A Pathwork Steps Teleconference Experience

Pathwork Helpers Jan Rigsby and Lea Itkin have developed a Pathwork Steps Teleconference Format, and I found it intriguing enough to try it this past Sunday. This particular call was built on Pathwork Lecture 181 The Meaning of the Human Struggle. The process, I’m told, builds off the 12-Step-Meeting format – hence Steps in the title. As part of the prep work Jan and Lea asked us to read through eight paragraphs of the lecture, which they had conveniently copied out in the handout material. (Open this link for the homework assignment and framework of the process and call)

I decided I would participate in the Sunday call, and so Saturday evening I decided to prepare by doing my Daily Review to see what I wanted help with from the lecture and the call. I began by looking at Rumi’s The Guest House and Welcoming the Blues, a Pathwork quote from Lecture 61 Questions and Answers. These two readings ground me in welcoming all parts of me to the table to look at – a kind of pre-Daily Review ritual. So the issue that came up to look at was, “With all the effort I put into Pathwork stuff, why am I not happier or more fulfilled than I am?” I had not even read the title of the lecture we were doing yet (The Meaning of the Human Struggle), and was amazed at how perfectly even the title of the reading material fit my need (lest I think Spirit is not participating in my process!).

As I read the selections from Lecture 181, my psyche opened up with many items – and I could welcome them all:

1. Fear that my process was not working, or that I’m not really really doing my process

2. I don’t want to do my real work, the hard work required – I prefer to stay busy with effort and busy work (administrative work, perhaps even recording the Pathwork lectures is partly this), duping myself and others that I am obviously doing THE work when I am not. Busy? Yes. Working my work? No.

3. I want to be rewarded for busyness and effort, irrespective of attitude and  efficacy – I want to be rewarded indirectly for level of effort, not manifest creations directly from within my own being – the latter being too risky.

4. Actually, unconsciously until now, I don’t want to be happier or more fulfilled. In parts of my unconscious I am saying NO to life.

5. I fear feeling fulfilled. It’s too much to take in.

6. The Lecture gives a beautiful prayer, suggesting that the reader use some form of this prayer to ask for help. But with a NO to Life, I see I do not want help to grow and expand into fulfillment and joy, so I say NO to asking of help, even in prayer.

7. (This was pivotal) Again on some unconscious level, I want to work hard and I want the work to be ineffectual. In fact on some unconscious level I do not believe the work can or will be effectual. But I want others to praise me for working so hard. A kind of pity party. I become the ineffectual but addicted workaholic!

8. The Lecture catches my attention: “My happiness will contribute to the happiness of others.” My self-imposed “suffering” brings no one happiness. Now I begin to see that I really do need to pray for help, but the No is still there as well. Just be with both pieces, Gary, welcome both of these guests too. The house is getting full!

9. The Lecture then says I will have reservations about all this working out. I nearly laugh out loud – this is exactly where I am!

10. I recognize my pervasive attitude of negativity. I see its symptoms as spelled out in the Lecture: tiredness, pleasurelessness (a coined Pathwork word no doubt), all part of a destructive force in me.

11. AND I refuse to want to give it up.

12. AND I insist that I am a helpless child, a victim of life in all of this, that I CAN’T give it up.

13. Can I commit to grow up, to want to grow up? Can I ask for help?

14. At this point the Lecture invites me to ask for help – not from outside myself but from inside. I do, and my inner self says:

You don’t want my help.

You don’t want my help to work, to be effective

You don’t want Pathwork to work, to be effective

You don’t want to be happy

You want to work hard for nothing

15. Kind of shocking to have this so close to the surface. So I ask,

How can I change?

How can I want to change?

How can I want to want to change?

16. Response,

Really see how miserable you are in some aspects of your life

Really realize that this is neither necessary nor desirable

Really see what is possible in these as yet undeveloped areas – like relationships.

17. I see that I don’t believe it is possible to be better off, to be fulfilled, say, in areas like relationships.

18. But I begin to see that I have choices here. I am not a helpless child. However, I resist seeing this on a felt sense level. Yet intellectually I know that I do have a choice. I Know that…

My misery is of my own making – coming out of my images, beliefs, my attitudes.

Yes, my attitudes shape my experience…AND I have the CHOICE to change. AND I resist knowing that I have a choice …

19. So THIS right here and right now IS the HARD WORK I would rather not do, this seeing into myself, my needing to choose to make other choices. I’d rather keep BUSY and BLIND and a CHILD.

So was that amazing or what – to see all of this in one fell swoop. Just be with it, Gary, just be with it. Welcome all guests, as Rumi suggests.  These are all parts of me and to see this is to be in Truth. From here, from being in Truth, I can grow.

Sunday morning meditation

For my Sunday morning meditation I dropped in the question, “Why do I opt for hard work rather than for Joy?” Before I was even sitting on my bench answers were arising. “My ego works hard. My ego does not trust my intuition, so it has to work hard. So why do I not trust my intuition, my inner wisdom?”

More answers arose,

1. Religion was never about waking up my Spirit within. Rather it was about memorizing scriptures and creeds, about “believing” “right” dogma – including that I was a lowly sinner with nothing good inside. Inside – my intuition, wisdom, and Knowing – were all evil continuously, the dogma said. I took that in at an ego level. My ego was warned never to trust what arose within. And it held onto this belief, yet at some level Knowing it was not True. Why did I not let this –  my Knowing that my being was all evil was not True – express itself and trump my ego? Not sure. Some fear around this.

2. Career, school – though I enjoyed learning and working, the pressure was for grades and performance. My belief: there was no value or merit for doing what you loved, only for what the system said you ought to do. I would not even ask myself what I wanted to do, this would not have occurred to me.

3. Marriage – not about joyful mature and mutual love but an immature way of getting what I wanted and being a “good” husband and father in return.

4. Music – no value in taking in the joy of music, letting the soul sing. The value in music was in practicing hard to get the notes right – all the while knowing that you were not that talented and did not enjoy playing that much.

5. Dancing – being taught the steps rather than the flow – always anxious since I did not know how to let the flow (that I now know is there within me in spades) out and did not know the steps well enough to execute them smoothly.

6. I think I may be dyslexic – not able to read quickly, etc. So school was hard work. But I was “smart enough” and committed enough that hard work would bring good grades – especially in science, math, and engineering. Could not have done philosophy or psychology or theology – all subjects that I really had passion for – too much reading and language skills required.

7. So I did not learn how to connect my two worlds: my inner world (Intuition, feelings, etc.) and my outer world (work, performance, etc.).

Life was a mixture, and when I trusted my intuition my psyche got nervous and would back me up with analysis and thinking, not open to my making a mistake. And without being able to make a mistake, my intuition, feeling, and emotional side did not mature. My ego worked “good enough” to keep me trapped – if I let go and trust my intuition I might not be “good enough” and could lose what I have, so I was trapped in not letting go. So the invitation in all of this is to let go, to begin trusting my inner wisdom, feelings, emotions and intuition more, and to be OK with mistakes as I grow this inner territory.

Sunday Morning Coffee Time following Meditation

Pat began by saying where she was, and, amazingly, she was in a similar place – so much judgment about not doing even her meditation right, and so many other things. Pat: Just to accept that as my pattern and not think I’m so awful. I have this yearning for a simpler life – one being able to stay and be present to all that is arising – not less activity but more fully present to fewer things.

I shared my meditation arisings. Pat could relate. Pat: It took a long time to realize that there was not enough joy in my life before I had the courage to change. My pattern is not to trust life.  My belief, “This is all I deserve.” So I work hard at the mundane. Gary: Yes, both of us get involved in the administrative stuff rather than the creative stuff. But of course bringing order is a value as well, provided we don’t get fixated or rigid or controlling. It can be creative at times.

We talked of the spirals of life, learning these familiar lessons in the same areas of our lives at deeper and deeper levels year by year. Yes, the blues in life bring us face to face with what we need to see, face to face with those blocks that keep us in pseudo joy rather than in joy supreme! These cause and effect aspects of Life are the Spiritual Laws of the Cosmos. In this sense Pathwork is a science, as my helper Moira says. Pat: The Dali Lama says this too: Buddhism is a science of the mind.

And so we adjourned. What was the answer to my opening question: “With all the effort I put into Pathwork stuff, why am I not happier or more fulfilled?” Well I could see there were many many reasons. Just need to sit with them and begin making different choices. As Pat says, “It’s all about growing up.” Yes, and part of us doesn’t want to!

Later on Sunday came the Pathwork Steps Conference Call. The preparation had brought me so much. There were six or so of us on the call – deep sharing, and yet even more disharmonies arising in me to work on. But I could more easily laugh at myself, at us all, as we live our lives imperfectly in an imperfect world – and yet, at higher levels Knowing it is all perfect. May we get more tastes of this “It’s all perfect” feeling and yet be able to live in what is real in each moment – the perfect imperfections of it all.

Love, Gary