P1 The only way the consciousness can be expanded is by experiencing life to its fullest and from all its facets. Usually, humans think of outer experience. The real meaning is the inner experience. Inner experience is possible only when you can feel. That which is feared must be accepted, experienced as it is at this moment.
You must go through your fear of unpleasurable, painful feelings. It is the fight against what you fear that creates your real suffering. No matter what is inflicted upon you from the outside when you are helpless and defenseless, it cannot become a detriment in your life, it cannot cripple you when you learn to receive it in the right and healthy way.
P2 Even exaggerated fear of an outer occurrence would not be so harmful, except that such an unrealistic phobia must be an expression of unrecognized and unexperienced feelings. When you are afraid of pain, loneliness, or of a hurt to your pride or a rejection, or frustration of your will or desires, your primary feeling is fear. When you blindly avoid your fear of pain until you no longer know that you fear a specific pain and are not aware why you feel numbed and deadened, you create a magnetic energy block within your psychic system, which is a powerful force that inevitably draws to you the very experience you wanted to avoid.
The pain you avoid must come to you from outside, again and again, until you can no longer avoid it. This is a law of life. If you come into this life with such a fear, your life circumstances will bring forth the very condition that you avoided previously. When life circumstances in your early childhood again inflict pain and deprivation upon you, and you again protect yourself by denying the pain rather than experiencing it to its fullest, later life circumstances will replicate those early conditions until you open up to what you fear and let the experience be in you, so that it can dissolve. When you fully savor the painful experience, then you are truly overcoming it. You can fulfill your potential for creativity and expansion of your spiritual being only when you are fearless and relaxed.
P3 In protecting yourself against your fear of pain, you put yourself in a state of tension. Pleasure and creativity can thrive only in a state of relaxation. The first task on your path is to explore yourself deeply, so that you become conscious of your defenses. Your early pains in this life are essentially those you have suffered in previous lives. Once your residual reservoir is emptied the flow of your being will deal with new pains in a very different way.
First of all, you will remain open and vulnerable, experiencing the pain softly, gently, without inner fight, and fully knowing why you are in pain. The duality that characterizes human consciousness results primarily from fear that is not fully lived through and therefore dissolved. By saying, in effect, “This I must not experience,” you create a duality. Your fear creates both a Yes current and a No current. When strong inner denial exists, rage and violence follow. Rage dissolves when the fear of pain is given up and the pain fully experienced.
P4 When fear of your feelings induces you to block off your capacity to feel, the impoverishment creates the need for a substitution. In order not to feel your deadness, and to have a sense of existing, you use your outer mind much more than is natural. Let us take sadness. When something in you says, “I must not be sad, I should not be sad,” you rebel against a feeling that exists in you.
This rebellious attitude soon creates the misconception in you that being sad is catastrophic and that, if this catastrophe befalls you, you must perish. Any straight, clean feeling can easily be borne, no matter what it is and why it exists. What is unbearably painful, frightening, and hopeless is the inner struggle that the misconception creates.
This is the real meaning of the scriptural saying, “According to thy belief it shall be done unto thee.” You build mental concepts that sustain the belief that sadness is unbearable and even dangerous, and thus you justify your refusal to feel sad. You may do this by building cases against people who make you sad. Thus you build illusions. And it always seems most difficult to abandon one’s cherished illusions. Displaced and denied sadness becomes self-pity, hopelessness, depression.
P5 Another part of the vicious circle is the denied anger and rage for being made sad by life and by others. If it (anger) is cleanly experienced when someone perhaps damages or hurts you, it will resolve itself. Other people’s denial of their inner truth inflicts pain on you just as much as you inflict pain on others by not allowing yourself to experience what is. This pain can be inflicted by omission and by commission. Your initial reaction to pain with anger is totally normal and healthy.
If you can understand that such a reaction does not require you to act destructively against others, you will accept the anger without judging or justifying yourself or others. If you let yourself feel it and follow it through to the pain, it will dissolve, it will liberate you. If you deny it, it will turn into cruelty and hostility, which in turn, as you well know, need to be covered up to conform with society’s standards. Let us now see what happens when the original feelings of despair and loneliness are denied, when the inner person says, “I should not have to feel this ever; I should be spared this experience of despair.”
By this denial you turn your feeling of despair into bitterness, isolation, faithlessness—the apprehension that there is no way out for you. When I speak of the clean experience of momentary despair, I do not mean the subtly forced hopelessness that results from a forcing current. The forcing current is a manipulative process that expresses into life and toward everybody whom one substitutes for those who caused the original hurt in childhood: “You must now give me all I ask for, and you must protect me from all unpleasurable feelings. My hopelessness will convince you that this is what you must do for me.”
P6 Let us now take the feeling of fear. When you deny it, it becomes vague anxiety that is infinitely more disturbing because you have nothing to focus on. By facing the fear directly, you proceed into other feelings, such as pain, despair, anger, and so on. Anxiety is displaced fear and, as such, offers no way out. If you feel vaguely disturbed or irritated, without really knowing what has happened to you, do not gloss over it. Focus on your sensations, trust in the fact that something more tangible, something that you can deal with, waits for you to take it out of hiding. When you can let a feeling—pain, fear, disappointment—happen to you and go to its very end, its energy current transforms itself into its original life flow.
Thus, when you no longer fear a feeling, then that feeling can no longer come to you. You must understand, my dearest friends, that anything undesirable that happens to you comes to you only because you say, “No, I must not experience that, and what can I do to avoid it?” Indeed, most people are motivated to start spiritual work like this because what they really seek are better ways to avoid the undesirable feelings.
When it finally dawns on them that exactly the opposite direction must be taken, many leave the path, unwilling to accept the truth that avoidance is futile. They insist on their illusion. By going into the undesirable feeling, you will see the miracle happen as a stark reality, not as a principle you hear expounded: that the acceptance of pain makes the pain pleasure. Thus you witness the process of unifying duality. By learning to give up the fight against them (feelings), you will, for the first time, lose fear. What are the feelings you fear? Really face that.
P7 The fear of feelings, makes you arrogant and isolated, cruel and greedy, selfish and life-denying. It makes you untruthful on the inner and most vital level of your being. The negation of your original pain in this life leads to insatiable demands, such as to be spared all frustration, to never be criticized, to be always loved and loved your way. Until you recognize and abandon these demands and go through the original pain, you will be caught in the see-saw of submission and rebellion. This will happen when you are willing to experience whatever comes to you, knowing that you have produced it and that it exists within you.
P8 Your full commitment to everything you can possibly feel; your observation of feelings you fear and the events that bring forth those feelings; and your commitment at last to try to face and experience them constitute the healing process that will unify your entire being.
—The Pathwork® Guide