What is Pathwork?
Below are several takes on our question, “What is Pathwork?”
These descriptions of Pathwork are grouped as follows: 1) Five presentations on Pathwork (from a 1-page summary to presentations of 80 pages or more!) 2) How do the Pathwork Lectures themselves describe Pathwork? 3) What do others say about Pathwork? and then of course there is 4) My own Ever-Evolving Reflections on “What is Pathwork” — looking through my eyes as a self-described Happy (though amateur!) Metaphysician, Philosopher, Monk!
1) Presentations on Pathwork
1. What Is Pathwork? a One Page Summary
2. Pathwork Overview- My Beautiful Problems — beginning one’s Pathwork with “My Beautiful Problem”
3. Pathwork Described By Pathwork —
- Lecture 204 What is the Path? — Devotional Format
- Lecture 204 What is the Path? — Paragraph-numbered Format
- A presentation built on Lecture 204 — What is the Path
- Lecture 193 Résumé of the Basic Principles of the Pathwork: Its Aim and Process — Devotional Format
4. A Pathwork Metaphysics–– a (much! — 33mb) deeper dive.
5. How Pathwork Saved My Life — my personal story presented to a local Ken Wilber group
6. Recent Musings on Metaphysical Facets of Pathwork (5/18/21)
2) How do the Pathwork Lectures Describe Pathwork?
In Lecture 204 — The Path, Pathwork is described in detail — it is the standard lecture for “What is the Path.
In addition, Lecture 246 (¶36, page 43) Tradition: Its Divine and Distorted Aspects offers this succinct description:
“So, this path is many things. It is a psychology, for you obviously work on your psychological attitudes, your feelings, your unconscious processes. It is a philosophy, for you adopt new ways of seeing the world. It is a physical orientation, for you work with your body. It is a sociology, for you learn new modalities to function in your social environment. It is a new political system, for you learn to combine both tradition and change in a very new way. It is religion, for you learn about Creation, your part in it and your new relationship to God. It is all and it is none of these things. It is the creation of a new planetary being, with new values and with old truths renewed.”
3) What do others say about Pathwork?
In 1995 David Sunfellow came out with an 18-page report on Pathwork. His closing words are these:
“And finally, although I have yet to master the Pathwork material myself and, what’s more, have no formal Pathwork training of any kind, I can still bear witness to the fact that my attempts to understand and apply the material has changed my life. After eight years, I can say it is the most clearly presented, most strikingly practical, most deeply empowering material I have ever seen. Based on my own experience I believe it can indeed deliver the kind of inner (and outer) peace and happiness it promises to those of us who have enough patience, persistence and determination to follow the challenging path it champions.”
In 1999 Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of Omega Institute, in her early book The Seeker’s Guide, Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure (p341) describes Pathwork in a single phrase: “…an elegant self-transformation system that marries spirituality and psychology.” And thus I found it to be!
4) My Own Ever-Evolving Reflections on “What is Pathwork?” as a Happy Metaphysician, Philosopher, Monk
So here we go! Before talking about Pathwork, let me begin with a few framing questions such as, “What is spirituality?” and “What is a spiritual path?“
What is spirituality?
There are of course many definitions of spiritual and spirituality. I am helped by Roger Haight, S.J., theologian, in his very readable book, Spiritual AND Religious – Explorations for Seekers ©2016 . Here Haight defines spirituality as that which is transcendent (beyond direct knowing and understanding of the meaning of the cosmos and independent of the cosmos) and that which gives one a sense of ultimate reality (quoting Haight, his “working definition” of spirituality is, “Spirituality refers to the logic, or character, or consistent quality of a person’s or a group’s pattern of living insofar as it is measured before some ultimate reality.”). I would add that this “ultimate reality” is not really Ultimate Reality but rather one’s sense of ultimate reality. I would further add that this sense of ultimate reality may be conscious or unconscious — both conscious and unconscious aspects of one’s sense of reality influence one’s pattern of living.
In this sense, everyone (from atheist to religionist of every stripe: fundamentalist to mystic, young and old alike) has a spiritual nature — something that consciously or unconsciously informs and guides him or her about an ultimate reality against which his or her life choices are made.
What is a Spiritual Path?
Again there are many definitions, but for me, practically speaking, a spiritual path is that which guides one in life toward ever greater levels of consciousness of, or awareness of, or experience of Ultimate Reality.
A Jungian Framework
I have found that the Jungian framework, described by Robert A. Johnson in his memoir Balancing Heaven and Earth (and of course by many other Jungian authors — especially in two books by Murray Stein: 1. Jung’s Map of the Soul – An Introduction and 2. Transformation – Emergence of the Self) to be helpful in describing one’s path through life. In this Jungian framework life passes in two often-overlapping halves.
The task in the first half of life is ego development, and this influences the way one establishes himself or herself within the culture in which one lives. During this first half of life one establishes one’s place in the world: career, marriage, religious roots, financial foundation, house, family, and a base of friendships, organizations and causes with which to affiliate. The second half of life, usually occurring between age 35 and 50, or even later, is where the ego is transcended in some way that brings more meaning to life as well as more consciousness of Ultimate Reality.
First half of life — Ego Development
What is the basis of ego development in the first half of life? This is a complex matter, but in general it comes out of childhood and establishes the way the child learns to have patterns of behavior that bring maximum pleasure and avoid pain. For some this involves compliance — fitting into the culture through obedience of authority, performing better than peers, behaviors through which one receives rewards for obedience and punishment or humiliation for not obeying authority or not performing better than others, and so on. The rewards for compliance later in life can be financial and career success, reputation for leadership and talents, and a satisfying family life, etc. For others ego development involves rebellion against the culture, doing one’s own thing, defying authority, and the like. This rebellion, too, can work if one is focused on his or her talents and gifts.
Resources to help guide one through the first half of life include guidance from parents, family, teachers, peer relationships, one’s religious affiliation, etc., and if these are not enough, then life coaches (practical help with life skills or career direction) or psychotherapists (help to overcome debilitating childhood wounds, overcoming relationship issues, addictions, and debilitating depression, and the like) . All of these resources help to ground the person in some modicum of success and satisfaction in the first half of life. The goal in this first half of life is having a “Good Enough” life.
Second half of life — Transcending the Ego — entering the spiritual path
For some people, after building a “Good Enough” life in the first half of life, “something” begins to be unsettled and to move “within” a person, stirring his or her being, “awakening” him or her out of what in retrospect will have seemed to have been “sleepwalking” through life on “automatic pilot” during the first half of life. This “something” that begins to awaken the soul is often experienced as an inner force, a Call, or an intuitive sense of purpose that is being energized and that is somehow “beyond” the meaning and purpose one experienced in the first half of life.
If (and this is a life-changing “IF”) one chooses to follow this inner Call or force, it changes one’s sense of Ultimate Reality forever — what had appeared as real and what had guided one’s life on automatic pilot during the first half of life is no longer perceived as ultimately real. And the big change in the second half of life is coming to see that Ultimate Reality is not some fixed thing one is hoping to eventually perceive and experience, but rather Ultimate Reality is a dynamic, living, endless, ever-growing, ever-changing, ever-expanding, forever unfolding Ultimate Reality! AND Ultimate Reality transcends AND includes all that went “before.” AND since Ultimate Reality is “timeless,” there is no “before,” “present” or “after.” AND no “good” or “evil” in the inherent “Oneness” of Ultimate Reality!
Some experience this radical change in one’s a sense of ultimate reality early in life, others in the familiar “midlife crisis,” and others still later. As one chooses to respond positively to this call and grows in consciousness or awareness of an ever-new “Ultimate Reality,” one perceives life in ways never before experienced. And once perceived in a new way, one cannot go backwards to old ways of seeing. Pandora’s Box has been opened! One has now entered the second half of life, or embarked upon his or her spiritual path.
Other Frameworks for Levels of Consciousness and Sense of Ultimate Reality
As an aside, I mention here that there are frameworks other than the Jungian first-and-second-halves-of-life framework for describing personal and spiritual growth. One I have found helpful is the work of Ken Wilber and Don Beck. This framework is called Spiral Dynamics, and here are two resources that describe this framework: 1) An article from What Is Enlightenment featuring an interview with Don Beck on Spiral Dynamics and 2) a presentations I made in 2008 on Tier 3 consciousness (that today some call Nondual).
Troubles along the spiritual path
All is not a bed of roses in this awakening process to the second half of life or spiritual path! First of all one has no real idea how to live in this new sense of ultimate reality. At first everything is confusing and unfamiliar. Secondly, most of these changes in one’s sense of ultimate reality, while different from the old sense of reality, are still wrong in some sense. One typically has many distortions and misperceptions which, while adequate for “good enough” living in the first half of life, actually block progress in the second half of life. AND these distortions and misperceptions do not usually disappear in “one grand awakening” to Ultimate Reality! Part of the work in the second half of life is to discover and change these distortions and misperceptions.
The spiritual path is usually lifelong. In the first half of life the spiritual path could be a particular religion that either came from one’s family of origin or was selected for some other set of reasons later in the first half of life. In entering the second half of life one discovers that the many paths that can be followed are illusions and lead one into painful pitfalls or blocks or dead ends. All of these pitfalls and blocks are opportunities for learning in the second half of life. Often a person “following” his or her spiritual path in the early stages of the second half of life feels lost and confused, groping in the dark for the “right” or at least “best” way to live in the light of the new sense of ultimate reality. And as one continues to grow, one’s sense of ultimate reality changes — again and again — since Ultimate Reality changes continuously. Discouragement, sometimes profound in a so-called “dark night of the soul” experience, is often the result.
Help for “The Dark Night of the Soul”!
Resources that were helpful in the first half of life — one’s family, religious affiliation, teachers, friends, and one’s life-coaches or even sometimes one’s psychotherapists — do not seem to be helpful in the second half of life. These resources that were so useful in the first half of life can actually be impediments and blocks to the second-half-of-life journey. Where can a person find help for the second half of life? Eventually the person, now a more conscious AND a more wary seeker, discovers a need or hunger for some new and deeper kind of help — a spiritual director, a Jungian psychotherapist, a spiritual practice, a guru, or a body of wisdom literature that will nourish, inspire, encourage, and guide him or her along the way in this second-half-of-life experience.
Sometimes one searches for some kind of metaphysical framework or map for the spiritual journey as well as a set of practices and resources that help to ground and expand the experience of what the seeker now discovers to be his or her personal (i.e., psychological) and spiritual development in the second half of life. We call such body of help, such a set of teachings, tools, practices and resources for the second half of life, one’s chosen spiritual path. Usually this path is unique for each person and is comprised of a set of resources of different types and modalities. An interesting resource for configuring one’s unique spiritual path is Thomas Moore’s A Religion of One’s Own.
The importance of BOTH psychological AND spiritual development in the second half of life
It is important to recognize that the psychological AND spiritual work go together — BOTH are required throughout life, but especially in the second half of life where the spiritual side often gets emphasized. When psychological development is ignored, spiritual bypassing can occur and the person becomes an “enlightened jackass,” as Ken Wilber points out. The shadow work is always there and is often darker as the work goes deeper along the spiritual path. Many enlightened gurus in the West have fallen prey to this trap, and while enlightened, still in some areas of life live out the shadow side of their personality.
Psychotherapy in the two halves of life
In Balancing Heaven and Earth, Jungian therapist Robert Johnson speaks of people coming to him either in their twenties for help in first-half-of-life issues (career, relationships, addictions, etc.) or in their forties for help in second-half-of-life issues (loss of meaning, purposelessness, “successful” but lost, etc.).
Johnson then mentions that the hardest people to help were those who would come to him in their forties facing BOTH first AND second-half-of-life issues at the same time. Often their first half of life was quite undeveloped or underdeveloped and had not led to a “good enough” life from the perspective of successful career, good relationships with family and friends, or financial stability AND at the same time life was losing its meaning and purpose — which are second-half-of-life issues.
Which spiritual path to choose?
There are a multitude of spiritual paths from which to choose — and more come on the scene every day. Formal religions can be such a path, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and the many others — and each of these have many branches to choose from — from fundamentalism to mysticism and everything in between. And there are a host of other “spiritual but not religious” paths — and these seem to be the fastest growing groups these days.
Usually the seeker grows through several spiritual paths in his or her lifetime. Some paths help more in the beginning, during the first half of life, as the seeker gets his or her feet on the ground. Fundamentalist forms of religions (Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) usually fit in this category. Other spiritual paths seem to fit better later on the second half of life as the questions become deeper and the searching more profound. This growth can occur within a particular religion as one moves into the higher states of consciousness within that tradition’s more mystical stages. Or it can be a new path altogether for the seeker.
What is Pathwork?
So in this vast field of spiritual paths, what is Pathwork? Pathwork is a spiritual path that includes BOTH depth-psychological AND spiritual dimensions of the work required for addressing second half of life issues. (NOTE: some have found Pathwork quite helpful in first-half-of-life work, but my experience is that other sources of help — life coaching and specialized professional psychotherapy — are better suited to people struggling more serious problems during the first-half-of-life whereas Pathwork seems to me to be particularly suited to second-half-of-life work that blends depth-psychology with spirituality — at least that has been my experience with Pathwork)
Pathwork is 1) a body of helpful inspirational wisdom and metaphysical writings, 2) a set of processes, practices, classes, groups, programs and workshops, and 3) a network of experienced helpers, counselors, spiritual directors and teachers making up a rich spiritual community to support the seeker in his or her psychological and spiritual development, leading one toward his or her home, fulfillment and God in the second half of life.
1) The Pathwork wisdom writings
In Pathwork, the body of helpful inspirational writings consists primarily of a set of Pathwork lectures given through Eva Pierrakos over a 22-year period between 1957 and her death in 1979. I say given “through” rather than “by” because Eva sensed that the material coming through her in trance sessions was from beyond her and came from an unnamed source dubbed simply the Guide. The lectures were given monthly in the presence of an ever-growing group of followers in and around New York. The lectures were recorded. After each lecture Eva, who was in a trance state of conscious and not aware of what was coming through her during the lecture, transcribed the lecture from the recording and distributed it to the attendees and others. She sensed that she was still under the influence of the Guide in her transcriptions and would make (usually small and sometimes not so small) changes in the lectures accordingly. The transcribed lectures became the Pathwork source of wisdom material for study and growth.
During the 22 years that Eva channeled these lectures, 258 were given in all, along with 100 or so Question and Answer sessions in which attendees would ask questions and the Guide would answer. These Q&A sessions, too, were transcribed by Eva and distributed.
My first exposure to Pathwork lectures (in a book of compiled lectures) was at the age of 58 in 2000. While I grew up conservative Lutheran, was intensely involved in leading bible classes for 30 years, and was taught that the bible was the only reliable source for truth needed by humankind, somehow the words of these Pathwork Lectures, the lack of clarity concerning their origin (i.e., “channelling” the Guide) notwithstanding, have truly inspired me, challenged me, and rooted me in a path of the most intense psychological and spiritual development I can imagine.
Overcoming my conservative Lutheran and Christian Fundamentalist upbringing that claimed that such “foreign” writings could only be suspect at best and Satanic at worst, I can only say how they have impacted and continue to impact my life. I receive these Pathwork lectures not only as practical teachings about the means for psychological and spiritual growth but also as an energetic transmission and inspiration that I take into my being in snippets many times during most days. Sometimes I am moved nearly to tears as pieces of “truth” resonate so deeply with my inner “truth knowing,” the resonance seemingly “calling forth” truth from deep within my being.
2) Pathwork Programs
Almost immediately after I found Pathwork (August of 2000) I got involved with the 5-year Pathwork Transformation Program at Sevenoaks Retreat Center (2000-2005) and then with the 2-year Pathwork Teacher Training (or Advanced Pathwork Studies classes) and then a 3-year Pathwork Helper Training class, from which I graduated in 2008. Since 2012, my most significant Pathwork group experience has been the Sacred Dimensions of the Pathwork, a program consisting of 4 independent 3-day offerings. These have been offered each year beginning in November 2012. An example of the 2017-18 program.
The processes used in Pathwork programs, in addition to the teachings of the Pathwork Lectures, include Gestalt-like group processing, Core Energetics (derivative of Bioenergetics), Breath-work, and several forms of meditation and other personal practices for inquiry and reflection. My greatest challenge has been, and is, moving from my head to my heart and body. These process activities in Pathwork group programs have been invaluable for my progress in this challenging area of my life.
3) Pathwork Helpers and Teachers
Pathwork includes a network of experienced Pathwork helpers (counselors) and teachers. These are people often with decades of training and practice in all aspects of Pathwork. This group of helpers and teachers is a rich resource to tap for personal and spiritual development work.
As interesting and inspiring as the Pathwork Lectures are for me and so many others, the Pathwork Guide notes that reading and studying the Pathwork Lectures can be interesting and inspiring, studying these Pathwork materials is not to be confused with the Pathwork spiritual path. This is succinctly spelled out in a quote I named Merely Reading and Studying Pathwork Lectures is NOT the Pathwork Path which is a paragraph near the end of Pathwork Lecture 57 – The Mass Image of Self-Importance. In this quote the Guide speaks to the importance of having an experienced Pathwork helper to accompany one on his or her Pathwork journey.
4) Spiritual Practices
Pathwork includes a number of practices. One such daily practice meditation. Many forms of meditation are given in Pathwork, including an entire lecture on one such practice: Lecture 182 The Process of Meditation (Meditation for Three Voices: Ego, Lower Self, Higher Self).
Another Pathwork practice is Daily Review. In daily note notes one’s disharmonies each day. Then, by looking at these disharmonies over time, one gradually learns what beliefs, misunderstandings, and patterned unconscious behaviors in oneself causes these disharmonies, and finally one takes self-responsibility for changing wrong beliefs and behaviors that are root causes.
Is Pathwork Christian?
While Eva was of Jewish descent, as were many in the Pathwork community, Christ is central in the metaphysics of Pathwork. But Pathwork encourages self honesty and development and warns against “belief in” “top down” superimposed doctrinal or metaphysical teachings. (See this Pathwork Quote regarding “Is There a God?” — Existential Theism”)
Whether or not Pathwork is not only “Christ-centered” but also “Christian” depends upon which flavor of Christianity one holds. In a Q&A session (Pathwork Lecture 63) a question about Christian faith came up, and the Guide spoke to this question directly. I find this reading quite helpful in framing how Pathwork views, say, Evangelical Christianity.
I would say that Pathwork aligns well with Christianity (and other spiritual paths) as an evolutionary spiritual path through which one reaches ever higher levels of consciousness as described by the Episcopal Priest Cynthia Bourgeault in several of her books including, among others, 1) The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Perspective on Christ and His Message (©2008), 2) The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity (©2010), and 3) The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice (©2016).
I also find Roger Haight, S.J.’s book The Future of Christology ©2005 an excellent framework for discussions on Christianity. From my perspective, Haight makes increasing room for much of the metaphysics of Pathwork in an ever-evolving Christology. His The Future of Christology builds upon his previous book Jesus Symbol of God ©1999. I have not yet read Jesus Symbol of God but in thumbing through its pages I find I am very drawn to it (from within) for meaning in my own wrestling with the ultimate Mystery of Jesus Christ and am eager to get into more of Haight’s perspectives. I have also acquired his 3-volume work Christian Community in History (©2004-2008), again because I am attracted to his careful accessible scholarship on these topics central to my Christian spiritual journey. Finally, I am also embarking upon a 1981 standard on these matters written in 1981 (when he was 41) by James W. Fowler: Stages of Faith — The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning.
The final book that Fowler wrote was in 1996 (at age 56) and in it he updates his foundational 1981 book – and I find it very helpful as well: Faithful Change – The Personal and Public Challenges of Postmodern Life. In this work Fowler is inspired by Ana-Maria Rizzuto’s book: The Birth of the Living God – A Psychoanalytic Study. Rizzuto’s book speaks to the impact of one’s childhood on one’s capacity to have a “healthy” faith. These are all works of interest to one who is drawn to seek out his or her roots of his or her spiritual life and experience of God.
For those who, like me have come out of a conservative (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) or Fundamentalist Christian background, I have found it helpful to back off from Jesus Christ for a while — dropping ALL dogma that, since my youth through my 40’s, have defined who Jesus Christ is for me. Using Haight’s framework, this would be primarily dropping all “from above” approaches to defining who Jesus Christ is. This includes dropping (or holding lightly) who the Pathwork Guides says Jesus Christ is in the Pathwork Lectures.
When one’s mind, soul, heart and psyche are clean, then one can trust that the real Jesus Christ can, if Jesus Christ is in fact “real,” reveal who Jesus Christ is from within and what that means for one personally. This period may feel like a form of “atheism” as familiar doctrines and teachings fall away. If you are honest with yourself, it may be months or, like for me, years or decades to sweep the soul clean from all images (though I found myself, out of fear, holding on to many outdated images of Jesus Christ that were imprinted deeply upon my mind during my youth and first half of life — all of this coming to let go of familiar Christian teachings has been a challenging part of my spiritual journey — my calling, if you please).
PERHAPS your experience/intuitive Knowing will be coming to trust that the real Jesus Christ is (and PERHAPS you’ll experience/intuitively Know Christ has been all along) within one’s mind, heart, psyche and soul. But you will Know this intuitively from the inside, not superimposed from the outside. Perhaps then one can look at sources from without. For example, one could take up how the Bible (read in a fresh way), various other gospels (see Bourgeault’s books referenced above for some of these sources), the Pathwork Lectures, and other materials (like Roger Haight, S.J., Bourgeault, et al) and experience what they awakened within one’s soul.
Such is the development of faith throughout one’s life. Faith, or trusting in “life” or “God” from the developmental experiencing of an inner intuitive Knowing, is very different from confessing as “true” a set of beliefs or doctrines one has held by memory because one has given outside teachers, authors, scholars, family members, and others authority to say what Ultimate truth is and how one should lead a “good” and “meaningful” life.
In faith there is freedom, life, expansion, and growth in consciousness and awareness. In contrast to such an evolving faith, in clinging to and being fixated on a set of beliefs one creates a false sense of security, a self-made prison that keeps one from exploring the Mystery that life is, and an ever-growing existential fear.
At various points in my own journey I inquired as to how these outside resources resonated with the fresh and newly emerging Jesus Christ within. If they resonated with where I was at the time, I let the materials inspire my connection to Jesus Christ. If not, I let it go as “not for me” — at least not yet, perhaps later they will resonate with me as my consciousness grows.
For me this has been an ongoing process of letting go of the “old” Jesus Christ revealed in all my previous exposures to religious and spiritual material (including Pathwork). This has been a process of letting the “old” Jesus Christ die so that, unencumbered with “old” structures from without, the “new” Jesus Christ could be revealed and awakened from within.
For me, this has been a kind of evolving and ongoing Easter experience — encountering the resurrected Jesus Christ and allowing my life with Jesus Christ to evolve, still slowly because of encumbrances, and inspire me to ever expanding levels of consciousness, wisdom and love.
In this gradual unfolding and awakening from within, I have found Pathwork to be a tool for expanding my relationship with Jesus Christ, an ever more Mysterious Jesus Christ, and so I would say from that perspective, Pathwork IS Christian!
However I have also found it helpful to read sources that would challenge my view that Pathwork is Christian and encourage those interested to consider these sources. I’ll name two. The first is Bad Religion — How We Became a Nation of Heretics ©2012 by Ross Douthat, New York Times Columnist. See especially Chapter 7 — The God Within. Here he would say that the idea of a divine essence of the human being is heresy and that only Jesus Christ was both fully divine and fully human in the doctrine of the hypostatic union. The second book would be The Reason For God-Belief in an Age of Skepticism ©2008 by Tim Keller, pastor.
To integrate both of these books into the framework of Pathwork I refer again to James Fowler’s Stages of Faith-The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. This work builds on two ideas already introduced. First, the difference between faith and confessional beliefs and secondly on the idea that one’s faith evolves over one’s lifetime. From the latter point, I see Douthat and Keller speaking to a stage of faith that is closer to that of a person in the first half of life (spiritually, not chronologically) rather a faith that one would have, say, in the second half of life. When Tim Keller wrote his book The Reason for God, he says that the average age of the members of his large diverse New York City church was 30. That is impressive, but it seems to me to speak to first-half-of-life Christians. The reader will have to draw his or her own conclusions on this matter.
Summary of Pathwork
To summarize, having been working with Pathwork since 2000, because its truths resonate so deeply with my soul, I have found the Pathwork program in its entirety ideal for my spiritual growth and personal (psychological) development. If you would like to know more, Pathwork Lecture, #204-The Path gives a framework for these teachings. I also find Pathwork Lecture 88 Religion: True and False and Pathwork Lecture 105 Humanity’s Relationship to God in Various Stages of Development helpful in framing Pathwork in the context of one’s spiritual development and religion.
Are there other paths like Pathwork?
There are of course many spiritual paths and self-help programs. My sense is that some paths emphasize the spiritual side sacrificing the depth-psychological work required. One could follow any number of spiritual teachers, go to their workshops, read their books, etc., but not really do the hard depth-psychological and spiritual work (meditation, etc.) required for true personal and spiritual development.
On the self-help side, some paths emphasize working to change childhood beliefs and other impediments to psychological growth in order to realize success and abundance, but they often leave out the spiritual side entirely.
I found that I was drawn to Pathwork precisely because it so strongly emphasizes BOTH the depth-psychological and spiritual sides of the work. On the spiritual side, coming out of a strong Christian background, I was also helped by Pathwork being Christ-centered in its metaphysics.
I am aware of two other programs that emphasize BOTH depth-psychological AND spiritual work. The first is the Diamond Approach developed by A.H. Almaas (Reference in Audible: Endless Enlightenment: The View of Totality in the Diamond Approach). The second is Ken Wilber’s Integral Life Practice. The former is current and active, the latter may have not caught on.
Is Pathwork right for you at this time in your life?
Of course, like any spiritual path, Pathwork must be tried AND practiced for a while (perhaps years) to do its work, not just read about. Could it be right for you where you are now in your life –right for discovering and dealing with the deeper issues of meaning, peace, joy, and fulfillment in your life? Men and women in the Pathwork programs I have been in have ranged from age 20 to 75, have included MDs and Marines and moms and dads and lawyers and students, have come from all kinds of religious and non-religious backgrounds. Most, especially those entering the second half of life, have found the programs and materials rich and very helpful. I can just say how Pathwork (with some of the other programs I am or have been in) has helped me and continues to help me find fulfillment, love, pleasure, and peace in the labyrinth of life, helping me return to my home in God.
Some Closing Words and References for Future Thought
It is September of 2017. Over the past six months several books have inspired, informed, and led my spiritual journey. I suspect they, along with the Pathwork lectures, shall do so for the rest of my life. As with Pathwork, I find I must read these materials slowly, reflectively, and devotionally. And I realize that ten years ago, or even two years ago, I could not have understood what they were talking about — and still don’t, but intuitively they offer me guidance in the direction that my soul longs to adventure.
Caveat: I find that studies in FAITH are very complex subjects to grasp. To begin down such paths could feel like going down a black hole. I realize I am merely at the opening of that hole. While I am not choosing to spend my remaining years wrestling with the many academics on this subject, I am satisfied that I have an adequate frame for my spiritual journey — at least for now…
So here are the references to peruse:
Stages of Faith – The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning by James W. Fowler © 1981
The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker ©1973
The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich ©1952