork Transformation Program. While I did not see myself as a Pathwork teacher or helper (counselor), I entered the only programs offered after the transformation program: the Pathwork Teacher and Helper Training programs. I graduated from helper training in 2008. Having graduated from all this teacher and helper training, I tried on the roles of “teacher” and “assistant helper” in several Pathwork Transformation Classes at Sevenoaks.
Although these teaching and helper roles were awkward and unnatural for me (teaching and counseling are not my natural gifts), still I loved the Pathwork lectures themselves and would gladly study them in order to teach them. There was something going on in me, a deep resonance with my soul, as I spent time with the lecture material. I could not explain this deeper resonance, but just spending time with the material, either as a student or now as a teacher preparing to teach, quickened and enlivened my soul.
Because I am an audio learner and spend much time on the road listening to audio material, in 2003 I began trying to make audiotapes of the lectures we were using in class. In a quite amateurish but persistent way I would record my reading of the lectures using an old $29 cassette tape recorder. I would listen to these tapes on my long drives to and from Sevenoaks and while driving around town. Though the tapes were rough due to the many starts and stops of the tape in the recording process, I loved listening to the rich Pathwork material wherever I went.
Beginning in 2004 I thought a more professional recording of the lectures would be worthwhile for me and for many other Pathwork students. I approached the Pathwork Foundation to explore how we could make professional recordings of the reading of the lectures. (Note: Yes, the lectures had been recorded originally as they were transmitted through Eva Pierrakos between 1957 and 1979; however, some of the tapes of the earlier lectures – some even in German – were lost, and, more importantly, Eva had edited the words of most of the original recordings as she transcribed them into the written form. Eva had the sense that these written edits were guided and intended by the Guide. So the written version, rather than the recorded version, was adopted as the “official” version of the lectures. So if we wanted an audio version of the official version, we would have to create it).
As we tackled the professional recording project, we quickly discovered that this audio recording process was both cost prohibitive and would take many more years than we wished. The professional recording process involved a recording studio, a recording engineer, a professional actress as reader, and a senior Pathwork helper to coach the reader on phraseology, emphases, etc. The costs for such a professional approach added up, as I recall, to well-over $1,000 per lecture – or over $200,000 for them all.
Frustrated by this seemingly impractical attempt to get professional recordings of the lectures, one day in 2006 I was sitting in my office and began wondering if I myself could record the lectures in my own voice. I knew nothing about how to do this, and, while passionate about the material, I was not a “professional” speaker. Nevertheless I took a shot at it. I knew I should likely do this recording on my computer if possible. I Googled “audio editing software” suitable for recording lectures on my Mac and quickly found software that would work. I learned how to use the software by trial and error, knowing nothing about recording or editing audio material using a computer, and I was amazed that everything seemed to fall into place for me to make the recordings. And my voice, while not professional seemed “good enough.” So from 2006 until 2012 I recorded the 258 standard lectures.
The lecture recordings averaged about forty-five minutes per lecture, or just over 200 hours in all for the tome of 258 lectures (Note: the tome of 258 lectures is about 30% longer than the combined Old and New Testaments of the Bible). Because of care required to make the readings accurate in word, phrasing, and meaning, each lecture recording took me about six hours to create. In the end these recordings were accepted by the Pathwork Foundation and made available for free either via the Pathwork Website or, more recently, via Podcast on iTunes (find links here).
I was dismayed in 2012 when, just having finished the last lecture in this recording project, the software I had been using for six years suddenly was no longer available (the company offering it went out of business over night with no warning or backup) and the version I had would no longer work on then-current Mac operating systems. My recording days were thus ended. In retrospect, it was as if Spirit was facilitating this entire project, giving me the right tools for the right time, helping me along the learning curve, and then taking the tools away when the project was complete! All by chance? I think not! Pretty amazing, actually.
What I did not realize during this recording project was that making these recordings was also a beautiful “excuse” for me to spend much more time with the Pathwork Guide. Yes, the final recordings seemed worthwhile to me and to many others (I listened to all of them many times), but for me it was the spending of these countless hours pouring over each of the lectures so carefully that was so inspiring and so nurturing to my soul on a daily basis. In the process I would catch myself stopping from time to time and shouting aloud, “Yes!” in amazement that a particular truth was so clearly stated in these lectures. And while reading the lectures for the recordings, I stood at a lectern and often “felt” the presence of the Guide or Eva or other spiritual energy flow through me as I spoke and recorded the lectures.
So the work on the audio project ended abruptly in March of 2012. Then in 2013, a year after completing the audio project, another project idea arose in me, seemingly out of nowhere. I was not sure why, but I found that breaking the dense lectures up into natural poetic phrases seemed to help me digest them. It even seemed like the lectures themselves were given and written so as to lend themselves to this poetic structure in some way. In other words, it seemed as if this structure was in some way “intended” to be created at this time. I began trying this for my own use, and the work quickly took on a life of its own. I decided to make these few lectures available on my website for others to read before I would explore a wider distribution with the Pathwork Foundation.
I call this poetic rendition the Devotional Version of the Pathwork Lectures. Once again, though specific teachings and practices are, of course, important, in creating the Devotional Version, I am not drawn so much to the specific teachings contained in the lectures, but rather to just spending devotional time cozied up with the Guide as I work with the material or subsequently read it. As with the audio version, it’s as if a transmission comes to me and through me with this process of creating the Devotional Version. I find myself humbled at this possibility, yet unmistakably enlivened and inspired as I do this work each day. The work is effortless, never tiring, and always invigorating. Yes, I am seemingly “in love” with the Pathwork Guide!
Sheepishly, I shared some of these early Devotional Version lecture renditions with a few Pathwork helpers I have been working with in my own process or served with in leadership. I was surprised at the immediate and enthusiastic response. This enthusiastic support came not only from seasoned Pathworkers like Bert and Moira Shaw (New York), Sage Walker (Toronto), Catherine Karas (Pathwork Foundation Chair who lives in California), Zim Putney (Virginia) and others, but also from Pathworkers in the various classes these helpers teach.
I was deeply touched when one day Sage Walker, in her enthusiasm for this work, nicknamed me “The Happy Monk,” – “the one who pours over the ancient texts.” I smile as I take that name on as my new identity. Yes it fits! I am neither a Pathwork teacher nor a Pathwork helper in the conventional sense, but rather a very happy Pathwork monk!
Realizing this, in 2013 I began dropping out of teaching and helper roles as well as various leadership roles I had been playing at Sevenoaks. I also curtailed my lengthy blog entries I had been doing on my website for years. Rather, I focused all of my energies on what I love most: creating the Devotional Version of the Pathwork Lectures. I relaxed into this role of “The Happy Monk” that seems so aligned with my true self and clearly seems to be my Calling.
Here are a few practical notes. The Devotional Version of a Pathwork lecture is many pages longer than the standard lectures – expanding an 8-12 page lecture to 50-80 pages. This means that readers typically read them on their computers, iPads, or similar electronic devices, though some of us do go ahead and print them out in double-sided hardcopy.
I (and others) have found that another unintended but amazing thing happens in reading this Devotional Version. Although the Devotional Version is many times longer than the original, it actually can be read more quickly than the original, and, more importantly, the teachings seem to be more easily grasped and remembered because of the phraseology and structure of this version.
So far I have created 65 of the 258 lectures in this new rendition. I note that it took six years to create the audio version of all the lectures, and I suspect it may take ten years to create the Devotional Version of the full tome of 258 lectures. At my age (almost 73), this will likely take me most of my remaining days. How could my foreseeable future be any better than that!
What has been happening in all of this work, it seems to me, is that I have been given a new relationship with the Pathwork Guide. I find that I read this new rendition like poetry, slowly taking in each word and phrase. As I do this, I feel the Presence of the Guide, and not just the Wisdom of the Guide, but also the Love and Blessing of the Guide. For me the Devotional Version has become a devotional form of daily spiritual nourishment from the Pathwork Guide.
I now invite you also to consider experiencing this rendition of the lectures. Here is a link to the Devotional Version of Pathwork Lecture 204: What Is the Path? Perhaps you could spend time with this lecture and see what arises in you. Take several days to “marinate” in this material – perhaps a page or two at a time. If this experience with Lecture 204 “works” for you, you may want to try more. Here is a list of links to the others I have completed. (Note: The Pathwork Foundation and I are working on making these materials more easily available while at the same time having a contract between us protecting the copyright of the original lectures.)
Blessings on your journey,
With love, Gary – The Happy Monk