Like colorful mandalas, we’re each a unique design, yet we’re all making the same journey inward.

Like colorful mandalas, we’re each a unique design, yet we’re all making the same journey inward.


At one time or another, most of us have felt lost. We feel like we’ve gone missing. What we’re really missing is our own inner light. And what we’re lost in is the illusion of duality. But telling someone they are lost in illusion will not help them one iota in becoming found. What we need for finding ourselves is a map.

The basic shape of the map of the psyche is a mandala. In general, a mandala represents a spiritual journey. Starting from the outside, we travel through the layers to reach the inner core. Of course, there as many mandala designs as there are people. So in a sense, we are each a unique colorful mandala, created with a very specific design. Yet in the end, we are all alike in that we are making the same journey inward.

And where are we all heading? What’s the destination? To find the light at the center of our soul. This is the human journey, created by the human condition. In other words, our goal is to reach our core and let our particular light shine. Some traditions call this reaching for enlightenment. But to get there, we’ll need to overcome a few obstacles along the way.

Unhealed ego: Runs, denies, avoids, escapes (addictions)
Waking up ego: Starts paying attention
Shame: Feel need to hide
Mask of perfection: Ineffective strategy to get love
Defenses (Mask): Attacks • Submits • Withdraws
Little-L lower self
: “I can’t”
Big-L lower self: “I won’t”
Healthy ego: Surrenders
Higher Self: I am light

What must we face?

Here’s the set-up. We all come into the world totally helpless, making it perfectly natural that babies can only receive. And if we could just stop there, things might end up OK. But in fact, it’s not just that children are wired to only receive. They also want to receive all the time, in the very best way, and to always have their way.

And this, friends, is impossible.

For one thing, all children have parents or guardians who are imperfect. Even the most well-meaning parents are simply not capable of giving 100% pure love. Second, this world has limits, so having good boundaries is important. Which means children can’t have their way all the time.

Introducing the reality of life on planet Earth.

This world rests on a foundation of duality. This means there are both good and bad forces here. So good parenting must involve setting boundaries. Then, as we grow up, we must each learn the difference between what’s “good” and what’s “bad”. And it isn’t always obvious. You could even say the human experience is all about learning to discern and make better choices.

Right from the start, we are set up for struggle. No one gets it right.

Fast forward a few decades, and now we’re adults. And yet we’re languishing. The only way out of this quagmire is for humanity to come to understand why we are here. What is the point of being human? How do we turn things around?

Living in the land of hiding

In the Spirit World, where spiritual language is quite different from our human language, they have a name for this sphere we call Earth. The name implies that Earth is a sphere of disconnection, a dimension of fragmented awareness. That there are holes in our awareness. And these interruptions create missing links in our awareness of what’s happening in our lives. These gaps, then, often mislead us and distort our understanding of reality.

All of us are blind to certain things. And the thing we are most unaware of is the landscape of our own inner selves. And that’s why we’ve lost ourselves.

For one thing, we often don’t know the true depth of our magnificent Higher Self. So we don’t deeply know how much we each matter. We also don’t yet realize our positive essential qualities and may still be acting them out in a distorted way. Further, we don’t yet see that we have everything we need, deep inside. That we’re enough.

Becoming vulnerable and imperfect

One thing we’ll need to work on is becoming vulnerable. We must learn to let people see us—including letting us see our own selves—even if at first what we’ll find are our Lower Self faults. But our faults are nothing more than aspects we are here to convert back to their underlying goodness. We can even consider asking our close friends or family members to help us see our faults, so we can work with them. (Trust me, they already see them, and might appreciate a chance to help us see them as well.)

To get to these darker, denser Lower-Self layers, we’ll also need to see how pretending to be perfect is actually part of the problem. The root of perfectionism stems from our desire to be approved of and loved. Our mistaken belief is that if we’re perfect, then we’ll have everything. In truth, it never works that way.

First, on this dualistic plane, perfection doesn’t exist. Remember, good is always a package deal with bad. Second, what we’ll learn is that being vulnerable and real will take us much further on our path. Trying to be perfect will only keep us chasing our tail. And judging ourselves for our imperfections only hampers our progress.

The two stages of healing

There are two stages we must travel through on a spiritual path of healing. In the first stage, we’re clearing away our inner obstacles. This includes a long list of negativity such as our rebelliousness, destructiveness, resistance and defiance. We also have buried misunderstandings to unearth and frozen blocks of energy to release. There’s much work to do.

The part of ourselves that orchestrates the healing process is our ego. In fact, what we need to develop is an ego that is strong enough to eventually let go of itself.

Unhealthy letting go into addiction

Holding back, holding on and not letting go are classic moves of an ego that hasn’t yet cleared away our Lower Self obstacles. Such an unhealthy ego refuses to give up control, believing that letting go means death for the ego. In reality, letting go is the intended design of the ego.

But we must learn to let go in the right way. The idea is let go into our own deep connection with the truth, including the truth of who we are. This is not a one-time event, but something we must practice doing over and over until dying into the truth of each moment is our natural movement. This how we truly learn to live.

What happens if the ego tries to let go without first doing the work of self-realization? It will let go in an unhealthy way. This is the fundamental reason for addictions. On any spiritual path of self-enlightenment, we must first clear up our addictions before we can make any true progress. For they are an escape from doing the work of healing, and not a path to freedom.

Addictions are traps that keeps us locked out of our own divinity. As such, additions will never, ever get us to where we truly want to go.

Interestingly, people with addictions often partner with people who won’t let go, who won’t give up ego control. With such an unhealthy ego, there will also be a tendency to alternate between these two wrong extremes. For left to its own devices, the ego doesn’t have many levers it can pull. But addiction and codependency are definitely not the right levers to be playing with.

The right way to let go

In the second stage of our healing work, the ego must actively work to surrender and align with the guidance that flows from within. Whereas we need others to help us with the first stage—for our lack of awareness prevents us from seeing ourselves in truth—we must do the second stage by ourselves.

“If we want to learn to trust God, we will need to travel through some interim self-created states of mind. But as so often happens, we are hoping we can avoid what we ourselves have created, including pain, confusion, emptiness and fear. Nonetheless, these are the things we’re going to need to embrace so we can come to understand them on our way to dissolving them…

“Often the thing that limits our wish fulfillment is our insistence that fulfillment can only come in one specific way. But if we let the creative process have some rope and margin, we’ll experience that it by far surpasses what we hoped for or could visualize. Our ego mind can hardly conceive of the richness of the universe. We need to learn to empty ourselves in the moment so the divine can reveal itself to us. This is what it means to “let God”…

“The key to creating an open energy system is letting go into trust. But we can’t get there in one giant step. We must lay down some intermediate links, without skipping steps along the way. These links will build a bridge to having genuine, positive expectations about life free from pressure, anxiety and doubt. We’ll develop a deep faith in a kind and caring universe where we can have the very best, in every possible way. What a valuable key.”

Pearls, Chapter 17: Discovering the Key to Letting Go & Letting God

Getting unstuck

The reason we’re languishing is that we’re stuck. And this, folks, is the human condition. For the Lower Self of each person is stuck in some way, as well as being numb, rigid and unchanging. Such qualities are what the Lower Self uses to build inner walls that create our self-made prison.

“This is one of the very best reasons to embark upon a spiritual path: to gain personal freedom from the chains of our inner distortions. For it’s when we won’t take responsibility for our own issues that we lock ourselves in chains. And then we claim someone else holds the key. That’s how we cut off our own freedom.

“What we must realize is that there’s a fair and natural price we must pay for liberty. It’s self-responsibility. And the more we avoid it, the higher the toll becomes…

“It’s our desire to dodge self-responsibility that results in our lack of understanding, our lopsided discernment and our inability to weigh the good from the bad. So it’s our attempts to escape and deceive ourselves that keep us stuck.”

Spiritual Laws, Chapter 17: Being Affected

Over time, we will resolve what’s blocking our light. To do this, we must:

  • Drop our defenses
  • Develop the right kind of selfish
  • Overcome our hate, spite and greed
  • Uncover and dispense with half-truths
  • Stop hiding and keeping secrets
  • Let go of control
  • Move from me versus you, to me and you
  • Tackle our “no” to life
  • Release the wrong kind of shame

“As we do the work of self-finding, we steadily march our way toward personal freedom. And while ultimately we all are capable of enjoying total freedom, our freedom will start out limited since we must journey through the results of what we have created. Indeed, we can’t skip past hardship now when our past actions and attitudes have been based on illusion and are therefore destructive.

“But buck up, for we do possess the complete freedom to now choose the attitudes that lead us to our self-produced fate. When we see that all our hurdles have been of our own making—a direct result of our inner distortions—we have the information we need to prevent recycling the same, and maybe worse, experiences. In this way, our stumbling blocks become our steppingstones.”

Spiritual Laws, Chapter 24: Creating

The way out

An overview of doing the work of healing

Something triggers an emotional reaction Bring reason to our emotions to discover the cause
Come out of blame and being a victim Take responsibility for seeing cause and effect
in you
Pray & meditate to see the truth Use mature ego to connect with Higher Self
Find the image Clearly express the statement of the belief
Release residual pain Feel the pain of unmet needs
Find the duality See the misconception and open to seeing reality
Feel and unwind the forcing current Or find the collapse into hopelessness
Recognize faults Reveal the triad of pride, fear and self-will
Connect with negative pleasure Discover the pleasure in being destructive
Transform negative intention Find where you need to give
Search for a no-current Find faulty thinking that undermines fulfillment
Uncover real needs Pray and meditate to connect with your longing
Impress soul substance with new awareness Re-educate the inner child with the truth
Pray for healing Let divine energy fill and heal the wound



Therapy versus a spiritual path

The work of personal healing is largely what people are doing in all the various forms of therapy available today. A key difference between therapy and a spiritual path is that therapy is usually a limited-time treatment for dealing with a particular life problem. A spiritual path, on the other hand, deals with any and all disharmonies in life. Because all our problems in life are pointing us toward our inner work.

Both, however, are valid and effective vehicles for working through the first stage of our personal healing work. And we’re never too old to start. After all, there is no other reason for the human experience than transforming our negativity and getting to know our true selves.

Key aspects of the spiritual journey

All is one

The Fall
Use our free will to experience negative aspects of divine qualities; Descent into dark spheres caused masculine-feminine split along with inner splits and fractures in psyche.

The Plan of Salvation
The plan that gives us a path for escaping the darkness and returning to God, if we choose; Now we can save ourselves.

We take on a task to heal a certain aspect of our negativity in this lifetime.

Main soul split is transferred onto parents.

Mask Self: Defenses

Outer layer of our mask that wants to hide our inner distortions from ourselves and others.

Idealized Self-Image

Mask of perfection is designed to compensate for missing self-esteem and bring love: “If I am perfect, then I will be loved.

We choose a strategy for avoiding pain and getting our way: Aggression, Submission or Withdrawal.

Little-L Lower Self: “I can’t”

Needs Not Met
Child wants 100% perfect, exclusive love and to always have its way; Due to the nature of reality, this results in feelings of rejection and frustration, which make the child feel inferior.

Wrong conclusions about self, others and life are generalized and go into the unconscious.

Resistance to painful feelings creates frozen blocks of energy and consciousness, which are held in the psyche and show up in the body.

Big-L Lower Self: “I won’t”

Inner Critic
Internalized voice of parents becomes cruel to self.

Lower Self uses various faulty ways to overcome its fear of humiliation (fear) and feelings of inferiority (pride); It wants to win and won’t let others off the hook (self-will).

Negative Pleasure
Pleasure current has gotten attached to pain during childhood; Life force is later activated through destructiveness.

Negative Intention
Lower Self resists giving or giving in; Uses Images to justify this; Stays stuck and therefore stays in separation.

Hidden faulty belief says No to fulfillment, making Yes-current frantic and ineffective.

Vicious Circles
Negative patterns are continually recreated, resulting in pain, hate, shame, guilt and self-punishment.

Higher Self: “I can’t do it alone”

We must bring all this into conscious awareness; Call on God to help correct wrong thinking, release unfelt pain, re-educate the inner child, and visualize a new reality based on truth; We must find our hidden No to life and transform it.

Activate the greater consciousness within.

Continually, consciously surrender to God; Experience self as one with all.

– Jill Loree

Guidance for Getting Started

“Let us all become very still, and I will say the words, and inside of you try to go along with these words: Be still and know I am God, the ultimate power. Listen to this power within, to this presence and to these intentions. I am God, everyone is God. God is all, in everything that lives and moves, that breathes and knows, that feels and is.

“God in me has the power to make the separated little ego know the ultimate power to integrate this ego. I have the possibility to feel all my feelings—to deal with and handle all my feelings. This possibility is there in me, and I know this potentiality can be realized the moment I know it. And I now choose to know I can be alive; Yes, I have the strength to be weak and vulnerable.

“I can accept my numbness now, my insecurities, my feeling state and my nonfeeling state. And I can listen into this state and wait. I can be still and feel into me. Also, I can be still and hear my superior intelligence, the God intelligence, instruct me. If I try, I can establish this contact.

“I will pay the price by giving the best I have and am to life. I will live my life honestly in wanting to give the best. For then I will be able to receive the best without cringing. I do not fear to invest the best of myself into life.”

– The Pathwork® Guide Q&A #201

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