Freedom and Rebirth Through Inner Knowing
I am helped by the Pathwork Lectures’ constant emphasis on finding and trusting inner wisdom, the Heart Wisdom, the Divine Essence at the core of each of us. We are not to believe something simply because a Pathwork lecture says so, but rather test the Pathwork lectures against our inner sense of Truth. Pathwork Lecture 51: Importance of Forming Independent Opinions develops this topic (open text version)(listen to audio version). And yet even this lecture about having our own sense of truth is not to be trusted if having confidence in our own truths does not ring true with our inner Guidance. Does my inner Guidance say relying on external authority is more true than relying on inner authority? No, I “get” that ultimately I must rely on inner authority to be free. But really it is a both/and not an either/or, since external and internal authority interact.
I was struck by a passage in Karen Armstrong’s book The Great Transformation – The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions where she describes this same idea from the Buddha (pages 284-285 – click to open). The idea is to deepen our own consciousness and come to an ever-deepening sense of Truth, a profound sense of Truth from within our deepest Essence.
How has this worked for me? First of all it worked when I was an adolescent reading the Bible, books on cosmology, quantum physics, chemistry, the Lutheran Catechism, and the like. All of these writings fascinated me. I took them seriously and was inspired deeply by my sense that they held truth.
But I was also conflicted by the inconsistencies between my Lutheran teachings about the Bible – the importance of inerrancy, the importance of the Lutheran Confessions as the final word on doctrine, and the insistence that at its core our being was fundamentally evil and hence we were hopeless without God sending Jesus to die for our evil and sins so we could “go to heaven” when we died.
I found that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod made a big deal of the importance of “their” external authority over us “mere parishioners” in the matter of establishing Truth for all the faithful to “hold fast to” in order to be “saved.” And so open discussion on such matters in my family, who were deeply entrenched in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod on both sides, was simply not possible. There was no encouragement for independent thinking or for curiosity about our epistemology behind what we faithfully believed.
It amazes me how entrenched I was in this rigid framework when my basic nature was so curious about all matters related to Ulitmate Truth, meaning of life, purpose of life, etc. In the end, at late age of 57, I broke away from the LCMS, and at first I threw the baby out with the bathwater – thinking myself a victim of the LCMS. But after eight years or so, including six or so years of Pathwork, I could deeply appreciate some of the rich foundational teachings in the Bible and see how the rigidity of the LCMS was a blessing in that without its rigidity I may not have come to see the prison I was in intellectually and finally find the courage to break out of the “jail” of conservative LCMS dogmatism!
Of course some of my dear friends in the LCMS are still frightened for me. Part of the teaching of the LCMS is their interpretation of the Bible that says all of us humans are evil to our core and need redemption from the outside. The Apostle Paul was certainly big on this idea. So some of my dear friends are concerned that in following my “profoundly evil heart” I am in danger of going to “Hell” when I die. I hear and honor their concern. For a while their fear for my soul led to doubts in me. Am I wrong? Am I Evil to my Core Essence? Am I being deceived by Satan working through Pathwork and other teachings? I found that while I had made a break with the LCMS at age 57, after 57 years in the LCMS these teachings of being wholly evil to my core were deeply etched upon my soul and could not be erased with one stroke.
And could not be erased through intellectual arguments pitting what Pathwork laid out against the dogmas of the LCMS. No, Truth lies deeper than the intellect and will – beyond Reason and Will. What I noticed was that the Pathwork (and other teachings, say by [click the name to open their respective quotes] Almaas, Rilke, Sandra Maitri, Borysenko, Ira Progoff, Cynthia Bourgeault, Bert Hellinger, et al), unmistakenly resonated with something deep inside of me.
In these writings, and especially in the thousands of pages of the Pathwork Lectures that I have studied, reflected on, applied, taught, and recorded, something within was awakened. There was and is an enlivening energy, encouragement, and inspiration. There was and is a sense of being reborn – the birthing forth of my Real Self, the birthing of the validity of and trust in my inner authority. The process is a resonating with my heart, a resonating that stirs and awakens my soul, and a resonating where I recognize God speaking to God within, and where my God within is coming to Life, breaking through the eggshell of my earlier life on planet Earth.
I am reminded by Karen Armstrong that the Buddha said his teachings shared with his disciples were not to be solidified into a rigid dogma and as such worshiped or otherwise memorialized. No, rather these teachings are to be used as a boat to cross the river and get to the other side. Then, the Buddha said, leave the boat behind. It has done its job. Yes, go back to share with others this process of finding and building your own boat to cross the river to Life, and use the teachings to help in that process. But do not get hung up on literalizing and dogmatizing them into rigid, and oftentimes simplified, teachings to which one can cling. Clinging to any teaching, the Buddha, the Pathwork Lectures, and other sources say, is in opposition to Life and living. From a Biblical perspective this same idea is captured in the encouragement to place the spirit of the law over the letter of the law.
And so with Pathwork, share the teachings, yes. But do not codify them into a rigid lifeless tool for the intellect. Let the lectures do their work on the soul and heart, getting beneath the intellect into the felt nature of the soul. And once they have done their job, go on. And what happens to so many, and certainly within me, is that I come back to the same paragraph of the same lecture I’ve read ten times, and on the eleventh time I get a new opening, another gift of inspiration and encouragement. So the lectures for me are a regular dynamic source of daily inspiration and guidance.
This makes “teaching” Pathwork lectures and the concepts they impart challenging for me. The lectures mean something different to me each time. How can I teach them in any way that is consistent with where I am at the time? I run the risk of oversimplifying or not connecting where each student is in his or her journey at that particular moment — which may be different in the next moment. No, all I can do is invite the students to embrace the lecture material, even just a paragraph or two, and see what stirs in their own souls. If nothing stirs, fear not. And if over time with Pathwork nothing seems to stir within, accept that this path called Pathwork does not resonate with everyone and hence is not appropriate for everyone. There is no judgment here. Rather, encourage students, who perhaps came to Pathwork seeking truth, to leave Pathwork and find their own path – the path that resonates with and inspires their own souls in a profound way.
Just in writing these words this morning I am enlivened, inspired, full of energy and Life! This resonance informs me that whatever I am doing here with Pathwork and other sources IS my path. And for me this has not been a one-time rebirthing experience. No, rather it has been a lifetime of unfoldment – going all the way back to my time in catechism class of the Lutheran Church and allowing myself to be excited by the spiritual wisdom that was awakening my soul as long as I can remember. Today what I find inspires my journey is my daily practices of awareness, conversation with Pat and other spiritual friends, and reading or listening to Pathwork lectures and other authors.
As all this settles in, phrases come to mind, phrases that could even be topics for groups gathering to deepen their journeys. These include: “Awakening Into Freedom of My Inner Authority,” “New Wine in New Wineskins,” “Awakening the Truth Within,” “Passage to Inner Freedom.”
A closing note. I see that in this Freedom of Inner Authority, everyone and everything are all included in my Tribe.
Shared in love, Gary
Well not quite the closing note. Before posting I took a break and this led me to the July 27, 2012 edition of The Week magazine where I was drawn to their “Book of the Week.” How synchronistic that it fit right in. The title of the book of the week this week is: Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt (click for Amazon link). The article concludes with, “Chucking the illusion of certainty, Holt has written a book that ‘does what real science writing should: It helps us feel the fullness of the problem’ and wonder.” This takes us right back to Rilke – “Loving the Questions.” – finding wonder from our innate curiosity that the deep questions inspire.