My Relationship with the Pathwork Lectures
This morning Pat and I talked about the challenge of finding time to read material for our respective paths, hers in Awakening Into Presence, and mine in Pathwork, notably the Pathwork Lectures. We say we love these materials, and yet time slips away and we find we have not bathed ourselves in them for any appreciable time. Pat being in her program and my being in my various Pathwork programs down through the years has helped by providing discipline — the discipline of either having to read assigned readings, do assigned homework, or having to prepared to teach a particular lesson from these materials. But what would our practices be without these programs to add structure and provide motivation (the motivation either wanting to be a good student or a good teacher)?
In reflection I observed something about myself. I love reading the lectures simply for their wisdom for my life. Yet in a way I treat spending time in the lectures, apart from doing homework or preparing lesson plans, as a luxury that I seem to think I do not deserve. Just reading the lectures for the sheer pleasure of absorbing their wisdom would, in my pattern of needing to be visibly “productive,” not be deserved. As if I do not deserve the joy of spending time in this material that I love simply because I love to do so for their inspirational impact on my soul.
So what do I do? Four years ago I decided to record all the lectures — a project that I am about 80% through. In this project, my greatest joy comes from reading and underlining and grasping the wisdom of the material at a soul level. And then I repeat this process as I record, listen, edit, listen again, and finally cut my final version of the reading — a 6-7 hour process for each lecture I suppose. I rationalize that having this “product,” the recording of the lectures for others to listen to, makes doing what I love “worthwhile.” If I did not record the lectures I might not be able to “justify” spending so much time with them. How interesting to see this.
And of course I have the side benefit of now having these recordings for my own listening. But here again my pattern of undeservedness steps in. I do not allow myself to simply sit in a chair, close my eyes, and listen to the lecture. No, rather I must be “doing something productive” while I am listening to the lectures — like my 15 hours of driving time to and from Sevenoaks or my 1-hour exercise time at the gym. How interesting. No permission to not be productive. I seem to be Martha in the popular bible story of Mary and Martha, where, while Martha is busy being productive, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, “doing the one thing needful,” as Jesus tells them both. Martha’s being productive was helpful, but not the most important thing. Mary’s choice, spending time nurturing one’s soul, now that is the truly valuable thing to do in this life.
Another observation. I am finding it challenging to prepare for the 4-day Pathwork Transformation Program coming up in less than two weeks. We are teaching two lectures: 199 The Meaning of the Ego and its Transcendence and 257 Aspects of the New Divine Influx: Communication, Group Consciousness, Exposure. In the past I would try to understand concepts in a lecture, figure out how to present them, and build some exercises whereby students could experience these concepts and integrate them into their lives. But I get so frustrated because this is NOT how I use the material and integrate it into my life. The concepts seem one step removed from the power of the words of the lecture taken line by line. Just like a 10-volume book on Christian Systematic Theology, while sooooo apealing to the mind, is one or two steps removed from the words of the bible. In their systematizing into a book of systematic theology, the authors interpret and formulate the words of Scripture into concepts that seem quite limiting in their power and relevance. And the Pathwork lectures themselves seem to warn against generalizing their content into overarching frameworks of truth.
So what to do here. I am more inclined to teach a process by which, day by day, the students could apply the wisdom of the Pathwork Lectures to their own lives, in the midst of whatever they are experiencing in life. This would be radical. Some would say the concepts are, indeed, what is important. And I would say yes AND I would say using what I might call a daily devotional reading for application and integration of the deeper wisdom of the lectures is also important — a BOTH/AND, not either/or. Let me sit with this as see what wants to unfold.
I note that I had the same dilemma with the bible in my 30s and 40s. I would “teach” bible class, but I would painstakingly take the adult students through each verse, milking the verse for its wisdom as applied to daily life. I was not terribly conscious of what I was doing here, and to be sure I did it unskillfully at times, but I also knew that presenting large conceptual frameworks for a book of the bible, while possibly interesting to the mind, would not let profound truths reach the soul.
I remember “teaching” the Gospel of John to a weekly bible class. In length, the Gospel of John is the equivalent of 2 or 3 Pathwork lectures. It took me 18 months to cover the entire gospel in my class. This is my style it seems. So I find it nearly impossible to understand how to effectively “teach” two lectures in one 4-day weekend and to do so with any kind of integrity. It seems to me that the soul is not able to digest such rich material at that rate. Better would be introducing a process by which the student could, over the three months following the weekend, digest the lecture bit by bit, applying it to wherever he or she is in life. Will have to think about this. But again, BOTH/AND, not either/or, not either generalized concepts or sentence-by-sentence application. Rather, somehow both.
And there is one more consideration, and that is the application of the material in the lectures. The lectures throw out many exercises and ways of living the lectures. With few exceptions (say daily review and meditation in three voices), I typically gloss over these offerings. What if I would try to incorporate one or two new practices into my life over the next several months. I get this message, but my commitment is not yet at this level.
What are your experiences with the Pathwork lectures or other spiritual material of this type? What works best and is most practical for your integration and growth?
With love, Gary