Lecture 111 – Soul Substance and Coping with Demands | Abbreviated Version

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P1             Within this soul stuff lie all the potentials—the talents, qualities, tendencies, characteristics, and also the unresolved problems. Therefore, when the child collects impressions during its early years, their impact will be greater or smaller according to the underlying potentials. However, where the underlying potential consists largely of unresolved problems, the soul stuff is so lacking in resiliency that the impressions form deep dents and remain imbedded in the soul-substance.

When you have retained an impression in unresilient soul-stuff, your entire psychic mechanism functions according to this impression, exaggerating it way beyond its reality-value. Let us speak of flexibility versus rigidity. Flexibility is the quality of resilient, elastic, healthy soul-substance. When the soul is constantly exposed to deep impressions that cannot be assimilated and therefore form dents, so that the imprints remain imbedded in the soul-substance, the effect on the personality is heavy. Therefore the soul suffers more from an impression than it needs to and even favorable impressions cause exhaustion.

You may all have experienced that you become overly excited when something good happens; it has a disrupting effect. That you are joyful and gratified about the event as such does not change the fact that an unnecessary amount of energy is being wasted. This creates a kind of restlessness, a holding on to the experience, and that blocks the soul’s movement. But, mainly, a much more subtle procedure is set in motion, an automatic reaction that is not commensurate with the outer occurrence. A onetime experience is falsely applied to an event of an entirely different nature.

In short, something that frightened you once will cause you to be frightened again by an outer event that is really quite dissimilar to the first. The false remedy, in this case, is an artificial, protective wall, set up to prevent constant heavy impacts causing hurtful dents on the soul-substance, which are experienced as “oversensitivity.” The wall is hard and brittle; it prevents feeling and experiencing and causes the first type of rigidity. The second type of rigidity is caused by a condition of the soul that is incapable of assimilating the experience and holds on to it instead.

When the indentation in the soul is so deep that one cannot let go of it, the preoccupation with the experience excludes important aspects of reality. One sees and evaluates only that part of reality which appears to bother or disturb; other aspects important for understanding the occurrence in its full light are absent. One can deal only with what one immediately sees and perceives according to the highly sensitized area of the too vulnerable soul-substance. Every other aspect in the situation, or in the other person involved, is overshadowed. If you suffer physical pain in a certain area of your body, you are bound to focus all your attention on the area, disregarding others. It is the same with the soul process.

P3             To briefly summarize the difference between the two kinds of rigidity: one dulls your capacity of feeling and experiencing; the other colors your views and experience to such a degree that your perception of reality is narrowly limited. Often, people have both kinds of rigidities, alternately and simultaneously, one caused by the other and overlapping. Sometimes one is predominant. In order to flow with life, your soul-stuff has to have the healthy elasticity to quickly assimilate incidents according to their real significance. But upon closer inspection you will find that this very softness, devoid of healthy resistance, cannot let go of impressions received. You mull them over and over and are persistently influenced by what should already be obsolete. You thus distort the relationship between the event and your reaction to it.

P4             You have excessive demands, on the one hand, in that you expect more from others than you are willing to give, no matter how much you may cover up this fact. On the other hand, you may be too modest in your expectation. This is a logical consequence that occurs automatically.

P5             When your soul-substance is too impressionable, when you unduly retain impressions—in this case, the currents of others’ demands on you—when you cannot healthily assimilate, evaluate, and come to terms with the effect that others have on you, then their demands have an overpowering impact. Either you will interpret something as a demand that is no such thing, and an inner defense against it will be triggered off, or you may give in to the most immature, unjustified demands from others to avoid feeling guilty or fearing unwelcome consequences. In both cases the result is resentment, defiance, and hostility.

Yet an inner alarm seems to ring whenever an actual or imaginary demand is being made on you. Your guilt and fear do not permit you to become aware and investigate what has set off the alarm. Instead of investigating it with your reasoning faculties, you blindly reject rational inquiry. The rejection is not so much a reaction against the demands themselves as against the temptation and compulsion to give in to them. Your inability to discriminate is what makes you insecure.

Now, my friends, it is important to become aware that demands are all around you. The more you are involved, the more demands multiply. When you calmly consider them, you will see that in some instances the demands of others are excessive and childish. On other occasions, the demands are simply a part of human communication, and your fright and refusal to engage are unjustified.

P6             Of equal importance is to find where your own hidden demands exist. When you find these, and transform the unreasonable greed of your childish expectations, you will become perfectly capable of coping very satisfactorily with other people’s demands on you, thus maintaining good, deep relationships.

The soul is the sum total of the inner personality: the thinking, the feeling, the concepts, the potentials, the attitudes, the patterns, the characteristics, the temperament, the emotions, the idiosyncrasies—everything that is behind the physical being. It also includes, of course, unresolved problems.

P7             The soul is the unconscious mind. The unconscious motivations, attitudes, driving forces, and inclinations are from the soul and the deeper regions of the unconscious self belong to the real spiritual being and the real spiritual being is at home in the deeper regions of the unconscious self. However, the unconscious is only a part of the soul, much of it is conscious. With increasing spiritual development, inner health, and oneness, cause and effect come closer together.

As long as they are separated in time, an inner division of the soul must exist. If people are still so crude in their spirituality that they have no conscience, nothing will interfere with the bad motives, which will, therefore, be unified. Because there is no split, the bad motives will have an apparently favorable effect. Only later, when the conscience has grown, will the retroactive guilt have an effect and manifest as though it were punishment from the outside.

P8             There is a difference between feelings and emotions. One way of describing the difference would be that a feeling is deeper-rooted and more permanent. Reactions and responses that are based on superimposed modes of coping with life, not originating from the real person, are emotions. The real self sends forth feelings. Hence, a feeling is something much more substantial. An emotion is based on a subjective inner condition. 

P9             Gratified vanity, greed, or pride may produce a pleasant emotion. Or, to go a step further, a situation, even if truly perceived, but utilized subjectively, produces an emotion and not a feeling. Feelings are based on objectivity, emotions on subjectivity. In both instances, they may be pleasant or unpleasant.

—The Pathwork® Guide

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