P1 Evil is, or results from, numbness and a confusion about the execution of control. Children who feel hurt, rejected, and helplessly exposed to pain and deprivation often find that numbing their feelings is their only protection against suffering. This is often a useful and quite realistic protective device. Likewise, when children are confused because they perceive contradiction and conflict around them, equally contradictory emotions arise in their own psyche.
Numbness is also a protection against their own contradictory responses, impulses, and reactions. Under such circumstances, it might even be a salvation. But when such numbness has become second nature and is maintained long after the painful circumstances have changed and when the person is no longer a helpless child, this, in the smallest measure, is the beginning of evil; this is how evil is born. Numbness and insensitivity toward one’s own pain in turn means equal numbness and insensitivity toward others.
When examining one’s reactions closely, one might often observe that the first spontaneous reaction to others is a feeling for and with them, a compassion or empathy, a participation of the soul. But the second reaction restricts this emotional flow. Something clicks inside and seems to say no, which means that a protective layer of unfeelingness has formed. In that moment one stands separate—apparently safe but separate. Later this separateness may be overcompensated by false sentimentality, dramatization, and insincere exaggerated sympathy. But these are only substitutes for the numbness.
P2 We might differentiate between three stages of numbness. First, numbness toward the self, a protective mechanism. Second is the numbness toward others. In this stage, it is a passive attitude of indifference that enables one to watch others suffer without feeling discomfort oneself. Much of the world’s evil is caused by this state of soul. Because it is less crass, in the long run it is more harmful, for active cruelty induces quicker counter-reactions.
If people understand these processes not only intellectually but within themselves, they are adequately equipped to cope with the world’s cruelty, which so often gives rise to despair, doubt, and confusion. The act of inflicting pain on others simultaneously kills off one’s own ability to feel. Hence, it is a stronger device to attain numbness. You must always distinguish between the active deeds of either indifference or cruelty, and emotional tendencies.
The indifference or numbness may not be actively executed; it is possible to experience this non-participation and numbness but not act upon it. The desire to hurt others may exist merely as an emotion, without ever being acted upon. Admitting, acknowledging, facing an emotion, no matter how undesirable, can never harm the self or others and is eventually bound to dissolve the negative feeling. Confusing the impulse with the deed and therefore denying both, results in extreme disturbance for the self, indirectly affecting others, with no hope of change as long as the process remains unconscious.
P3 At one time this numbness seemed like the only available protection; later it was unwittingly maintained. The second facet of evil relates to control. We have discussed the importance of relinquishing too tight a control and the failure to use those controls and powers you have at your disposal for attaining a full, rich life. The imbalance this failure creates induces rigidity where flexibility should exist, as well as a helpless loss of self where resilient firmness should prevail.
All suffering is related to helplessness. The greater the helplessness, the less the person is able to avoid pain. You have direct control over certain of your bodily functions. To summarize, all voluntary body functions are under the direct control of your outer ego. But there is a vast area of your body the outer will cannot directly reach.
P4 The same applies to psychic processes. You have indisputable control over a vast area of your actions, over the words you speak, over your choice of thoughts. You seem to have no control over your spontaneous feeling reactions. This, too, can be quite frightening. Unfathomable fate seems to control your inner body, your spontaneous reactions, and a number of outer circumstances. But is it true that you must be separated from your inner faculties? Do you really have no control over them? Or can a connection be established between your consciousness and your inner body, your spontaneous feelings and your life?
The same relationship exists in life as between body and feelings. You have direct control over certain happenings. Your outer, direct will can determine certain actions which you know are bound to produce certain effects. If you do this, it must have that effect. But then, as with the body and the world of your feelings, there is an area where this immediate, direct control ceases. The spirit knows that human destiny is to find the true nature of this power, and to extend this power over fate.
You strive toward this end, but in the wrong way. You often attempt it by tensing your outer will and trying to assert it over regions where it has no jurisdiction. Those of you, my friends, who have grown through years of effort in this Pathwork have occasionally noticed that where you were once helpless, you are no longer helpless at all. You not only discover power, strength, resourcefulness, and adequacy—qualities you never dreamed you possessed—but you also begin to see that a remote control seems to be at work, governing your fate and your outer life circumstances. You realize that your control expands.
P5 It happens instead by an indirect process of remote control, which eventually becomes direct. To be more specific: your ego faculties have to be used, but not in the way this is usually attempted. They can and must be used to diminish the strength of outer will. You will see, at first, remote control working where there had been absolutely no intervention, connection, or control. And eventually remote control will turn into more direct control.
Now, how can the inner self be activated? It cannot be activated by itself, for it responds only to consciousness. Your outer, as well as inner consciousness has the power to direct this inner being, with all its marvelous resourcefulness, with its intelligence and power. What is vastly overlooked is that the limitations of the outer ego faculties exist only as long as you fail to understand that these same ego faculties must be used to directly contact the inner self, which then controls all inner faculties—including body, feelings, and apparent fate.
P6 Although this numbness during childhood was a protective shield against cruelty from the outside, it does not prevent the negative emotions in the inner makeup, such as rage, fear, anger, from arising. These emotions cannot be numbed. They can only be hidden. This, then, increases guilt.
P7 “My outer-directed will cannot reach those areas where I have numbed my perception, experience, feeling, and sensitivity. Therefore, I wish to contact my inner being of higher intelligence and greater power than my outer mind, to take the necessary steps to defrost these faculties: to bring them to life, so that I will become a fully functioning human being. Wherever there is fear and misconception, I wish to understand them so that I may eliminate what stands in the way. It is the useless prohibitions I do not yet quite know that cause me to be only partly alive. I want to be fully alive. To bring this about, I contact the inner self to help eliminate obstructions, bring to my consciousness what I need to know, so that I will reawaken and live in the state of fulfillment, selfhood, and beauty.” You do not need to repeat these words exactly; use your own words, your individual way of verbalizing and expressing the essence of these thoughts. This would be the approach, my friends.
—The Pathwork® Guide