What if we could have our own experiences that would reveal the truth to us. So then believing wouldn’t be necessary because we would have our own knowing.

What if we could have our own experiences that would reveal the truth to us. So then believing wouldn’t be necessary because we would have our own knowing.

Reading the long-winded but well-considered treatise Why We All Need Philosophy by Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, got me thinking: Are the Pathwork teachings—and in turn, my Phoenesse writings—essentially a philosophy? Perhaps yes. For according to Manson, “Philosophy is the inquiry into our understanding of reality, knowledge, and how we should live.” Indeed, that describes the Pathwork teachings to a “T”. And believing isn’t part of the program.

As he skillfully weaves together a brief history of philosophy, Manson touches on the work of David Hume, who in Manson’s view “demolished the idea of cause/effect and or the assumption that we can predict anything at all.” Since the reality of cause-and-effect is one of the basic tenets of the Pathwork Guide’s teachings, this intrigued me.

“Bear with me here,” writes Manson, “as this might sound insane. Hume said, logically speaking, that it is impossible to prove that anything will occur in the future, no matter how often or how regularly it has occurred in the past. If the sun has risen in the east every day for millions of years, that still doesn’t prove it will rise again in the east tomorrow. It simply makes it insanely probable that it will rise in the east.”

It’s hard to imagine a time when people had to rely on believing the sun would rise each morning. That the sun rising daily in the past was all they had to go on. It’s future rising couldn’t be proven, so people had no choice but to believe it would.

Understanding means knowing

Isn’t this what Christian religions do? They ask us to believe in something, without any proof. But what if we could have our own experiences that would reveal the truth to us? Then believing wouldn’t be necessary because we would have our own knowing.

That is basically what’s happened in the case of the sun rising. We no longer believe “the sun rises in the east,” because that’s simply not what’s going on. We now have proof—thanks to some very smart people who built a little rocket ship to go see for themselves—that in fact the Earth is turning, and the sun is sitting in a relatively fixed position. We’re the ones in motion. And as long as this planet keeps spinning, we’re going to see the sun again tomorrow morning.

Not once has the sun actually ever “risen,” even though it appears that way to us. And now we know the truth of the matter. In the case of sunshine, then, we have a collective knowing about how this works. We understand now, so there’s nothing we must believe. Cause-and-effect is solid.

In the case of Pathwork, and now Phoenesse, we can have a similar experience. We can look within and uncover the reason for the patterns in our lives. We don’t have to wait for the stars to align. We can start doing our work today, and then one day we’ll understand ourselves.

The truth about what we believe

Manson goes on to say that one thing the world’s great philosophers have uncovered is that we can’t believe everything we believe to be true. This is much like the philosophy of the Pathwork Guide—and therefore also of Phoenesse—which says: We believe many things—in our unconscious mind—that are untrue. But since we aren’t aware of them, we don’t think to question whether they are true.

And yet our life will reflect our hidden untrue beliefs. Any time we say we want a certain thing—a relationship, job, car, experience, whatever—and we don’t have it, then somewhere deep down inside us we don’t want it. Or we fear getting it. And make no mistake, we all have unconscious beliefs that are the opposite of what we say we believe.

This is how human consciousness—including the unconscious—works. It’s a reliable dial that points, without fail, to our hidden inner problem areas. It’s this piece about the unconscious that so many are blind to. And it makes us unsure about what to believe.

Unconscious untrue beliefs bring us back

When Descartes landed on his preeminent realization, “I think; therefore I am,” he was equating his conscious ability to think to proving his existence. Yet ironically, it’s what we unconsciously believe that’s responsible for our many return visits to circle the sun.

Each lifetime we’re given another chance to see the unconscious misconceptions—the mistaken beliefs—we’re holding onto. And if we look at our life in the right light, we can start to see what we’ve lost sight of. By doing our personal work of self-knowing, we can start to slowly excavate our own inner landscape.

And that’s when we’ll discover something truly revolutionary: This—our own wrong beliefs—is the source of all our conflicts. Here are the untrue conclusions we’ve drawn about life—along with the pain associated with those mistaken beliefs—and so here is the magnet attracting more of that same pain.

Said another way: Here are my hidden untrue beliefs that make me behave in ways that make them appear to be true. It’s only by realizing that we are somehow responsible for what’s happening in our lives that we start to say: Oh, I see.

And once we become clearer about our life, this world starts making more sense.

Shifting our world view

Unfortunately, we won’t have a once-in-a-lifetime epiphany and be all better. We’ll need to dig into all the nooks and crannies of the whole ancient city that’s buried down there in our unconscious. But if we persevere—if we unearth all the faulty bits of immature logic and find every uncomfortable feeling we’ve been avoiding—we’ll come to an entirely new view of this world.

Then we’ll move from believing we could someday be happy and free, to knowing freedom is our undeniable destiny. For we’re not meant to be miserable. But with so much discontent hidden in our unconscious, it can’t be otherwise.

Cause-and-effect is alive and well, friends, and it doesn’t miss a beat. Every disharmony in our lives can be traced back to an origin. And it always begins within us. This is an ironclad truth. In fact, cause-and-effect is as reliable as our knowing we’ll see the sun again tomorrow. Because that’s how this world works.

And just like the people who journey into space, proving it’s so, we can journey within. We can discover for ourselves that if we follow every disharmony far enough, we’ll see it in a different light. We can see for ourselves how our own inner darkness—and any associated untrue belief we’ve locked away in our unconscious—colors our lives.

Truly, our own inner darkness is the cause of our existence as human beings. But also know this: We have the ability to overcome it.

–Jill Loree

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