Boundaries and Standards of Behavior

Compassion and kindness are beautiful but so are boundaries and standards of behavior.

People want to be held at high standards of behavior even if they don’t know it. Because guilt is harder to bear than anger and truth is more liberating than what seems advantageous.

If you meet people with kindness and compassion all the time for the things that they do, you are also enabling bad behavior. And you are also taking upon yourself the consequences of their actions.

People need to experience the impact of their own mistakes and patterns of behavior and that is what honest reflection allows them to do.

Your boundaries benefit others too.

On Fearing Emotions

When you fear feeling a certain feeling, you set up all sorts of defenses and strategies to keep yourself from feeling that feeling. For instance, if you fear that you might be bad, you will try to convince others of your goodness by not displaying healthy negative emotions and by allowing yourself to be mistreated, thereby bringing to life various formations geared towards obtaining the confirmation from the outside that you are good. The fear of experiencing that emotion of being bad is what sets everything in motion. As always, the difficulty of it is that it is unconscious, which means you are not aware of the force that is driving you into action, appearing as a spontaneous inner impulse. “I just feel that way.”

But if you observe yourself like you are an objective thing in the world you can ask yourself “what am I trying to get from others?” and it is very likely that you will find that you fear the opposite in yourself. So if you try to convince others you are good, you are probably afraid that you are bad.

So what can you do when you find that fear? Agree to it! Fine, I am bad! And feel whatever pain/fear/anger/etc. might arise in association with that. So, ok, fine, I am bad. Game over. But don’t fall into the trap of judging yourself for it or trying to change it, just feel it as it is. And then you can release it.

The thing is that when you fear an experience on the spectrum of emotions, you bind yourself to it and you filter reality through the fear of being that, but the moment you go through the experience, it dissolves. It has nothing on you anymore. The reason you fear it is that you believe it is a permanent, immutable reality when the truth is that you are maintaining it because you fear going through it.

So back in childhood, because you didn’t allow yourself the feeling/experience of being bad, you carried it with you into adulthood, but feelings are there to be felt and let go, they carry information and then they leave. It is us who turn them into verdicts.

“Multiple I’s” by Red Hawk

One of the hardest Work ideas to understand is the claim that, as we are, we are not unified beings inside, a single “I”, always and everywhere the same, but a multitude of “i”s inside, a self divided, fragmented into dozens, even hundreds, of fractious, competing, warring “i”s, each with its own agenda, tone, mood and beliefs. It is impossible to understand this right away in any way except intellectually. I believe I am one, whole, undivided and I am constructed in such a way psychologically that the truth of my inner state is impossible for me to see. Psychology has labeled such a state schizophrenia and called it mental illness. Yet it is the state of the entire humanity; everyone I ever met, without exception, suffers from this inner state.

But we cannot admit to such a thing. To do so would place us in jeopardy. They have a place for people like that. And so to avoid being shot, or jailed, or placed in an institution, we have all developed elaborate disguises, masks, acts, games, false personalities to hide our real inner state of fragmentation. And slowly, slowly I come to believe in this pretense as my real self. I will fight to defend it against attack or exposure.

I am a mass of contradictions. I see this in others, often it is quite obvious, and I cannot understand why they do not see it themselves, even when I point the contradiction out to them. Often they may be quite insulted and defensive when I do so, and deny any such thing in their behavior. I do the same. I cannot believe that inside I am in such a shattered, fragmented state.

And the result is that I act as if myself and everyone else were whole, united, a single, stable, unchanging “I” within. Thus, if X says she will do something and the next day she does not do as she has said, I am insulted, angry and believe that X is a liar, not to be trusted. I may even end my friendship with X if the insult is great enough, or even if it is a small thing. We end relationships all the time over petty grievances. Why? Because in the first place we believe the other to be the same “I” always and in every circumstance, and secondly because I myself am governed by many small “i”s, each of which has its own agenda, and one of them, full of self importance and unable to value my friendship with X, decides to end it; it thinks for me, speaks for me, and acts in my name. Having done so, the damage may be irreparable. I may pay for the rest of my life for the momentary impulsive action of a small “i” in me which the next moment or the next hour or the next day no longer is in charge but has disappeared.

And if you ask me the next day why on earth I said and did such things to X, I will tell you quite honestly, “I don’t know. I don’t know what I could have been thinking.” Or else, I will blame X and justify my behavior towards her with the most transparent and obvious falsehoods and excuses. This is my state and it is the state of every single person I have ever met, without exception. This state of fragmentation runs my life. It is why I cannot follow a single line of action to its logical conclusion, especially if such a line of action must be carried out over a long period of time, days, months, or even years. I will begin a certain line, even one which has great importance to me such as marriage, and will begin at once to deviate from this line into a hundred diversions, many of them directly opposed to the original line, until finally I find myself doing the exact opposite of what the original line of action proposed. I end in divorce, or I whore and drink and do terrible damage to my marriage. How can I do such things? It is simple. The “i” which made its vows before God and man to never part, to be ever faithful until death meant these vows with all its heart, so long as it had control of the human biological instrument. But once another “i” gained control, all was forgotten. Or what is worse, the “i” which now holds sway has not forgotten those vows, but it is diametrically, even violently opposed to them and does not want to have anything to do with them. In fact it curses the position it finds itself in and cannot believe it has gotten into such an awful mess in the first place. “What was I thinking when I married her?”” it will ask, having no memory at all of the state of that other “i”. In its world, the only thing which matters is drinking and whoring. Never mind the consequences to self or others. Each of these “i”s wants only what it wants, when it wants it, and how it wants it. “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

This is what is happening in me every moment of every day, for my entire life.

Not just me, every one of us. One small “i” will take control of the instrument momentarily, will choose for me, will speak in my voice, will act in my name, and my whole life and the direction that life takes may hinge on that small and seemingly insignificant moment. And “I” am not even present, “I” don’t know what happened, the implications for me, the importance of the choice, none of that. I am not even present or aware. One of a multitude of “i”s in me has chosen, decided with finality and certitude, a life-changing decision.

This “i” which has chosen has an agenda. All of the “i”s have their own agenda. And their only aim is to fulfill the desire of that agenda, at whatever cost to myself, my life, my relationships. Period. End of story. And because I am not a single, unified, solidified and consistent “I” then I am at the mercy of whichever “i” happens by pure chance to be present at the moment I am faced with choice.

Can I even begin to see what this means for myself? Can I even begin to understand the situation which this places me in as a human being? Seeing this is what Mister Gurdjieff calls, “the terror of the situation”. This is the situation of every single human being on Earth. How can the president of the United States say one thing, directly contradict it, spout what appear to be blatantly obvious lies, and appear to believe them himself, and then do another contradictory thing? Because, he is exactly as you and I – a multitude of “i”s, each with its own agenda, and he is ruled by these “i”s, exactly as you and I are.

And these “i”s are of three types:

1) one type knows very well that such a thing as the Work exists, and it is vehemently, even violently opposed to the aims of the Work; it resists self observation strongly because it understands in some way that to do so would expose its agendas, contradictions and beliefs for what they are;
2) a second type does not even know of the existence of the Work, what it is, or what its aims are; it has no memory at all of the Work, or of any aims other than its own; it is unconscious to everything but itself;
3) a third type knows of the existence of the Work, it is influenced by the Work, it agrees to practice the aims of the Work, and is willing to cooperate with those “i”s which feel otherwise.

The president of the United States operates almost exclusively with “i” number 2, and all the world’s leaders, those who control the destinies of nations, are doing likewise. A disciplined mind is the rarest thing on this Earth. It is one in a million. You watch the rich and famous and powerful (including all heads of state for all nations) on TV and what you see very quickly is this: these people are fools at best; worse, they are crazy; and at their worst, they are dangerously crazy and do real harm. Some of them kill millions. They destroy the Earth. They are us with the handcuffs of social control and peer pressure removed. They are corrupted by power.

This represents another meaning of “the terror of the situation”. But the true “terror of the situation” arises in me when I have observed myself honestly, without judgement or trying to change what is observed, for a very long time and I see that all wars are one war, all terrorists exist in one place only: the war is within me, the terrorists live in hiding in me – and they depend for their lives, their very existence, upon remaining hidden from my attention: when I begin to see them clearly, their cover is blown; seeing them is profound change (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle).

Nothing can remain the same in me once I have seen the fact of my “many i’s” and see how that works in me.

Now real suffering – voluntary suffering – begins in earnest within me: “voluntary” because no human being can make me observe myself, no one. There must develop within me what the Work calls “observing-I” which wishes to see. And as it is remembered and utilized by the inner being more, it begins to strengthen and fuse with the inner being; it becomes more and more active through the power of suffering – pain is the great motivator. More and more “i’s” join forces with this “observing-I”, they begin to coalesce and crystallize around it the way particles gather around a charge. And thus, through years of practice, forgetting for hours or days to observe, resisting meditating for fifteen or thirty minutes in the morning, only now and then remembering my Work, this “observing-I” grows stronger and more active.

Slowly, slowly its aim – to see myself as I am – becomes more active, begins to have real strength and force in me. The suffering produced by the practice actually builds and develops something in me which the Work calls conscience. We are all born with a tiny, microscopic “mustard seed” of conscience within us. But this mustard seed remains in embryo, undeveloped in the ordinary person. I may go to my grave ruled by various “i”s, even perhaps religious “i”s but such religious “i”s have no conscience, all they have is an inherited “belief system”, which cannot think, but only condemn and follow rigidly unproven dogma, borrowed ideas. Such people do not understand, they are often rigid, even very violent and war-like in pursuit of these borrowed unproven misunderstood dogma inherited from their fathers. They are often very judgemental and capable of great harm. They will act in the name of an imaginary, illusory, self-created god and do unspeakable things in the name of this god. History is filled with the acts of such beings.

But from “voluntary suffering”, the seed of real conscience may spring. And this is the result of very patient and slow and careful observation over many years. Once that mustard seed is activated, once real conscience is fed and begins to develop, only then will I learn what true voluntary suffering is. Because the “i”s which I love and identify with ( = I am that) will not go away. Just so long as I choose to believe in them and identify with them, they will have power over me. The mature practitioner simply does not give these “i”s the authority, to speak for me, to choose for me, to act for me. I give my power to aim instead. I choose to live from aim, not from the agenda of small “i”s. And I suffer because I see over and over and over just how easily I refuse to stop whoring and drinking (an example, not a fact) never mind the cost to myself, my relationships, or my life: I refuse. And because there is now in me a mustard seed of conscience – not belief systems borrowed from others, but something which is all my own because I have paid for it – now I suffer most intensely, now I suffer in a whole new way and on a whole new level. And this suffering feeds conscience. This is what the ordinary man can never understand.

Only desperate people, who have suffered “the terror of the situation” for years and years, would be driven to such lengths that they surrendered all that they had to the Creator, in return for this mustard seed, this “pearl of great price”. Do you understand? Do I dare to see how every moment I am making a decision to be ruled by small, selfish, unconscious “i”s and am a slave to their wishes? Do I dare to see how my life is being stolen from me for chump-change, for drinking and whoring (which means any and all of the small “i”s agendas)?

Can I see in myself the true “terror of my situation”? Try to observe in yourself the entire cycle of a single “i” – not only the acting out of its agenda, but the resulting judgement about that action, and the feelings about self which resulted as well; that is, the entire “cycle-of-the-i” not just one half, which is the action, but the other half too, which is the reaction and judgement and feeling about myself. Verify for yourself what is true about your inner state. Try to observe yourself without judgement or changing what is observed. When I am able to be aware of an “i” in me and what it is doing, greed and the “i” which is greedy, this is a moment of real self remembering and self observation.

The effort to change what is observed is the result of identification with what is observed, believing in it, giving it power, feeling “helpless” to do otherwise because “I am that”. Thus, one part of me, one small “i” in me judges another small “i” and says that this “i” must be stopped and “i” will stop it. The result? Civil war, a self divided, and the effort to change what is observed merely serves to further empower that which is observed and which “I” am making effort to change. Result? No change, habitual repetition of act – judgement of act – effort to change act – resulting guilt and condemnation when it does not change – further repression of act. It is a cycle. It repeats. It can be predicted, because it is habitual. All habits are “i”s.

Here is a good example. Yesterday I spent about three hours working out this chapter, writing and rewriting it. I felt that I had a reasonably good first draft. Here I was at home with this borrowed laptop making a few last minute changes when, with a single key stroke, I lost the whole chapter. I tried frantically to find and retrieve it. Nothing.

I sat there in a state, stunned disbelief and despair. Certain well-known “i”s arose in me very forcefully then. One was rage. But who or what to rage against? The laptop? Quickly it morphed to my default position: self-hatred, the blind spot. Then another “i” arose, one which urged me to abandon the whole book project. It went on for several minutes, until I remembered myself, found myself, and managed the body.

I made a conscious decision not to dramatize the event or speak of it right away with my wife. Instead, I shut down the laptop, went to the backyard where my wife was sitting, and joined her in a glass of wine. When she asked me how it went, I said it had been a good day and that I was satisfied. Later that evening at a friend’s house after dinner, I mentioned what had happened, got the appropriate sympathy, we laughed about it, and I let it go. The next day several “i”s with no trust, fear-based and self hating were eager to exploit the available energy. But I was willing to hold to my aim, so I sat down and began. The result is this chapter, better than the first draft by a lot. Perhaps not great, but better. So you see how it goes with me. Sometimes I eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats me. It goes on.

– Self-Observation by Red Hawk, chapter Multiple I’s

Knowledge vs. Shoulds

“You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?” “He picked up a piece of Truth,” said the devil. “That is a very bad business for you, then,” said his friend. “Oh, not at all,” the devil replied, “I am going to let him organize it.”

I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices.

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Nothing is more revealing than personal experience. One can read hundreds of books on personal development and spirituality, understand them intellectually and still find, despite all the teachings, that the personality is geared towards immature attitudes.

You see, you haven’t been acquainted with yourself. You think yourself to be only that part of you that wills and decides. But if you pay attention, if you learn to look at yourself like an objective thing in the world, you will learn that you actually hold beliefs that go against those that you hold in your mind.

So what is that part that pulls in the opposite direction, seemingly geared towards self-sabotage or towards distrust, fear, anxiety? Why does it seem to have a mind of its own?

The things we don’t know about ourselves are in our unconscious. From there, they manifest as feelings, disturbances, conflicts, fears that seem out of proportion to what we experience or completely out of place. What we usually do when we encounter them is explain them away as caused by an external stimulus. After all, the mind likes to make assumptions about what it sees, that is precisely the way optical illusions work.

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But if you sit with the emotions, if you observe yourself and draw out the underlying belief, you will get in contact with a part of you that has been suppressed for a long time and because of this suppression, it did not get a chance to mature. So in one part of the personality you are an adult, a mature individual, capable of great insight, and in this other part, you are still a child, because you had disowned a part of yourself early on.

Now, as long as you don’t link knowledge with experience, as long as you don’t bring this truth into your emotions, into that immature part of your being, not by force, but by self-observation, truth can become disembodied knowledge. It can become a rule, a should, a rigid demand, disconnected from the being, as though it were an authority figure giving out orders.

I mean, nobody likes preachers, right?

And just like you can shift responsibility on authority figures, so you can shift responsibility onto ideas, instead of following the truth within. And what value does your act have if it doesn’t come from within?

If there’s a part of you that is still inclined to do something despite the knowledge you have, then do you really know? Do you really understand? In that sense, I think there is value in negative experience, in choosing what you want to do. Then you will learn by experience how that knowledge applies, even if it means suffering.

Now, I do not meant to advice doing something despite knowing it to be wrong. If you know it to be wrong, I think all effort should be geared towards understanding why it is wrong and where that inclination originates from within you. But if you are not convinced that something is right or wrong, then I think there is value in that experience for you.

I think that’s why they say “don’t take my word for it, see for yourself”. I always thought that they say that in a way that means… “hey, you can verify it if you like, but I’m telling you, it’s true.” When in fact they mean “you must understand this for yourself, experientially – in your emotions, otherwise it has no value, it just becomes yet another idea onto which you shift responsibility.” That’s why you need to see how it applies to you! You must let your actions stem from within, from your own perspective, not from the perspective of your shoulds, as good as they sound.

If you are unconvinced, experience will reveal it to you. There is a world of difference between finding things in yourself intellectually vs. experientially.

On Blame

In a conflict both parties are responsible for the interaction. It is almost never the case that only one party is entirely responsible. Blame is a way to try to place your own negativity onto the other person as well, so that they are responsible for your own failings too.

The way I think about it is the following: say a thief has a particular style, that he leaves messages on the walls of the houses he steals from: “XYZ was here” or something like that. Then, another thief, picking up on this, will use the same style to pin it on the first thief so that when the thief gets caught, he will be punished for the crimes of the second thief as well. In the same way, blame uses the other person’s negativity as an excuse to make them responsible for our own negativity too.

It is a very subtle exchange but very powerful and with many consequences. One of those consequences is that we feel victimized by the other and feel quite depended on them and afraid of them, because unconsciously we have made ourselves helpless in the face of their negativity. It is one side of the coin creating the other. The victim creating the persecutor. The moment we accept our own negativity, we take our power back and both roles dissolve.

“There are particular phases in human development where an entity finds it almost impossible to come out of his or her negative defense system, and of the conviction that this defense is necessary, unless one of those people with whom the person is entangled lets them off the hook by admitting his or her own negative intentionality, destructive attitude, dishonesty, and meanness.  Just imagine how you would feel when someone close to you, who has given you pain by pointing out your real and your false guilts, but who has also confused you by the denial of his or her guilt, suddenly said to you:  “I realize that I do not want to give you love.  I want to demand from you and then blame you, accuse you, and punish you when you do not comply with my demands.  But I do not allow you to feel hurt, because although I want to hurt you, I do not want to be made to feel guilty by your hurt.”  Just imagine how this would set you free!  How such an admission can suddenly clear up many confusions!  It is not very likely that you would respond to this act of love by being self-righteous and acting the all-innocent one who has always known this and is now established as the innocent victim.

If you admit your similar unfair demands, your cowardice in giving your feelings, and your negative intentionality, it may indeed be hurtful for your pride, but truly for nothing else!  The other who hears it has, in that moment, received a gift of love from you, even though you may still not want to love with your heart, with your feelings, with your inner being.  But you have begun to love by being truthful.

By setting others free from the false guilt you have placed on them in order to conceal your own, you allow them to look at their own real guilt without self-devastation and without this painful inner struggle in which the mutual guilts and accusations are all confused.  Release and clarification often lead to the solution of the deepest problems.  It is as though the personality needed this “outer” grace, this helping hand.  For the dishonest placing of guilt on others makes their true self-revelation almost impossible; it implies that if they admit guilt you are right in accusing them of being bad and of being the cause of your misery.  This is how people are hooked together in denial, guilt-projection, either/or struggle, confusion, and negative interactions.  Someone must begin to loosen the hook-up and disentangle the knots.”

– Eva Pierrakos, Pathwork Lecture #202: Psychic Interaction of Negativity

The Link Between Freedom and Self-Responsibility

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“When you cannot let go of your self-will [stubbornness to have things your way], which may not necessarily mean that you want something bad or harmful, or when you cannot accept the imperfection of this world, which means that you cannot have life and people be according to your very own way, even though yours may be the right way, it seems to you that you have fallen into an abyss. You may never have translated these feelings into such terms. But, if you analyze your feelings, you will see that this is so. There is a strong fear in you that whatever happens contrary to your will means danger. Needless to say, this does not apply to every situation, to your entire personality, or to every area of your life.

By working in this direction and examining your emotional reactions to certain incidents, you will become aware of the abyss of illusion in you. I ask you not to take my word for it. Experience the truth of it!

This abyss varies in depth and in width. Only by becoming aware of its existence and gradually discovering its unreality will this form dissolve, little by little. This can happen only if, at one time or another, you give yourself up to it. In other words, what seems so hard to yield to, what seems like a personal threat, is really no threat at all. If someone else does not accept you, or acts contrary to your expectation, this in itself is not a threat. Neither is it a disaster if you have to accept your own inadequacy. Yet you cannot find out that this is so unless you go right through the experience. Only after accepting your own or the other’s inadequacy in the areas where heretofore you could hardly do so, only after giving up your own will where you hung onto it as though your life were at stake, will you be able to truly convince yourself that nothing adverse happens to you. As long as this abyss exists in your soul, it seems to you that you are gravely endangered if you yield or let go. You seem to fall down into the abyss. The abyss can only disappear if you let yourself drop into it. Then and then only will you learn that you do not crash and perish, but that you float beautifully. You will then see that what made you tense with fear and anxiety was as illusory as this abyss.

I hope I will not be misunderstood. I do not refer to giving up something needlessly, or merely because it is something that makes you happy. I do not even refer to giving up something you have or possess. Nor do I speak of realistic fears that you can face constructively. I refer only to the subtle little fears in your soul, to the frustration and anxiety you cannot quite understand and for which you often find such poor rationalizations. When a person near you does not agree with you or has certain faults, you may feel all tense and full of anxiety. If you analyze these feelings, you will discover that it amounts to feeling endangered because your world of Utopia is proven unreal. This is the phantom fear which makes you believe your life is at stake. Otherwise you would not be so fearful. This is the abyss into which you should plunge so as to find yourself floating instead of perishing.

Last time I discussed the function of Utopia in the human personality. I said that the infant in you desires everything the way it wants it, how it wants it, and when it wants it. But it goes further than that. This desire includes wanting complete freedom without responsibility. You may not be aware that you desire just this. But I am sure that by investigating some of your reactions and asking yourself what they truly mean, when you come to the root, you will undoubtedly find that this childish part of your being desires just that. You want to have a benign authority above you who steers your life in all ways as you desire. You wish complete freedom in every way; you want to make independent decisions and choices. If these prove good, it is to your credit. However, you do not wish to be responsible for anything bad that happens. Then you refuse to see the connection between such a happening and your own actions and attitudes. You are so successful in covering up these connections that, after a time, it takes a great deal of effort indeed to bring the connection out into the open. This is so because you wish to make this authority responsible for the negative things only.

Many of my friends who are well advanced on this path will readily confirm that this part exists in them. In the final analysis this unconscious thought or attitude amounts to just that: you wish freedom without self-responsibility. Thus you wish for a pampering, indulgent god, like a parent who spoils his child. If this god cannot be found — and of course he cannot — he becomes a monster in your eyes and you turn away from God altogether.

The expectations you have of this god you also project onto human beings, either to a specific person or a group of human beings, or onto a philosophy, creed, or teacher. It does not matter who or what. At any rate, your understanding the unconscious God-image[1] will not be complete unless you include this very basic element in it.

It is of great importance that you find in yourself the part where you desire freedom without self-responsibility. With the method of our work, it should not be too difficult to find the many areas where you desire just that. This desire can be extreme, although it is often hidden and can only be approached in an indirect way. I cannot show you now how it should be done because the approach varies with each individual. I shall be glad, however, to point out the way to each of you if you so desire. There cannot be a single exception. You all have just this hope and desire at least in some way: freedom without self-responsibility to the full extent. You may wish to assume self-responsibility in some areas of your life, often in superficial and outer actions. But in the last and deepest and most important attitude toward life as a whole you still refuse self-responsibility, yet you desire utter freedom.

If you think this through thoroughly, you will surely see that this is an impossibility. It is Utopia! You cannot be free and at the same time have no responsibility. To the extent you shift responsibility from yourself onto others you curtail your own freedom. You put yourself in slavery. It is as simple as that.

You will observe the same law at work even in the animal world. A pet has no freedom but it is not responsible for obtaining its own food and shelter. A wild animal is free, or freer, but it is responsible to look out for itself. This must apply much more to humanity. Wherever you look, you will see that it cannot be otherwise: the more freedom, the more responsibility. If you do not desire responsibility according to the degree of your capacity, you have to forfeit freedom. In a superficial way this applies to practically everything from your choice of profession to your choice of government. But the area where humanity has overlooked the basic truth, that freedom cannot exist without self-responsibility, is not outside but within the human soul, and in the human attitude toward life as such.

The infant in you does not see and does not want to see that connection. It wants one without the other, and what it wants does not exist; it is illusion or Utopia. The price for illusion is extremely high. The more you want to evade paying the natural and fair price — in this case self-responsibility for freedom — the heavier the toll becomes. This, too, is unalterable law. The more you understand about the human soul, the more clearly you will observe this. All diseases of the soul are based on just that: on evasion of the payment of the rightful price. There is a strong desire and insistence on having both ways, the easy way.

Ultimately, the price you pay for the evasion is so heavy, so steep, my friends. You are not aware of it yet, but you will be if you follow this particular road. A part of the price is the constant effort you waste in trying to force life into the mold of your illusion in this respect. If you could but see all the inner, emotional effort, you would shudder, because all this strength could be used quite differently. To let go of the illusion and to assume full self-responsibility seems so hard to you that fear of it becomes a good part of the abyss. You seem to think that you will fall right in if you really assume self-responsibility. Therefore, you constantly strain away from it, stemming against it, and this consumes strength.

You can see now that giving up the world of Utopia appears to you as the abyss. Giving up Utopia seems to you the greatest danger and you stem against it with all the might of your spiritual muscles. You lean away from the abyss, losing valuable strength for nothing. To give up your Utopia seems dire misery. The world becomes bleak and hopeless with no chance for happiness, because your concept of happiness in one part of your unconscious mind means utter perfection in all ways. But all this is not true. To give up Utopia does not make for a bleak world. You need not despair over letting go of a desire and venturing into what often seems fearsome to you. The only way you can discover the illusion of this fear, this abyss and its phantom quality, is first to visualize, feel, and experience its existence in you in the various manifestations and reactions of your daily life, and then to jump into it. Otherwise it cannot dissolve.

There is a very important general misconception about life. It constitutes the main result of the unreasonable desire for freedom without self-responsibility. It is the idea that you can come to harm through the arbitrariness of the god-of-your-image, of life, or fate, or through the cruelty, the ignorance, and the selfishness of others. This fear is as illusory as the abyss. This fear can exist only because you deny your self-responsibility. Therefore, others must be responsible. If you did not cling tenaciously to the Utopia of having freedom and refusing self-responsibility, you could easily perceive that you are indeed independent. You are the master of your life and fate; you — and no one else — create your own happiness and unhappiness. Observation of the manifold connections and chain reactions would automatically eliminate your fear of others, of becoming a victim. You could link up all unfavorable incidents with your own wrong attitudes, no matter how wrong the other people may be. But their wrongness cannot affect you. This would become clear to you and you would then lose your fear of being helpless. You are helpless because you make yourself that way by trying to shift responsibility away from yourself. So you see that fear is the heavy price you must pay for insisting on your Utopia.

In truth, you cannot possibly come to harm by any shortcomings or wrong actions of another person, no matter how much it may seem that way at first glance. Those who judge only on the surface will not find either truth or reality. Many of you are capable of judging profoundly in some ways, going to the roots of things. In other ways, however, you are conditioned to judge on the surface. In this particular respect many of you refuse to let go of judging on the surface because you still hope that the world of Utopia can actually exist. Therefore, you have to fear other people, their judgement, their wrongdoings. In this part of your being, you like to consider yourself a victim for the very reason I stated previously. This trend in itself is a sign of refusal to accept self-responsibility.

If you are truly willing and prepared to accept full self-responsibility, the vision of truth will prove to you that harm cannot come to you through others. I can foresee many questions coming up in this connection. But let me assure you my friends, that even a mass disaster, of which there have been many in the history of humanity, will miraculously spare some and not others. This cannot be explained away either by coincidence or by the act of a monstrous god-of-your-image who arbitrarily favors a few and punishes some less fortunate creatures. The other imagined god who rewards you for being a good child and spares you a difficult fate, while another person has to be tested and go through hardships is also a distortion, no less monstrous than the first.

God is in you, and that godlike part of the divine in you regulates things in such a wonderful way that all your wrong attitudes will come to the fore, more strongly at some times, less strongly at other times of your life. The apparent faults and misdeeds of others will affect your own wrong attitudes and inner errors. You cannot be affected by any wrongdoing or action of other people if you do not have within yourself something that responds to it, as one note resonates to another.

Again, you certainly should not take my word for it. All who are on the path are bound to find out the truth if they really want to. Investigate sincerely the everyday occurrences, irritations, and annoyances in your life. Find out what in yourself responds, or corresponds either to a similar characteristic — although perhaps on a quite different plane — or to the exactly opposite extreme of the person who has provoked you. If you truly find the corresponding note in yourself, you will automatically cease to feel victimized. Although a part of you enjoys just that, it is a doubtful joy. It weakens you and is bound to make you fearful. It enchains you utterly. By seeing the connection between your inner wrong currents and attitudes and the outer unwelcome occurrence, you will come face to face with your inadequacy, but this encounter, instead of weakening you will make you strong and free. You are so conditioned to the habit of going through life concentrating on the apparent wrong of the other person that you feel victimized by it. You put blame on everybody left and right and never find the corresponding note in yourself. This explains how you could be adversely affected. Even those of my friends who have learned to investigate themselves with some degree of honesty often fail to do so in the most apparent everyday incidents. It takes training to condition yourself to follow this road all the way. When you discover your own contribution, no matter how subtle, as you go through an unwelcome experience, you will cease being afraid of the world.

If your fear of life and the inadequacy of others is not to some degree eliminated after such findings, you have not even scratched the surface. You may have found some contributing factor, but if it did not have the desired effect on you, you are still dealing with subterfuges. What you find must increase the knowledge in you that you cannot be truly affected by others, and that you are the master of your life. Therefore you need have no fear. In other words, your findings must make you see the truth and the importance of self-responsibility. In addition, self-responsibility will cease to be something to shy away from.”

– Eva Pierrakos, Pathwork Lecture #60: The Abyss of Illusion – Freedom and Self-Responsibility