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Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 An Unedited Lecture March 24, 1972 THE MEANING OF THE EGO AND ITS TRANSCENDENCE Greetings, blessed be all of you, my beloved friends. The force of love and truth, elicited by your seeking, is pouring forth to continue the sequence, to forge another link in the chain, to give you what you need at this juncture of your path. Man's average state of mind is a fragmented piece of consciousness. In this fragmented state he is cut off from reality. He inevitably lives in fear and limitation. Yet he believes that this is all there is to his life, and he frantically clutches at this limited, fragmented state. He stems against the natural inner movement of the soul to go beyond, to expand this limited state, because the split off ego consciousness fears that doing so will dissolve his life and annihilate his existence. He ardently protects this limited state of consciousness, while it is this very limitation that creates fear and suffering. This is, broadly speaking, man's plight. It is his task, in the cycle of incarnations, to reintegrate this split off ego consciousness and to regain forever wider and deeper portions of his real self, his cosmic existence with its unlimited, infinite possibilities for life experience, joy, and creation of the self. Man believes this split off ego consciousness to be his real self. He identifies immediately with his brain, his outer intelligence, his will, his mind, all the faculties immediately available, not knowing that to whatever degree he possesses these, he has in the past made them available for himself with effort and overcoming. For there was a state in which he possessed much less awareness, power to create, ability to experience joy. His consciousness was much more limited and confined. He had to use whatever consciousness he had to enlarge his faculties and to avail himself of as yet unused potentials and dormant possibilities. This must go on and on until there is no longer any split off fragment and until man has become one with ultimate reality and cosmic consciousness. The processes of this enlargement of self, of making apparently foreign territory his own domain, are the pathwork any valid pathwork. Ego means fragmentation. As I mentioned, it is the task of every entity who is caught in this fragmentation, and therefore in the cycle of being born and dying, to enlarge his field of operation, his perception, his awareness and his power to create. The difficulty of doing so is that in the limited state of the ego separation, enlargement of the ego, contrary to reality, appears as an annihilation of the ego -- that is, of man's very existence, of his sense of self. To penetrate this illusion, he needs all available force, commitment, good will, and help -- help that he must want and reach for. This is truly man's search and man's struggle. Only as he ventures forth step by step, overcoming the inherent and innate resistance to go beyond this separated present state, does he find out gradually that there is another life beyond the ego state. He then finds out that this other life is reality and this reality is not to be feared. It is good, it is to be utterly trusted. It means thatPathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 2 of 9 there is ongoing life, self-awareness, and ever increasing joy. He finds out that the limited ego state he so ardently protected is illusion, the illusion of death and aloneness. Awareness has to be fought for. It does not come easily nor gratuitously. Remaining in the isolated ego state may appear safe and easy, but it leads to stagnation and death -- ever reoccurring death. The ego uses any number of tricks in order to maintain its separated, limited state and in order to prevent moving beyond it. I should like to show what these aspects and tricks of the ego are. In the first place, the tricks of the ego are every conceivable negativity known to mankind: any fault, any violation of integrity, truth, love, and divine law. Since all these negativities and faults, as I have often pointed out, can be summed up in the triad of pride, self-will, and fear, I shall show how the ego-tricks use these traits in order to prevent self-transcendence. The fear of the ego to lose its present state of existence, i.e., its self-awareness, is so great that it displaces the instinct of self-preservation. The ego uses this instinct in the battle to preserve its present awareness. Fear always blinds and distorts truth and reality. Thus the ego maintains itself with pride. It maintains its separate state by creating an unreal, artificial conflict between the self and others. "I am better than you," "I am more than you," or "I must prove to the world how admirable, that is, better than others, I am," "I must outdo others," "I must not be worse than others," "My interests counteract those of others, and vice versa" -- all these attitudes are pridefully put into the service of maintaining the separated state of the ego. It is always "I versus you," and this inevitably creates a spirit of one-upmanship. Whether or not an individual happens, in his present incarnation, to be further in development or lagging behind another, to use this fact as a wedge between one's own ego and those of others is completely missing the point. For, in principle, there is no differentiation. It does not even take very long on the path to find out that it is only on the most superficial level that one's interests conflict with those of others. What is really right and good can be seen right underneath the surface. According to divine law, this is right for all concerned. Therefore all measuring, comparing, competing, striving to up others makes the confinement of separation even tighter and increases the illusion that this pitiful existence is all there is to life. Also, man's prevalent tendency to live for the sake of appearance, rather than for the sake of truth, for the sake of his real feelings and interests goes under the same category of pride. The illusion of the separated ego state is so strong at this point that it seems more important to man to create an impression than to even consider what a tragic, wasteful sacrifice he makes for an entirely imaginary gain that can never, never be made. All attitudes of mask and defense, of pretense and false shame (shame of exposure, embarrassment about real feelings and one's inner reality regarding the spiritual self) belong to the category of pride; they are tricks of the ego to maintain its limited state. Under self-will belong all aspects of stubbornness, resistance, spite, defiance, rigidity. All these attitudes connote a stiffening up against change -- this is against expanding into new spiritual territory. These traits express, in effect, "I will stay where and as I am." The trick of the ego is to make this appear as desirable and to make open, flexible movement appear threatening and/orPathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 3 of 9 humiliating. Pride and fear must necessarily be coupled to self-will, just as self-will must be present where either of the other two dominates. Every one of these aspects harbors the other two as well. The refusal to move may be evaluated on a more superficial level and by dint of more personal idiosyncrasies and neuroses as spite against a specific human being or human beings -- let us say parents or parent substitutes or general authority figures. Or there might be a spiteful attitude toward life itself. But on a deeper level it is the ego's trick to remain in the isolated, separated status quo position. Under the category of fear belong all worry, anxiety, and apprehensiveness. The fear exists not only in preventing the going beyond the limited, confused state, per se; the trick of the ego is to make this move appear threatening and life-annihilating. Worrying and anxiety are also ego-tricks in that they prevent the joyousness, peace, and freedom of the cosmic reality to be gained when the present state is expanded. The entire topic of negative intentionality we have recently explored is part and parcel of ego-trickery to preserve the limited present state. Whatever the specific negative intentionality may be, it always indicates spite -- hence self-will, which always blurs the real view and falsifies the situation, so that all desirable life experience is denied. Other tricks of the ego to maintain its present "safe" position are to deny pleasure, bliss, joy, expansion, creative movement into life. The fear of all these positive states is obviously also a trick of the ego. This is such a well-known phenomenon, applying to all human beings, that it can easily be observed as applying to the common state of mankind. Other tricks of the ego are: inattentiveness, lack of power of concentration, abstractedness, absent-mindedness. These attitudes deny the focusing necessary for the ego to transcend itself. To transcend its present limited state, the ego requires a good deal of one-pointed focusing, of being all there, as it were. Laziness, tiredness, passivity are tricks of the ego. They make movement impossible and make it appear as if movement was undesirable and exhausting. We shall come back to this later. Fear of exposure, denial of showing the real feelings do not only go under the heading of pride, but they directly perpetuate isolation and therefore are being used as ego-tricks to deny oneness. Negative reactions to the negativity of others is another trick of the ego to maintain its isolated state. The moment there is negativity, the energy system functions in such a way as to deny the expansion of the ego which would effectuate self-transcendence. It denies the joyousness of true being by making something more of other people's behavior than need be. It cuts off the vision of the real life that is beyond the limited present state. Only the isolated entity experiences the terror of finiteness. Distrust and suspiciousness are not only part of the general fear that makes the ego wish to remain in the unmoving, present state and resort to trickery in order to defy the inherent naturalPathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 4 of 9 movement toward the entity's ultimate fate; while fear (distrust) is the motivating force, the ego simultaneously uses distrust as a trick to effectuate its wish for nonmovement. The ego assumes a preposterous and paradoxical position. It is intrinsically unhappy just because of its finiteness, or what seems finiteness in this present limited state. It is self-evident that the ego can only see what is within its range, within its present scope of awareness, within its present field of operation. And what it sees is, to varying degrees, limited and falsified. Hence it sees and experiences finiteness, the disconnected, meaningless universe in which the little ego is powerless and senselessly suffering. This perception of life can only alter to the exact degree as the ego overcomes the temptation to stay put. But the paradoxical position of the ego state is to fight for remaining in the very state that is often unbearably lonely, fearful, and meaningless. Unfathomable death, at the end of each living period, is terrifying, and although it is possible to escape from and deny this terror, it cannot be dissolved as long as the ego remains in its present narrow confines. Sooner or later everyone is faced with this terrifying illusory end, both with his own and with that of others. But even if this terror is not acute and man escapes from it, it remains a gnawing force in his soul, a force that must always exist until the ego gives up its resisting position. In spite of the extremely uncomfortable and undesirable position of the limited, confined ego, it clings to the very condition and to the very state that makes true vision beyond the imaginary line of demarcation impossible. This is the sickness of the ego state and the perversion of it -- to cling to the very thing it battles against. All of my friends can easily recognize themselves in this description. For the pathwork makes this incongruity of the human state very obvious. I believe it will help you all greatly to see your plight in this light and to know that this is a universal state which you are called upon to transcend. On this path, you must be concerned with and grope for an understanding of how to transcend this ego state, and what it really means. Isolation and separateness are, without a doubt and without exception, painful and tragic -- tragic because unnecessary and ironical because the ego clings to what it hates and what hurts it most. It lacks the discipline and the perseverance, the commitment and the faith to venture beyond its present scope of awareness. Suffering must exist as long as you cling to and indulge in this present state. As long as all the tricks of the ego are acted out, rationalized, denied, perpetuated, and nurtured -- as is usually the case -- man cannot help but suffer. You all know, my friends, and many of you have indeed experienced it, that every step forward on the path reveals new vistas which are very real, much more real than the previous state that you thought was the ultimate reality. Every step of the way, this newly gained reality opens life wider and fuller for you. The result is more joy, more peace, more consciousness, more understanding of the beautiful deep meaning of life, more creativity, and more intrinsic knowledge of life's eternality versus the illusion of death, the illusion of finiteness. But every one of these steps could only have been won by a tremendous amount of investment on your part. He who still wants indulgence and easy, cheap results can never, never gain this new state. He will look wistfully beyond, yet doubt that anything else could exist that would warrant the effort and the lowering of his pride. This doubt becomes then the excuse for thePathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 5 of 9 status quo that is artificially maintained. This is the sin against life, defeating life's natural movement toward evolution and unification. Discipline, courage, humility, and the ability to commit yourself -- these are not attitudes you do not possess, my friends. Everyone of you possesses every conceivable attribute in the universe. The question is only, do you wish to avail yourself of these potentialities within you, or do you wish to claim that you do not possess them and that someone has to magically "give" them to you? You often have the misplaced and confused ideas that self-discipline hampers your freedom, and, conversely, that the free person does not discipline himself. Nothing could be further from the truth. Freedom, in its real sense, is unthinkable without discipline. And, conversely, the person who indulges himself and who rejects discipline is unavoidably dependent, weak, powerless, and consequently afraid. He lacks freedom. Freedom can only be gained to the degree one uses voluntary self-discipline -- uses it for his own sake and not in order to appease and to appear good in the eyes of others. The latter attitude often leads to either actual or imaginary discipline being imposed upon the person by others. When such imposition happens -- and this is of course undesirable -- it is always a result of the denial of voluntary self-discipline which goes together with self-responsibility. Every expansion must be fought for with self-discipline, by overcoming the imbedded resistance against expansion. The discipline must be used for stringent recognition of the ego-tricks and against giving in to them. This expansion is always a step beyond a known territory. The ego in its present state (which varies of course from human being to human being) is a result of what man has already gained. The "territory" he had gained determines his degree of functioning, the scope of his experience and of his awareness. When I speak of "territory," I mean a state of awareness and of available creative life force and influx from the real world, all of which make experiencing life deeper and more meaningful. The word "territory" is thus not to be understood in a geographical sense, but in a total sense. The fences around this territory indicate the degree of the ego's self-transcendence. Every incarnation, on whatever level this may pertain, requires the entity to increase the scope of his "field of operation," to widen the fences around the fragmented ego, to bring in more reality from the world beyond the illusory confinement. Indirectly this applies to all levels. Even the most mundane, outer, physical, and intellectual knowledge and skills to be acquired increase in some way the present scope of operation and life experience and thus indirectly contribute to the total task of self-transcendence. The acquisition of new knowledge and skills also demands the cultivation of some of the attitudes necessary for self-transcendence. And every bit of new knowledge or a new skill, in one way or another, yields, directly or indirectly, more spiritual power and awareness, more experience of joy and realization of your own adequacy and potentiality. To acquire new knowledge or skills on whatever level always means overcoming laziness, the temptation to succumb to the line of least resistance. It means self-discipline; it often means hard work (the more desirable the new aspect of life is, the more real and durable, the more investment of work is necessary), trial and error, the ability to convert a failure into success. It means perseverance, patience, faith; it means overcoming fear until the new thing becomes one's own, natural "possession," until it becomes part of the personality, a "second nature," as the saying goes.Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 6 of 9 The ego's task is always first to accept the difficulties, the hardship, the overcoming, the learning process. Only when the ego has learned the more mechanical aspects of the venture can the influx of the spiritual self make the new acquisitions a spontaneous, living, effortless experience. Ego means effort; spiritual self means effortlessness. However, this desirable effortlessness is not given by magic, for this would mean that the ego is not being transcended, but avoided. The ego must change its own lazy, resistant attitudes in order to transcend itself and become compatible to unify with the cosmic, greater self. The ego must lay the arduous ground work until the real self can come through. This can be noted in every activity or skill. First there is always effort. It becomes pleasurable only when it seems, and actually is, "happening through you." If it is a manual task, the manual rules have to be learned until they become part of the ego. If it is a mental task, mental knowledge has to be painstakingly acquired first through often quite mechanical processes. Then the new knowledge will become the person's own, and the spirit can use this newly acquired expansion with its accompanying wider vision, knowledge, skill, energy, and accomplishment, to play creatively. An artist who wants to by-pass the effortfulness of learning the ground rules can never unfold his real creative ability, no matter how real it may initially be. These creative abilities will wither because he wants to cheat life. The spiritual path itself demonstrates these identical principles. As mentioned before, the ego must learn and adopt attitudes compatible with the universal, divine ones. This is, as you know, not easy. The influx and the inspiration of the spiritual self are blocked off to the degree the ego is blindly involved in its laziness, pride, self-will, fear, negativity, wish to cheat life, tendency to escape, etc. But when these tendencies are being honestly recognized and gradually given up, the influx of the world of eternal truth, love, and beauty becomes possible. So what comes first is always the arduousness of making the ego flexible; teaching it, bending and changing it; making it receptive and vibrant; letting new life energy and creative flow come through to it by identifying and abandoning its tricks. Whether it be a new knowledge, a new skill, a new attitude toward life and the universe, this changing of the ego always means that a new territory has become your own. He who withers in the narrow confines of his present state because he feels this is safe and thereby eliminates the need for effort and investment, truly withers away. He does not permit life to regenerate him, which can only happen when inner movement exists. It always seems at first frightening to go beyond the present ego-confines. New land is unaccustomed, foreign, unknown. Man wants to avoid the unknown and rather cower in fear of it than have the courage for making it known, making it his own. To make the unknown known, outside as well as inside, that is the beauty of the spiritual path. The ego is under the illusion that to stay in the stagnant, narrow confines of the already known territory (regardless of how much wider it may be compared to the territory of others, it is still narrower as compared to one's potentials and the waiting task) is easy, relaxing, restful, effortless. To get yourself up by your bootstraps and moving beyond seems terribly tiresome. This feeling is an illusion because the stagnant state is really a manifestation of contraction, and contraction is by no means relaxing and restful although it may seem so to the confused mind because of its immobility. But true restfulness is always alive and moving -- effortless moving! AndPathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 7 of 9 this is impossible in a state of contraction. You can verify this by looking around you: the people who do least are always most tired. And the people who do most are always most energized, restful, and relaxed (provided that their activity does not serve as an escape from the self). Harmonious movement is not tiring or exhausting, although the first manifestations may indeed give such symptoms to you, because to go from an unmoving state to a moving state -- on whatever level -- requires at first the acceptance of temporary effort with self-discipline, faith, courage, and humility until the effort becomes effortless. Spiritual movement is effortless. By spiritual movement I mean the movement of ultimate reality, of the totally unified entity. The stagnant state of nonmovement is really very effortful because stagnation requires an enormous amount of (often unconscious) effort in order to sustain the resistance against the natural inclination of the soul to follow its destiny. This unconscious effort then makes itself known as tiredness, exhaustion, weakness, which furnish the excuse to remain even more in the status quo. The ego uses as tricks the results of its own errors. You know that all life is movement and movement is not effortful when the entity is in harmony with his life. But it seems temporarily effortful until this harmony is being established by reorienting the ways of the ego. You then move within the rhythm of your own life stream. When you can feel the rhythm of your life stream, you have already acquired a certain amount of self-awareness, and you are already within the movement of expansion. Those who are on a path such as yours will find that some aspects of yourself are already within the cosmic movement; other aspects still resist, stagnate, and hold. The moving part of you is also the aware part. That part is capable of recognizing the meaning of the resistance to movement. That part can meditate in the way I just explained: on seeking a deeper understanding of your task in life; on the meaning of your life in the light of this lecture. You will find greater motivation to request guidance so that the stagnating part in you will yield to the moving part. Little by little you will energize the contracted consciousness that has separated itself from the whole. As I speak of ego, I do not wish to convey that the ego as such is to be totally negated, denied, and insulted. The ego is a part of divine consciousness and holds all aspects of the greater self from which it has separated itself, even if they are distorted and misused. The basic energy and consciousness of the ego is made of the same substance with which you ultimately unite once again. As I said elsewhere in a different context, the ego must be healthy in order to transcend itself, in order to venture beyond its present confines and make known and your own the as yet unknown spiritual land, knowledge, experience, creative potentialities. In order to do this, the ego must adopt attitudes that are compatible with its original nature. All the tricks of the ego, all the negativity and the evil that are imbedded strictly in the ego, have to be recognized for what they are with a very incisive, sharp self-honesty. The indulgence of denial, of glossing over, of rationalization and projection must be given up. The searchlight must be ruthlessly turned onto the little self. Only when you can put the strong light of truth -- with your ego consciousness -- on other aspects of your ego consciousness can these other aspects adopt healthy and truthful attitudes. Then the ego gradually becomes healthy, and only the healthy ego can transcend itself and unify with the of course always healthy divine consciousness.Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 199 (An Unedited Lecture) Page 8 of 9 The weak, sick, distorted ego very often wants to give itself up just because it cannot bear itself any longer. The burden of itself is too heavy. Then various forms of ego-escape, such as drugs or other means of false ego transcendence, are being adopted. But such ego transcendence is highly dangerous and is just a variation of insanity. For insanity itself is the attempt of the ego to lose or transcend itself because it can no longer bear itself. In all these false and dangerous attempts, the entity always seeks to avoid effort, pain, inconvenience, and those aspects of life with which it does not agree or which it does not understand. It seeks cheating short cuts which can never work and which require a very high price. The subsequent reaction of the entity may be to hold on even tighter to the immobile, rigid state, perhaps for many incarnations, thus making healthy ego transcendence as impossible as the false one. The only way is to use the healthy part of the ego to shed light on the sick part, to use the honest part of the ego to shed light on the dishonest part. Then ego transcendence takes place in the safest possible way. Then new territory is being acquired -- territory that was first frighteningly foreign, unknown, and apparently dark will become known, familiar, light. With this new safety, a sense of eternality is being created in the self: the deepest feeling, knowledge, and experience of life's continuum grows and thereby an enormous amount of pain and fear are automatically eliminated. But this cannot come cheaply. It requires every investment and commitment on your part. And he who does it genuinely must reap the fruits in a most concrete and tangible way. The greater your efforts become, the more of a spiritual force you lawfully elicit and make your own. Every step of truth and good will activates automatically and inexorably the powerful and creative spiritual force within and around you. Blessings and love for all of you, my dearest ones.
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