P1 Only when you live in the now do you live in reality. You cannot live in reality when you strain into the future, because such a future may never come to pass in exactly the way you hope, imagine, or fear it. But let us suppose, theoretically, that it were possible to imagine the future exactly as it will be—which, of course, can never be the case. Even then, you would still be living in illusion, because the outcome does not happen at the moment you think of it.
Therefore you do not experience the future in reality, but only in fantasy. Likewise, if you pull backward, into the past, even if you try to relive it exactly the way it was – – if this were possible, which again it is not—you would still be living an illusion, because that moment of your recollection is a new segment of time. Your own subjective colorings, stemming from your desires and fears, distort reality, blind you to factors that existed or will exist, including changes in your own state of mind and feelings.
P2 If you could trust the flux of time, the benign quality of its movement and the growth it can foster, you could allow yourself to bring your inner faculties in harmony with it. You would then not need to manipulate time by holding it back or pushing it forward. You would not need to fear, or wish for fulfillment in the future. You do not trust yourself to live the now when the future comes. This distrust is often partly justified, because your destructive, unrealistic concepts and attitudes prevent fulfillment in the now.
I would like to describe a few symptoms by which you may begin to detect the lack of living in the now and therefore feeling real. The crassest symptom is not feeling that your own death is a reality. For if you do not feel your mortality as real, you cannot possibly feel your aliveness as real. There are, of course, many other less extreme symptoms that indicate your lack of selfidentification. For instance, in a fleeting moment you may discover that how your thoughts, feelings, or words in a conversation appear is more important than what they actually are.
P3 Even the most vital feelings, thoughts, and inner experiences are often shifted this way, to obtain an effect, an impression on others. Or you may discover, in a fleeting and vague way, that your attitude about your actions, thoughts, and feelings is governed by the idea of, “If only others could see me act, think, and feel this way.” In such a moment of discovery, you will detect that you shift your sense of identity from yourself to others. Therefore your sense of your own reality becomes dependent on others. You live through others.
Rather than immediately trying to correct what you observe, greet it as a symptom that will lead you, like a well-marked road, into deeper understanding and awareness of yourself. They (children) cannot discriminate between reason, common sense, logic, and their opposites. They depend on being supplied with the ideas and principles that serve as guideposts to growing up. To deny children such guideposts would not promote independence. If you do not give children love, they do not become better able to love. Just the opposite is true.
P4 The bond of dependency on parental authority is cut. The healthy spirit will cut this bond, even if the parents do not encourage such severance, but possessively try to hold it intact. Yet the spirit, or soul, that is burdened with unresolved problems will not desire to cut this bond, but instead will do its best to maintain it, often in precarious, hidden, and distorted ways. Beneath the inner and unconscious refusal to cut ties with protective authority lies identification with such authority. It is also necessary to look for negative identities.
In other words, a parent whom one hates and certainly does not want to emulate, can, on an unconscious level, also be identified with. For the child, positive identification is desirable. For an adult, a positive identification is often as undesirable as a negative one because both prevent the evolution of the self. You unconsciously substitute others for your parents, who were the original objects of identification.
Often such substitution not only occurs among individuals, but also among national, religious, and political groups. Conformity is a consequence of the need to identify with someone more powerful. Conforming can occur under the guise of nonconformity, especially if such individualism is very strained and too great a point is made of it.
P5 No matter how good the cause itself may be, if it serves as a substitute for self-identification, there is harm. The harm is not in your embracing this worthy cause, believing in it and working for it—all this could very well be done with inner freedom – but in your need to substitute something other than yourself to lean on because you have not found where within yourself you are still as weak as a child. The extreme form of identification with others because of a weak ego is conformity to public opinion, parroting the views of others.
Whenever you find an emotional dependency on others, you can be sure that you have, in some respect, failed to establish your selfhood. Do not overlook your rebellion against the need of being accepted or agreed with. When the emotional and spiritual umbilical cord has not been cut, the self cannot possibly grow. It can grow to only a very limited degree, as the baby in the mother’s womb can grow to only
P6 When the inner umbilical cord is not cut, you are, in the truest sense, dependent on others for your right to exist. Wherever such lack of selfhood, such dependency on others exists, you are bound to find that you try to use others. Since you condemn yourself to living a parasitic life, you cannot help using those on whom you depend. The more you use those whom you need, the weaker you become; and, therefore, the more do you believe that you need others to strengthen you.
Over the centuries, humanity has sensed to a tiny degree certain laws of the rhythmic movement of time, for example in astrology. But everyone knows and often even expresses this sense in terms of having good or bad times. When these times yield victory and understanding, you will no longer experience the rhythmic downward curve as depressing, upsetting, or disadvantageous. For only when you have tapped your inner wealth will you stop straining away from the now and cease to be estranged from yourself. You will not derive this sustenance from other sources. As long as you remain dependent on a foreign life source, you have to resort to all sorts of tactics that weaken your real self even more.
P7 Do not apply my words only to the extreme outer manifestation of using others; try to see it in its more subtle version in which you have to use others since your life seems to depend on them. You conclude therefore that you need to be in control. So many of my friends have begun to see in themselves this strong tendency to need control. Now each one of you has to find how this applies to you; what your particular means are; how you fear losing control; how you destroy relationships through a mutual battle for control, each one acting as though it were a fight for survival; how you distort issues in this unrealistic fight for survival; how you spoil the growth of mutuality and fulfillment.
The need for control causes you to manipulate others, yourself, and your vital natural feelings. Wherever you find a stringent need to be in control—of others, of a situation, of a relationship—you have a direct clue to your nonidentification with yourself. you will certainly come to the nucleus of your deliberate self-denial, which causes so much unnecessary hardship. You will then be able to go about bringing your real self out. This will be easier than finding the negative conditions has been. But first, you have to be fully aware of your parasitic clinging to others, of identifying with others and depending on them in one way or another.
—The Pathwork® Guide