Challenges in Sharing Pathwork as a Spiritual Path
An open letter to Pathwork practitioners, helpers, and teachers…
In preparation for a gathering of her spiritual community, Pat has been deeply into her readings of some of the Tibetan Buddhist material that supports her for this Awakening Into Presence program. She is finishing her sixth year in this program. As I often am with Pathwork Lectures, she was deeply moved these past few days by the Buddhist materials she was reading, or rather, re-reading for who knows how many times. But, she confessed, it was as if she were reading these materials for the first time, again an experience we in Pathwork all seem to have with Pathowork lectures.
So I asked her if reading this Buddhist-oriented material six years ago grabbed her the same way then as now. Her answer was no, her passion has grown as the teachings have seeped into her cells over the years. Handing a prospective candidate for the AIP program some of these esoteric teachings to spark interest would not work. The candidate simply would not get them. It would be like reading Chaucer or something in a foreign language. Even the Pathwork Guide speaks to the challenge of preparing to give the lectures in a way that new people get something and at the same time veterans get something very much deeper.
I have a psychiatrist friend who is into Baruch Spinoza — is loving this stuff. But, he confesses, he read this same material ten years ago and could not get it at all and had to set it aside. He was struck by why today this material is so alive for him while 10 years ago he understood none of it. I would say that such is the inherent nature of a Spiritual Path: We have to be on a path that resonates with us for 5-10, OK, sometimes 20-30, years before it really takes hold and transforms our life. So how do we introduce new spiritual seekers to Pathwork so they can discern whether or not Pathwork will serve them as a viable and powerful framework for their Spiritual Path? First they have to understand the nature of any spiritual path — namely, that the nature of a spiritual path is way beyond learning a body of teachings as one might do in a survey course of religions.
I think the teacher has a lot to do with this introducing a person to Pathwork or any spiritual path. I think a teacher steeped in the teachings, who lives the teachings in a profound way, inspires folks, and those who resonate with the teachings and the teacher at a Soul level, though they may not “get” the teachings at all at first, even intellectually, or may even resist them, thinking them to be esoteric or quaint, will hang with the teacher until they get rooted on their spiritual path of choice. This, I would say, is the purpose of the five-year Pathwork Transformation Program — to root the Soul on its spiritual journey.
I see us as Pathworkers struggle to come up with short catchy explanations of what Pathwork is. I think this may be futile. Rather we, as Pathworkers — teachers, practitioners or helpers — living the teachings deeply, are the message. I was challenged by a friend of mine to give him a 3-minute explanation of Pathwork. I worked hard on this and had what I thought was a good description. I shared it with my helper Moira. She responded in her wise way, “Gary, you and your life, wrestling with, discovering, and living Truth as best you can, are the Pathwork message to your friend. Your words of explanation on paper or spoken, no matter how eloquent, will never work.”
Shared with love, Gary