Many people go through life in a state of isolation, stranded on an ego-centered island.

There are basically two currents that flow through the universe. One of them is love, which leads to union. It does so by reaching out to others. Love communicates and rises above the limitations of the little ego. For the ego lives on an island of isolation. And while the ego is only a part of a much grander whole, it thinks it is the center of the universe.

Beyond our limited ego, then, and beneath the distortions of our Lower Self sits our true self, or Higher Self. It is from here that love unfolds. Although our true self rests calmly at the center of our being, it never considers itself to be the ultimate end. And yet, it is only by finding and connecting with this true essence at our core that we can reach the height of our potential.

Our goal then is to transcend our ego and start experiencing life from the vantage point of our true innermost self. Then we will no longer be limited by the barriers we create for ourselves through our false, limiting beliefs. After all, it is these wrong conclusions about life that block the flow of love.

So it is our own misconceptions that separate us and hold us back. But once we break free from our own self-created barriers, we will be able to create union with others.

Two forces in the universe

The other basic force in the universe is the one by which most people still live. It’s the principle that puts the ego at the center. In this state, we “enjoy” life alone. And by enjoy, we really mean suffer. Regardless how many loved ones surround us and share our life with us, when our ego is the center of our existence, we will essentially feel separate.

As we stand firmly planted in the shoes of our ego, we think we’re the only ones who experience this—whether we’re talking about this particular pain or that particular joy—in quite this or that way. And this self-centered separateness feels unshakable.

This is the most essential step we can take on our evolutionary journey.

Our work then is to transition from this state of ego-centric isolation to the state of union with all that is. This is the most essential step we can take on our evolutionary journey.

For each of us, this transition has to come, whether in this lifetime or in another one. When it occurs will vary from person to person. But when walking a spiritual path such as this one, it must come sooner or later. The hope is that each of us will swing from living an ego-centered life to living from our true center while we are still here, in this particular incarnation.

Developing greater self-honesty

If we want more love in our life, we need to head in the direction of becoming more honest with ourselves. Or as the Guide so elegantly put it, “Self-honesty is the first step toward love.”

Here are the first four steps that anyone can take. They will help us develop a greater connection with our own inner light by clearing away all the dishonesties that are blocking it.

STEP ONE: Uncover our faults

For starters, we must begin to notice our own faults. This is our first step in getting to know ourselves. Yet for most of us, seeing our shortcomings—even as they appear on the most easy-to-spot level—isn’t easy. For we’re largely untrained in the skill of self-observation.

Remember, all our faults stem from one of three main roots: self-will, pride or fear. No matter what fault we uncover in ourselves, if we dig deep enough, we’ll see how it comes from one of these three things.

STEP TWO: Find our misunderstandings

Digging a little deeper, we’ll move onto the second step and start to uncover our wrong conclusions about life. We’ll gradually come to realize we harbor misunderstandings that are connected with all our conflicts in life.

STEP THREE: Unwind the misunderstandings

Now we’re ready for the third big step on our spiritual path. We’ll need to see how our faults are embedded in our misunderstandings. Said another way, we need to see that our misunderstandings seem to justify our faulty thinking and behaving. For while we may have made some progress by now in overcoming our faults, we’ll now likely see they have deeper roots than we realized.

STEP FOUR: Go deeper

Next it’s time to circle back and discover where we are still proud and fearful, selfish and withdrawn. To find these weaknesses, we’ll need to look deeply within. We must search every inner conflict for these traits. For even if, on the outside, we’re outgoing and able to cover these things up, it’s still important to see where they remain hidden within.

Going through the Great Transition

Now let’s look at why we should go through these necessary but difficult steps. What will making such a change really mean for us? After all, those four steps sound like a lot of work. Is it really worth it? In fact, the ultimate aim of any spiritual path is to make this Great Transition from one state to the other. We want to transition from centering ourselves in our ego to living from our own inner light.

Being self-centered is the basic state most people are in.

Note, to say that people today are mostly self-centered may sound critical. But this word is being used here in a philosophical way. It’s the basic state of being that most people are in. Also keep in mind that transitioning from one state to another is not at all like flipping a switch. Along the way, we may have isolated moments of feeling fully awake, only to have it vanish. So we will have to take many steps on our path before this transition becomes permanent.

But there is a key to having this transition permanently stick. The key is to find and resolve all our hidden conflicts. In other words, we must go through those four steps until all our inner riddles have been solved.

There are two different states?

Many people don’t even realize there are two distinctly different states. In fact, most don’t realize they’re still living in the old state—the undesirable ego-centered state. And this lack of awareness makes going through this transition all that much harder.

How about some encouragement: Here are the promises of what lies ahead for those who do the hard work of spiritual healing. First, we’ll feel freedom. For our walls of isolating self-centeredness are very confining. Second, we’ll feel that life has a deep purpose. And not just our life, but all life!

Our walls of isolating self-centeredness are very confining.

Third, we’ll understand the reason behind all our experiences, even the hard ones. For we’ll see our life from a new point of view. Fourth, we’ll have a feeling of unity with everyone. And we’ll sense the importance of their purpose too, not just our own.

Beyond this, we’ll feel a joy and security we haven’t known before. This new security won’t carry any delusion about the end of all suffering. At the same time, we won’t cringe from such suffering. We will have a deep knowing that in the end, our suffering can’t harm us.

Adopting a whole new perspective

For many, there will be a feeling that whatever we’re experiencing in this moment has been felt by millions of others. Millions in the past have felt this way, and millions more will in the future. All our feelings, we’ll come to realize, have always existed. Be they happy or horrible, welcome or awful, we’re not the only ones who have experienced them.

The fact that we seem to produce our feelings doesn’t, in fact, mean we actually do produce them. What we really produce for ourselves is the condition of tuning into a particular force of an already existing emotion. It might sound like we’re splitting hairs here, but really this is a vitally important distinction to make.

We’re just tuning into what is already there.

As long as we harbor the illusion that we are producing a particular emotion that goes along with a certain life experience, then we think we’re unique, and alone, and separate. But we can start to see that we’re just tuning into what is already there. Then we automatically become part of a bigger whole. In which case, we’re not such a separated being after all.

Now, just hearing these words is not going to immediately create this new state of being in us. But by tuning into this perspective, we just might be able to accelerate our transition to this other way of being in the world. Because seeing what we have in common with everyone else can go a long way in widening our horizons.

Rather than feel sorry for ourselves for being less than perfect, and rather than beating ourselves up for finding our faults, we can make more constructive use of our negative inner findings. And believe it or not, this will open up our creative abilities.

Tuning into union vs. isolation

The great longing of all humanity is to participate in the life that follows after going through this transition into union. Meanwhile, in our ignorance, we fight this transition. Nevertheless, the longing always remains, because the state of union is the natural state of all God’s creatures. And in that state, there’s no loneliness anymore.

In our present state, however, many of us still feel essentially alone. In this state of isolation, the best we can hope for is a feeling that others are also feeling utterly alone. But that’s not at all what the new state really feels like.

The state of union is the natural state of all God’s creatures.

In the new state, we know deeply that all thoughts, all feelings, and all experiences already exist. And we are flowing along in those currents due to the conditions we ourselves have produced. Like radio waves, these forces are all around us, and within us. It’s up to us which ones we will tune into.

It’s our frame of mind, our emotional state, our level of development, our passing moods, and how we relate to our outer life circumstances that affect which stream we will experience. While tuning into one, we might also tune into another conflicting one. If we start to see things this way, we are bound to become, little by little, the being we actually are—a divine, deeply connected ray of light—instead of a separate, self-centered person.

The Grand Illusion: I don’t matter

Instead, we operate under the illusion that we are just one out of billions, and therefore we don’t count. We feel we’re just a cog in a wheel, and so we cling to our uniqueness. This, we think, gives us dignity. This, we believe, is the avenue to happiness. For if we’re just one among many, well then, our happiness must not be important.

What’s more, we misinterpret our right to being an individual. By buying into the illusion that we are a separate being, we lay claim to being essentially alone. At best, we believe that everyone suffers from this same uniqueness. As such, we are all fighting a tragic and unnecessary battle.

We are all fighting a tragic and unnecessary battle.

We think we have to fight against giving up our right to be an individual in order to be happy and feel important. But all we’re really doing is struggling to maintain our separateness. If we could clear this up, the fight would be much easier.

Because the truth is this: sharing something that already exists with others makes us happier people. We are each no more and no less than a part of a whole. And we all have the right to be happy. This fact gives us more, not less, dignity.

Moving toward me and the other

If we feel we are a separate individual, we assume that in order to have more for ourselves, we must take something away from others. That’s the error and the conflict. And in the old state, that’s how it actually works out. But to the extent we leave this state and transition to the state of union, the fullness and richness of life will grow.

That old state of separateness was, and still is, the world we live in.

In the new state, it’s no longer true that it’s me or the other. Now it’s me and the other. Once we glimpse this truth, even if for only a moment, we’ll no longer be torn by the conflict that either we have a happiness that is selfish, or we give up our “selfishness,” meaning our happiness isn’t important.

In the end, this misunderstanding makes us feel deeply guilty about our desire to be happy. But that conflict can vanish the minute we train our attention on a new outlook. From this new perspective, we’ll also see how steeped in separateness we were.

That old state of separateness was, and still is, the world we live in. But once we recognize this, our desire to leave that old world behind will blossom.

Gradually changing from the inside out

We’re all so afraid of changing. But in truth we don’t have anything to fear. Paradoxical as it may sound, we can go through this Great Transition and remain largely the same, even as we change.

For as we transition from being in isolation to being in union, our values are bound to change. We won’t just adopt new opinions, but a natural, organic inner growth will occur. Our outer opinions may not even change all that much. Yet we will experience them completely differently.

As we go through the Great Transition, what remains the same are the aspects of ourselves that are valid and valuable. Whatever is essentially us, at our core, will only be enriched. And what is not part of our core essence will slip away.

Best of all, as this transition occurs, creative forces will flow from the center of our being that we didn’t even know were there.

Allowing creative forces to flow

Many people go through life in a state of isolation, stranded on an ego-centered island. In this state, when love or creative talents try to flow forth, they get turned back. For due to our erroneous notions, such movements are withdrawn, held back and made inactive. But this goes against the grain of our true nature! So we rebel against the frustration we feel. Because instead of streaming out and reaching others, our essence is going backwards.

We cause many conflicts for ourselves with this basic rebellion. Sorry to say, these conflicts can’t be totally resolved just by finding our faults and unwinding our internal misunderstandings. True enough, our wounds created in childhood must be worked with and dissolved if we want to step into a new state of being.

But resolving our childhood conflicts is not the end goal. For if we stop there, we will fail in our mission of achieving deep self-fulfillment. The greater aim needs to be this: To transition from the self-centered state of isolation to living in a state of union with everyone and everything.

As part of this transition, we must come to see that we ourselves are an integral part of creation. And as such, it is our right to keep striving toward greater and greater fulfillment. There’s no limit to how far we can go.

Resolving our childhood conflicts is not the end goal.

The thing that blocks the great creative forces from streaming through us is us. Instead of developing all our capabilities and having health and strength, our outlook on life has gotten distorted. Not only do we have a wrong perspective on the real meaning of life, but our ignorance, confusion and lack of awareness all work to halt the vital flow of life-giving forces.

Only by adjusting our outlook—by developing more self-honesty, fixing our faults and straightening out our wrong thinking—will we be ready to make the Great Transition. Then, living in this new state, creative forces will naturally flow through us. They will reach out and touch others who are able to tune into them. At the same time, we will be continually renewed by the replenishing forces that will flow into us.

These words may sound abstract. But try to let them melt into you. Let them become a revelation for you. Then a new doorway will open through which you are longing to step. When this happens, you will be able to sense how long you have wanted to cross this portal. You will recognize how long you have been going through this battle that now brings you to this threshold.

Yet this is such a senseless struggle! The fact that what we’re reaping is unhappiness should alone prove that the direction we’ve been going is wrong. Now is the time to change direction. And our first steps must take us toward greater self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Everything arises from this.

Truly, we will never solve our problems unless we can envision going through this Great Transition.

May these words crack open a window in your soul.

–The Guide’s Wisdom in Jill Loree’s Words

Blessing from the Pathwork Guide

“With the special blessing of Christ who was love, and is love, and who will always be love, I leave you with strength and our love, and with our wishes that you may continue to struggle on this one path, this path of finding yourselves and developing yourselves to become the person you are meant to be.

For there is nothing more worthwhile and purposeful that you could possibly do, as long as you are truly honest with yourself. Self-honesty is the first step toward love. So be blessed, my dearest ones, be in peace, be in God!”

– Pathwork® Guide Lecture #75: The Great Transition in Human Development from Isolation to Union

Adapted from Pathwork Guide Lecture #75: The Great Transition in Human Development from Isolation to Union.

All essays in Get a Better Boat are available as podcasts.