To have self-fulfillment, we need to be in harmony with ourselves and with life. There are three topics that form the basis for achieving this harmony:

1) Having a positive concept of life that sees the universe as safe.

2) Being free and fearless to love.

3) Holding a healthy balance between the forces of activity and passivity.

Let’s weave these together to see how they create one comprehensive whole. For they all depend on awakening our innermost self and activating the core that we can call the Real Self. Without that, it’s our ego running the show. And as long as our ego is our sole motivator in life, it will be impossible to have confidence that life is safe. This will make it impossible to be fearless about loving. It will also make it impossible to find that delicate balance between being active and being passive. Let’s take a closer look.

Once we have a list of our faults, the second step is to understand why they exist. Why do we cling to them?
Once we have a list of our faults, the second step is to understand why they exist. Why do we cling to them?

To have a healthy concept of life is to have a truthful concept of life, which is that life is utterly benign. Life is safe. When we stray from knowing this truth, we’ll experience life as hostile and we’ll feel the need to defend ourselves against it. On our spiritual path, as we dig through the layers of our psyche in an effort to untangle any disharmony, somehow we always find that we’re sitting on a negative concept of life.

A negative concept of life is not a benign thing, because it interacts directly with our faults. And this interaction is a two-way street. First, we’re driven by the destructive forces caused by our negative concept of life. This expands our negative beliefs, even if we’re hardly aware of them. Second, our negative beliefs cause us to take a defensive posture toward life, and that perpetuates our destructiveness.

By examining our faults, we can begin to unwind all this. The first step, as is so often the case, will be to become aware of our faults. While not easy, this isn’t that difficult if we approach the task in the right way. Once we have a list of our faults, the second step is to understand why they exist. Why do we cling to them? If we look closely, we’ll see they are intended to ward off something bad we feared would happen to us. So they sit on the fixed foundation of a negative assumption we take for granted.

Having spotted this, we’re ready for the third step. We need to question this assumption. Is it true? What would happen without this fault? No, seriously. Is it possible that this assumption is wrong? And how is this fault affecting others? For whether our faults are acted out or just thought about and felt, they have an effect.

Our goal is to expand our view of things and see the greater significance of the fault we’re dealing with. For in order to truly want to rid ourselves of a fault, we have to comprehend how it affects others, and consider whether it’s actually doing its job. When we are no longer sure it’s really working to protect us, and when we are able to see that we are possibly being harmed by it, not helped, and when we also see that our fault is hurting others, then, and only then, will we want to put our energy into something more positive. We’ll become ready to replace our habitual old fault with a new, constructive attitude.

If we want to transform our lives for the better, this is the way we must go. Almost never can we get there any other way. It’s just not possible to transform something we aren’t aware of. And it’s impossible to transform some attitude we’re holding onto if we don’t know why we’re holding onto it. We have to understand it and see how it’s affecting people. We can’t gloss over these things or hope that some vague recognition will be enough. Transformation can’t happen in the face of such ignorance.

Know what else we’re going to need? Our Real Self, which we can contact and activate with our egos. Without this access, we won’t have the stamina to go the distance. This is the circuit that requires connecting to give us the light we need to see what’s hiding in the dark.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears

Free and fearless loving

Now let’s look at how being fearless is a precondition for loving. If we’ve been on a spiritual path for any length of time, we’ve probably seen the way fear of loving underpins most of our human predicaments. This may take different forms in different conflicts or with different people, as fear of loving can appear with many different guises.

But really, by now, the entire world has generally caught on to how important love is. Any truthful teaching will tell us that love means freedom and peace and life. Lack of love, then, equals conflict, enslavement and death. To be without love is to be restless, anxious and unhappy. Everyone is on the same page on this one, including psychologists and psychiatrists.

And still, people often find it so hard to give themselves fearlessly to this eternal stream that flows from deep within. Why is that? After all, our natural state of existence is to be loving. Yet we manage to cover that up and contort love into unnatural forms. These twists and turns keep us alienated from our own center, where love is a natural stream that flows with effortless ease. Love is a natural phenomenon that comes preinstalled in every human being. We hinder love only because we fear it.

Sadly, we often think we must be able to define love to have it. So we grope for these definitions with our minds, assuming that if we understand love intellectually, it might land in us. The error lies in believing love comes to us from the outside. In reality, love exists in its perfect form, right there in our core.

But if we really insist we need a definition of love, it would be this: Love is whatever furthers unity, inclusion and expansion; love is whatever allows the safety of the universe to unfold. Anything that ignores the beautiful, benign nature of life goes in the direction of exclusion and separateness, and that would be definition of the opposite of love.

The opposite of love could also be called the opposite of life, or nonlife. In other words, the opposite of love is some degree of death. For just as there are many degrees of life, there are many degrees of death. And yet here we are, fearing love, which means we fear the life, peace and freedom that only love can bring. Meanwhile, we cling to the separating forces of being non-loving, as though somehow that’s going to protect us.

So let’s not delude ourselves that we love, when there are places where we’re refusing to reach out and connect. For anywhere we have problems, whether on the inside or the outside, there’s a lack of love going on. For sure, this is almost never all of us, but it’s always somewhere in all of us. It’s useful, when we dredge up an awareness of where we refuse to love, that we compare this with the areas where we do love.

If we feel determined to not love, this resistance is always coupled with—caused by, actually—a fear to love. It’s crucial that we start to make this connection and not skip or neglect this during our self-confrontation: “Here is where I do not love, and the reason I don’t want to love is because I am afraid to love.”

At this point, we don’t yet know why. We might come up with some clichéd theories or glib answers. Like, “If I love, I’ll be more vulnerable to being hurt.” But is this really convincing? Think about it. Let’s admit this isn’t really true.

Perhaps we’ll see that we enjoy indulging in vindictiveness. It feels good, we think, to strike out at others. This is probably closer to the point we need to find. It’s good to uncover such feelings fully, accept them, and try to understand them. But this is still not the whole story. And we won’t be able to sort this one out completely until we bring in the third topic.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears
The ego has other functions, like discerning and taking action. But alas, it does not possess the faculty of love.
The ego has other functions, like discerning and taking action. But alas, it does not possess the faculty of love.

Love and the ego

But before we go there, let’s circle back and realize this: It’s impossible to transform our fear of love from our ego, just as it’s impossible to transform a negative attitude or concept to a positive one using exclusively the ego. It just can’t be done. This is so because the quality of love doesn’t live in the ego, it resides in the Real Self. The ego has other functions, like discerning and taking action, but alas, it does not possess the faculty of love.

Love is a feeling that arises wholly from the inner self. That’s why we can’t understand love in terms of intellectual processes, as so many try to do. We can’t conceptualize love because it’s not a concept of the ego-mind. It’s a feeling we must permit. And in order to give ourselves complete permission to love, we must realize our inner being and have a positive concept of life.

Now, if it were true that life is hostile and intent on depriving us, then it would indeed be dangerous to love. But if life is safe, free and giving—if life is for us and not against us—then not only is it safe to love, but loving is the only way possible to be at peace and live in harmony with the world.

So then it’s critical we connect our fear of loving with our negative concept of life. Which means we can have freedom from fear of loving if we adopt a positive concept of life. Even if we are in total harmony in certain areas of our lives, loving and trusting life, we need to be willing to compare that with the areas where our life experiences aren’t happy. We will find the exact opposite holds true.

If we will test every part of our lives, we will convince ourselves of the importance of having a positive concept of life. Then we can abandon our hate and fear, our separation and seclusion. We need to give ourselves the chance to see if it’s true that life is safe by opening ourselves up, at least a little bit.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears
Why do we see activity as the undesirable facet? Because it requires a sense of responsibility.
Why do we see activity as the undesirable facet? Because it requires a sense of responsibility.

Active and passive forces

Now let’s turn to the third member of this important triad: the healthy balance between being active and passive. Perhaps we’ve noticed in ourselves a strange and hard-to-explain distaste for being active and an equally odd hankering to be passive. This appears more strongly in some people than in others, but to whatever extent this shows up, it’s necessary that we understand what’s happening.

If we desire to be passive, this means we feel that being passive is better. It seems to promise a peacefulness that many confuse, unconsciously, with the state of being. The state of activity, then, is seen as a chore. It’s a difficulty we fear we can’t live up to and therefore would like to avoid. Why is this so?

First, we need to understand that this distorted idea comes from duality. The error lies in taking a fragment of unity and separating it from its complimentary fragment. In this way, activity is pitted as the opposite of passivity. In reality, in the highest states of consciousness, these two mingle so that the healthy state of activity is also, at the same time, passive, and vice versa. On the level of duality, this sounds like a contradiction.

We can demonstrate the truth of this point in our everyday life by seeing the way healthy activities are easy and effortless. Undertaking activity with a relaxed approach sounds passive, right? In this kind of healthy relaxation, we move without straining so our action has a peaceful rhythm. If we were to fragment off this rhythm of peace and experience it as a particle, it might seem like passivity.

Let’s look at this concept from the other end. When we find ourselves dropping into a peaceful rhythm, we’re never motionless. In this state of being—when we are in healthy passivity—the action of movement flows with the rhythm of the universe. It operates with the same unstrained motion of peace.

For a creative process to happen, there must always be a balance between the principles of activity and passivity. Said another way, without the harmony of these two forces complementing each another, the creative process is unthinkable. This applies to every single healthy activity on this planet, bar none. Even the balance between work and leisure are regulated by this principle.

Our work, when it arises from a healthy person, flows effortlessly, while our leisure can’t be revitalizing if it’s static and still. If we’re totally still, of course, we are dead and that’s not all that invigorating. Only life revives us, and life must move.

In the distortion of duality, we see activity as movement and passivity as standing still. Activity appears to ask us to exert strain, whereas passivity promises to relieve strain. In other words, we are back to seeing everything as basically good or bad. One side looks desirable, meaning the other must be undesirable.

Why do we see activity as the undesirable facet? Because it requires a sense of responsibility. It asks us to be grown up about dealing with the difficulties of life, so that the limitations of life gradually go away. So if we’re totally identified with our ego, action then will seem frightening. For the ego is not designed to take action without being guided by the Real Self. It simply doesn’t come preconfigured with the right properties for that.

So whenever we’re not in touch with our Real Self, we’re going to fear all the demands that being active makes on a person. And all the lip service in the world won’t close the gap. Hence, being passive looks awfully tempting since, by its nature, it’s not going to be demanding. Passivity comes without any fearsome obligations or expectations.

Then again, when we’re exclusively identified with our egos and are neglecting the presence of our active side—which is a natural part of who we are—passivity is going to seem equally frightful. For in distortion, being passive is akin to being helpless. In a way, this makes sense. Because if we won’t act purposefully—if we’re rejecting and avoiding activity due to fear—we’re not living in alignment with the universal laws inside us that always have our best interest at heart. As a result, we’re at the mercy of circumstances outside ourselves, which are beyond our control.

Consequently, on one level we avoid activity, fearful we’re not capable of carrying out whatever action is called for, while on another level we’re afraid to stop and rest. When our ego can’t tell the difference between healthy passivity and being stagnant, it tends to go into overdrive. We become overactive and more and more alienated from our Real Self.

So there’s a one-to-one correlation between having a negative concept of life—which implies we’re not in close contact with our innermost self—and being out of balance in our activity and passivity. The two things, in fact, are identical. If we’re living in fear of our innermost self, why would we want to make contact with it? It would seem then that our only solution is to concentrate all our energy on our outer ego self. And this most assuredly disconnects us further from our Real Self and the life-giving powers that flow from within.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears

False solutions

From here, we will go on to force ourselves to be in a loving state. Not only have we learned that this is what society expects from us, but also, we want to comply with our innermost conscience—our inner voice—that’s never been completely snuffed out. Plus, we’re hoping this is going to bring us the love, affection, approval, respect and acceptance we desire, without which we can’t live.

Now we are forced to love from our ego-self, which is never going to work. The ego simply doesn’t possess the power of love, so it can’t give it. We’re doomed to fail. If by chance, however, we do have some genuine love currents flowing from us, they have arisen from our innermost being. So whether we admit that such a place exists in us, they’re coming into our personality through the back door, as it were.

If we’ve got that back door shut and locked tight, though, it will impossible for love to squeeze through. We’ll be cut off from the stream of life and love, and that will show up in our feelings of emptiness and helplessness, despair and isolation. These of course don’t feel good so we laboriously try to overcome them by loving from our ego. That’s downright exhausting though, and the more exhausted we become, the more we shy away from activity which only seems like it will add strain to our already exhausted ego.

This looks like a good time to flee, and so off we go into the relief of passivity. As such, being passive seems incredibly desirable. But this kind of passivity is never fulfilling. It leaves us feeling more empty, increasingly dissatisfied, and more frightened. For that is the way of all false solutions. The farther we flee, the more apathetic we become, for naturally at this point, healthy passivity has slid all the way down into the distortion of apathy.

And so it is we find ourselves living in the pit of life with no invigorating life movement left. And this state, the lifeless state of apathy, is packed with a greater terror than any hurt or unhappiness.  

Maybe now we can see that we really do need to contact our Real Self. We need to allow it to act, no matter how resistant or scared we feel. We might doubt it will work, but how about the alternative? The central idea here is to work on consolidating all our difficulties into one simple inner movement. Otherwise, without our Real Self, it won’t be possible to find abundance and live in the wide-open expanses of life.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears

Getting started

If we don’t activate the Real Self, love can’t come to us. This makes us feel isolated and distrustful, but our conscience isn’t going to let us rest there. Even if much of our personality is open and loving, if there’s a speck of non-lovingness left, our conscience isn’t going to let that be. This may take any of a variety of forms, all of which will chip away at our ability to live our best life.

But when we are ready to establish contact with our true home base, our actions can be peaceful and our passivity can be enlivening. With the Real Self in charge, activity and passivity will walk in lockstep. Our reactions will be relaxed and meaningful and our actions will be desirable in themselves. Our passivity will hold no threat of being helpless. We’ll be able to trust life and ourselves. All this is what rests on our deliberate activation of our innermost being.

Perhaps you hear an inner voice that says, “Oh yes, if only I could do that. Too bad I am not capable of wanting to contact my Real Self.” If that’s our attitude, we’re likely waiting for a miracle to happen so we’ll suddenly want to do the right thing. We’re waiting as though something other than us will step in and inspire us to act. If that’s the case, we might be waiting forever.

Consider the possibility that there’s a nucleus of power and intelligence within that we need not fear. Think about giving it a chance. We can commit to this possibility, even if in this moment it’s only a possibility. What do we have to lose? And how else might it come to life?

It won’t arise based on theory or because something happens from the outside. We’re the ones who must make it happen. If we make a start, even if it’s tentative at first, our Real Self will gradually reveal itself and its reality to us. Our action is to commit to finding it.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears
We’re afraid to dismantle our Mask Self because we think our destructiveness is ultimately who we really are.
We’re afraid to dismantle our Mask Self because we think our destructiveness is ultimately who we really are.

Finding the Real Self

So just where is this life center we’re committing to find? Is it located in our subtle bodies, or in our physical organs, or where? In truth, it’s all of these places. For it is life itself, transcending everything and entering wherever there is an opening. By its very nature, it can’t be more in one place and less in another. It’s not a fixed spot.

That said, looking through our illusory lens of time, space and movement, the life center seems to be located down deep in our solar plexus, where we sense the pit of our stomach to be. This isn’t completely an illusion, given that this actually is where we notice it the most. That’s because this is where we are most receptive and open, and also most vulnerable.

When our Real Self is activated and not obstructed, it flows through every layer of our being. To the extent it is not activated, it can’t reach the outer layers of our personality. When we are physically sick, our body remains inactive in the areas affected by the illness, and these correspond to the mental and emotional blocks—our distorted ideas and disharmonious feelings—that are involved.

When our outlook is sick—in other words, when we have a bad attitude—the Real Self is blocked off. So then its emanations can’t penetrate into certain areas of our psyche. When that’s the case, our Real Self does not show up in our outer personality but remains hidden in the depths of our soul. This is why our first task is to dismantle our Mask Self, penetrating past it so we can see the destructive attitudes we’re hiding.

We’re afraid to do this because we think our destructiveness is ultimately who we really are. We think our goodness only exists in our outer façade. Only after we win this first battle can our destructive currents be properly released so they can reconvert to their original form. Then our hidden Real Self can begin to manifest.

This is the only way for the Real Self to come into our awareness and into reality. Once it’s released—once we stop blocking it—it can surge through all the levels of our personality and heal our distortions. This is the way to become a totally self-realized person who is alive on all levels, physical as well as mental and emotional. 

This activation and enlivened state is not going to come about overnight. Let’s not forget how long we’ve been living with our fears, not only in this lifetime. We’ve conditioned ourselves to patterns of reacting that can’t be broken up suddenly. This goes deeper than we know. These first inklings of awareness are a marvelous step and to get this far is already a tremendous victory on our spiritual path.

But we must come to realize how deeply entrenched fear is. We must become aware of all the specific reasons for our ingrained fears. We must want to understand what we already know on a deeper level. Then little by little, the heavy wall of fog will dissolve. All the mazes of confusion that cover up the Real Self, with its wonderful, strong feelings, will become clear. Our preliminary insights will continue to unfold when we observe our reactions and utter the wish to feel love in our whole person, including our physical body.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears


To love is to live. It is to have an attitude of openness and inclusion, and to move towards another. When such movement is lacking, that is not love. That is not living, and so that is death. When we fear that life is dangerous and hostile, we defend ourselves against it. This is an error in our understanding of life, and duality is the result of erroneous concepts. Death, then, including physical death, is precisely the result of duality.

If we are here, living in duality, we must be in error somewhere. And error equates to nonlove, which directly opposes life as it really is. And how is life really? It is potential, waiting and ready to unfold whenever it is allowed to, wherever truthful, appropriate concepts stand so that nothing is blocking its way. This life that we are living is a continuum that flows in a constantly moving process. We are able to sense this only when our personal psyche is following its own life-movement. This formula is as reliable as any mathematical equation.

So then if we reach our Real Self and are able to love, we’ll never die, right? In truth, it’s all a matter of degree. Inorganic life is the closest thing we know of to the state of life where there is no love. Total love, on the other end of the spectrum, is when we have no more inner splits due to false concepts. That’s when universal consciousness—unity, oneness—can be completely realized. Then there will be no more duality, so no more life and death. To get there, we each have to walk very slowly through all the many stages of evolution. Right now, we are working our way through this interim stage of being human.

Let’s say we realize, after reading these teachings or by doing our personal work, that we’ve never really loved anything or anyone. Now we want to find our Real Self. The place to start is by asking ourselves to what extent we believe life is against us, causing us to not love. We need to write down our specific ideas: In what particular respect do I assume life is against me?

If our answer is, “In all ways,” we haven’t gone far enough. It doesn’t suffice to make general admissions, for that’s not quite accurate. We have to be specific. Then, when our list is complete, we can begin to wonder: “Maybe it’s not this way after all.” We have to make allowances for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we are mistaken.

Often we create a bottleneck in our progress on our path by not moving away from a wrong conclusion. We have found a hidden wrong belief, we know in principle it’s wrong—it must be wrong if it creates disharmony—but we double down, saying, “Yes, but this is how I feel.” Then we sit and wait to feel differently without making any effort on our part.

The way to solve our problems is by seriously questioning our conclusions and admitting that maybe things could be different. We must make room for the truth. And truth can’t enter into a closed, dark room filled with misconceptions about life and about the nature of who we truly are at our core.

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears

Universal connectivity

When we are at one with the center of our being, we will unite with the universal core of everyone else. From there we can reach out with love and touch others, whether they are currently in a human body or not. Everything will fall into place and unify.

This is how we can reach loved ones who have passed on. Not by being in touch with a specific individual in the nonphysical world, but by connecting with all beings, wherever they are. For to attempt to establish individual contact with someone who has died is not really helpful for anyone concerned. It shifts the emphasis away from what really is important—clearing away what is blocking us from contact with our own innermost self—to something that is not really important.  

In the end, it is far more truthful and more loving to put our emphasis on what really matters: self-realization. Then love with other incarnated people will happen in the best possible way. By contrast, making contact with people who are no longer in their bodies can never be as fulfilling, ever. It must lead, in some way, to an escape from what is most important to emphasize.

People who seek the comfort of contacting a deceased loved one do so to alleviate their doubt and their pain. But it never really accomplishes that in a genuine, lasting way. Only by doing our personal work of self-development can we find lasting peace. But if we’re not willing to do this work and unwind our erroneous concepts, no one else can help us.

The moment we want to move beyond our current limitations, however, help will reach us from all sides. Then we’ll be able to receive the love, strength and truth that’s in the air all around us. Our gaze will adjust and our perceptions will change, to the degree that we activate love, strength and truth in our core and we’re uniting with others.

–The Pathwork Guide

Blinded by Fear: Insights From the Pathwork® Guide on How to Face Our Fears

Read Original Pathwork Lecture #146: The Positive Concept of Life—Fearlessness to Love—the Balance Between Activity and Passivity