P1 You so often forget that emotional change is not something that can be commanded. You cannot change your feelings and emotional reactions by an act of will. You can use your will to do the necessary and often tedious work of searching for a clear-cut meaning to your confused emotions. But your emotions can change only after you have repeatedly had the humility to recognize their lower nature. You will find that there are that many facets of you. The first and most important step is to find out your desires. And when I speak of desires, I do not mean the important aims and goals in your life or the big issues. No, I mean that any small or insignificant reaction on your part contains a desire of one sort or another.
Think of any unimportant incident when you feel disharmonious, angry, irritated, or joyful and optimistic. In each of these reactions lies a desire. If you wish to find out who you are, you must first ascertain the desires. First you must learn to conduct your daily review. The next step, instead of merely acknowledging, “I felt angry or hopeful or unhappy or joyous on such and such an occasion,” is to ask yourself why you felt these reactions, no matter how obvious the reason may be as far as other people and outer circumstances are concerned.
Ask yourself, what might be the desire behind your reaction. “What do I really want in connection with this situation that makes me angry or fearful now? I am angry because I want something different. What is it that I want?” Or, “I am joyful because a desire of mine has apparently been fulfilled. What was this desire? And if I feel hopeful, is it because the chances seem greater now that some desire of mine will be fulfilled? What is this desire, in clear-cut, simple words?” Try to make a habit of such self-questioning. Learn first to establish a concise, articulate awareness of your desires.
Your unconscious desires often deviate from your conscious ones. Your conscious desires and aims that guide your actions are in accord with the goals of your Higher Self, but simultaneously lower and selfish aims are also present. These lower aims find justification in the higher aims, which serve very well to hide their existence. One motive does not exclude another. Purification does not mean merely that you change desires. It means that you separate the good motives from the wrong ones, at first by simply observing them. Do not ever try to force your feelings. It cannot be done.
Try to become capable of saying, “Here my desire is this or that. The conscious desire is good. But I recognize that this or that selfish motive also plays a role. I will continue to perform the good act, but I will not deceive myself that I am utterly free of selfishness, vanity, or whatever other trend may be involved. I can only pray and hope that these unruly currents will weaken with time. You will thus accomplish infinitely more toward your purification than by trying to force feelings away. Humanity makes a definite distinction between feelings and thoughts. You know that in spirit both are concrete forms of subtle matter.
The way we see it, feelings are essentially the same as thoughts. The only difference between thoughts and feelings is in the strength and intensity, not in the characteristic or type. A feeling is more potent and intense than any thought you can harbor. Convictions and opinions unfortified by emotion are weak, and the forms can dissolve much faster than those in which opinions and views are charged with emotion. By making your emotions conscious, you turn them into thoughts, and then, if you wish, you turn these thoughts into actions.
You know that thoughts cannot be changed quickly even without personal emotional involvement; how much longer then does it take to alter emotions! How great the fight to overcome the temptation of sluggishness and pride! For it also requires a certain humility to change long-held views. Changing thoughts that have no emotional impact needs certain skills. Much more patience and wisdom is needed to change an outlook or attitude in which deep-rooted emotions are involved. You can change an opinion only if you deliberate and weigh it, discriminate, and select.
During this process, a new opinion may evolve. Or, after conscious and mature deliberation, you may decide the old opinion seems right. Do not be dismayed that your unpurified emotions do not change merely because you have finally recognized their unpurified nature. Becoming aware of your mixed motives requires humility. It means living in a healthy state of truth, even though a truth may not be flattering at this moment. To find the images, you have to work from two sides: (1) examine your childhood and your reactions at the time and (2) examine the desires in your present reactions to daily occurrences. They will form one whole picture.
Although consciously and outwardly your life may appear well directed, within you are in turmoil. You may find that you do not really know what you want. At first, it may be most frightening to find out that you actually do not know what you want. How could you admit that you have several completely contradictory desires, that cancel each other out? Yet the child in you desires two impossibilities, and often more. By hiding this conflict, you thought that you would rid yourself of it. To begin with, simply register the desires. Refrain from judgments and evaluations such as, “But this is silly, this is impossible, this is unworthy of me,” and the like.
P5 And since your desires, feelings, and thoughts are potent magnetic fields, they attract circumstances that correspond to the inner conflicts. Perhaps you desire fulfillment of a certain kind and you desire the advantages of the opposite desire. The motives in the latter, conflicting desire may not be flattering for you, therefore you repress it. The more unconscious an emotion or desire is, the more effect it has in your life. Consequently you get exactly that which you consciously do not desire, but which you want unconsciously.
Only after you have found the reasons for all your conflicting currents and understand your hitherto unconscious confusion, will you be able to have one clear desire, going steadfastly in one direction. You will then become mature enough in your soul to realize that the price must be paid. Not only personal and individual images but mass images, race images, national images, historical images exist in each time and civilization. A personal image of yours may coincide with and be strengthened by a mass image.
Everyone is affected to some extent by the mass images. There is a mass image about the duration of life. For a long time, this mass image held that humans reach an average of, let us say, forty-five years of age. If humanity had not improved psychologically and spiritually enough to be ready to let go of the old image or illusion, no technical improvement would have extended life. Another mass image is that when one reaches a certain age, one becomes weak and sick. All humanity is affected by it.
P9 It (law of affinity) is the law of cause and effect and embraces all universal and psychological processes. Take, for instance, the images. When an image exists and brings a person into certain situations in life, certain people are drawn into his life. This is based on the law of affinity, because the forms of thought, feeling, and desire attract that which corresponds. The same (about race and creed mass images) applies to nationality.
There are some people born into a country where there is perhaps a strong trend of nationalism and exaggerated patriotism. They remain in this country, and it never occurs to them that their own outlook is prejudiced. What you see going on in your time is a gradual but very definite destruction of mass imagery about nationalism. Therefore, from our point of view, even the upheaval and the dreadful sorrows of war have their good points. For without these upheavals, people would not go from one country to another and broaden their views.
—The Pathwork® Guide