Lecture 50 – The Vicious Circle | Abbreviated Version

Reading Time: 6 minutes

P1             Realize that the vicious circle is hidden. The vicious circle begins in childhood, where all images are formed. The child is helpless; it needs to be taken care of; it cannot stand on its own two feet; it cannot make mature decisions; it cannot be independent of weak and selfish motives—and therefore must depend on other human beings to a certain degree. Hence the child is incapable of unselfish love. If childish emotions stay hidden, only part of the personality will grow while another part—and a very important one at that—will remain immature. There are very few adults who are as mature emotionally as they are intellectually. Nothing can really be solved by what another person can or cannot do!

P2             The love it (the child) wants is selfish; it does not want to share love with others, with brothers or sisters or even with the other parent. The child is often unconsciously jealous of both parents. Yet, if the parents do not love each other, the child suffers even more. On the one hand the child wants the love of each parent exclusively; on the other, it suffers if the parents do not love each other. In short, the exclusive love the child craves can never be gratified. Furthermore, whenever the child is prohibited from having its way that serves as an additional “proof” to the child that it is not sufficiently loved.

This frustration causes the child to feel rejected, which, in turn, causes hatred, resentment, hostility, and aggression. This is the second part of the vicious circle. The very fact that hatred exists for the very person one loves dearly creates an important conflict in the human psyche. It is self-evident that the child feels ashamed of these negative emotions, and therefore it puts this conflict into the subconscious where it festers. The hatred causes guilt because the child is taught early that it is bad, wrong, and sinful to hate, particularly one’s parents whom one is supposed to love and honor.

The guilt has a further, and again inevitable, reaction. Feeling guilty, the unconscious says, “I desire to be punished.” Thus a fear of punishment arises in the soul, which again is almost always completely unconscious. With the fear of punishment a further reaction sets in. Whenever you are happy and enjoy pleasure, in spite of this being a natural longing, you feel you do not deserve it. The guilt of hating those it loves most, convinces the child that it is undeserving of anything good, joyful, or pleasurable. On the one hand, the personality is yearning for happiness and fulfillment, on the other, a fear of happiness prohibits the fulfillment.

P3             Now, the fear of being punished and the fear of not deserving happiness create a further and more complicated reaction. The unconscious mind thinks, “I am afraid to be punished by others, although I know I deserve it. It is much worse to be punished by others, for then I am really at the mercy of others, be it people, be it the fates, be it God, be it life itself. But perhaps if I punished myself I could at least avoid the humiliation, the helplessness, and the degradation of being punished by forces outside myself.”

The compulsive desire for self-punishment due to wrong and ignorant conclusions exists in every human being to some degree. Thus the personality inflicts punishment on itself. This may happen in various ways, either by physical disease that the psyche produces, or by various mishaps, difficulties, failures, or conflicts in any area of life. One of the conflicting feelings is the need for self-punishment, yet, on the other hand, the desire not to be punished coexists with it. Thus a hidden part argues, “Perhaps I can get around it. Perhaps I can atone in another way for my great guilt of hating.”

The imaginary atonement amounts to a kind of bargaining. One does so by setting such a high standard for oneself that it is impossible to live up to it in reality. Do not confuse this conscience with the second conscience that has been artificially created out of compulsion to atone for a supposed sin, or even for a real failing. Neither imaginary sins nor real failings can be atoned for by the artificial and over-demanding conscience; in reality no one needs to be punished.

P4             The good and pure divine conscience is, of course, concerned with your progress, with your spiritual development, and with the fulfillment of your personal task in life. It is also concerned with your personal law. So perhaps your surroundings lead you to do something that in itself is right and yet that may not be the right thing for you. On the other hand what your real conscience wants you to do may at first appear contrary to the ethical and moral law of your environment.

Sometimes the outer morals are rigid and senseless. By adhering to them, you may inflict more harm on others and yourself than by following your own personal divine law. Divine law is always determined first and foremost by whether it hurts others. At times it may appear to be so according to human rigid standards, which always have the tendency to go by the letter and not according to the deep meaning. Rigid standards of humanity must often by their very nature be ungodly and compulsive in the same sense as your second, artificial conscience. For what lives in the individual always lives in humanity as a whole. Here is the difficulty: there are no rules.

At times the right way may be what both your real and your compulsive conscience are saying—only the motives may be different. At other times, your real conscience directs you toward the very thing you desire most, but you have no courage to obey it because your compulsive conscience speaks too loudly. This voice says, “I am too guilty. I must not be happy. I do not deserve it.” They (people) are constantly whipped by the slave driver of their compulsive conscience. The compulsive second conscience makes demands that are impossible to fulfil. Inevitably the result must be a feeling of inadequacy and inferiority.

The divine conscience knows you cannot be perfect yet; it wants to show you step by step how to attain perfection by degrees, by accepting yourself as you are now without guilt and fear. The compulsive conscience does not know anything of the kind; it has to be perfect now. Furthermore, the motives of these two voices vary. The divine conscience has time; The second conscience is motivated by weakness and fear. It bargains; it wants to avoid something that may or may not be good, healthy, and deserved—it depends how you look at so called punishment. It is too proud to realize that you simply cannot be perfect yet. It is also too proud to let you accept yourself as you are now. All inferiority feelings in human nature can be reduced to this common denominator. You have to uncover the whole vicious circle and see its lack of reason; you have to live through the emotions that led you to create it.

Without your artificially high standards, you would not feel the need to be better than or at least as good as others in every realm of your life. Again, your unconscious little voice argues, “I have failed. I know I am inferior, but perhaps, if I could just receive a great amount of love and respect and admiration from others this would feel like the same gratification which I originally yearned for and which was withheld from me back then, thereby forcing me into the position of hating and creating this entire circle. So the circle closes where it started, and the need to be loved and admired becomes much more compulsive than it originally was.

The personality unconsciously feels that if such love does exist at all, then the child was right, and your parents, or whoever else it was who did not give it to you, were wrong. The inner child has only the immature desire and craving for love, and wants to be loved and cherished, cared for and admired even by people the individual has no intention to love in return. And with those people who may have the intention to love in return, to some degree, the proportion between their willingness to give and their compulsive need to receive is very uneven.

P7             You will have to see that as a child you were justified in having certain feelings, attitudes, needs and incapacities which are now obsolete. You also have to learn to be tolerant with your negative emotions. You have to understand them. Giving them leeway, and realizing that they are habit-bound will do it. If you discover their wrong trends again and again, long after you have initially understood their childishness, then, and then only, will these emotions slowly begin to mature. When you face them—their ignorance, selfishness, and immaturity—without being ashamed, and apply your conscious knowledge to them, catching yourself whenever you fall back into old, bad emotional habits, your subconscious will gradually reveal more and more wrong conclusions.

P8             Some people may develop a sickness which will be a form of childish temper tantrum, or they may simply make life difficult for those around them. By their unhappiness such people constantly inflict hardship on others with the aim of forcing their will and their compulsive childish need to receive the child’s utopia of perfect love and care.

—The Pathwork® Guide

Share