The dark forces use a material that resembles fine, ray-like threads. These can be spun in such a way that they become full of tangles and knots.


I recently spent some lovely summer days with family at my parent’s cabin in Northern Wisconsin. During our visit, we got to enjoy a much-loved Packers-Vikings football game together. Fortunately, with family living on both sides of the Wisconsin-Minnesota border, such a spirited game brings out the good sport in everyone.

Our pre-game activity involved reconfiguring the cabin furniture, returning it to its original layout. Because a different layout had been tried and nearly everyone disliked it. As my brother, Jeff, quipped while moving and remounting the TV screen: “Wisdom comes from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”

How can we tell a bad decision from a good one? Bad decisions tend to create friction.

Why friction is good

Over time, we are all becoming more and more spiritually developed (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly). As a result, humanity will gradually become more and more unified. Eventually, according to the Pathwork Guide, different races won’t even exist. The Guide postulates that in about 1500 years, we will notice the effect of our development in the way our nations, religions and races will have so few remaining differences.

This will be a sign showing how far we have grown through improving our self-knowing. It will be a sign of how unified we have become within ourselves. But for now, people have their differences.

“Differences will exist as long as disunity exists on Earth and humanity has not learned to overcome it. As any difficulty or apparent disadvantage can be a cure, which it must be if the person is on the right path, advantage can be a cure, too.

“Through differences of race, religion, nationality, or various other categories, humanity can become stronger and advance faster in spiritual development precisely because frictions exist. Without friction, development can never proceed.

“It is only a question of how the difficulty is met, always; how is it met individually and collectively.”

– Pathwork® Guide Q&A #25 on Races

Let’s talk about tests

When there are storms in our life, we are being tested. With this understanding, it’s possible to face into storms and approach them with more awareness. Often, tests come in the form of a person. For nearly every group of people—whether a family, a community, or a team of co-workers—will include at least one person who is there to test everyone else.

This person will still be so low in their development they easily become a plaything for dark forces. That doesn’t mean the person is evil. No, it’s enough that such a person—despite having some very good qualities—does not have much self-honesty.

They don’t strive to align with the truth of their own inner self. And therefore the dark forces have easy access to influencing them. In other words, with our lack of self-discipline and lack of self-awareness, the dark forces have everything they need to create chaos.

Chaos, tangles and knots

The dark forces use a material that resembles fine, ray-like threads. But because truth and awareness are lacking, these rays are dull in color and texture. These threads can be spun in such a way that they become full of tangles and knots. Eventually, such a tight ball of confusion forms that it becomes incredibly hard to unravel it.

But the materials for confusion don’t only come from the person low in development. Everyone involved also contributes their share. They furnish their own mistakes and weaknesses, in the areas where they too violate spiritual laws. This is how life goes, as we keep spinning more and more of the same somber yarn.

Until no one can figure out what’s the truth anymore.

Untangling the threads

The truth can be hard to sort out. This is also true for those who are further along on their path, and whose sight is therefore clearer. Often, it takes tremendous effort to discover the truth that’s gotten buried under mounds of confusion. It’s hard to know how to even behave in the middle of such tests.

After all, the dark forces are clever. They know, all too well, how to make an untruth look like a truth, and how to make a truth to look like an untruth. They know how make us think that something evil is good, and that something good is evil.

And so we get confused. This even happens to those who want to be in truth, who are striving to develop higher levels of spiritual awareness. For we’re all still human, with our own issues to work out. When we lack the clarity to perceive what’s really happening, we don’t know how to unravel chaotic situations. So we may inadvertently darken a difficult situation some more.

Parting the clouds

The only way to help part the clouds—to help see the truth—is for us to become schooled in developing our own self-awareness. For if that is not our conscious intention, we too will become playthings of dark forces. Our boat will be tossed around by the waves, and we will no longer be able to steer our life. Or at least not as well as we could.

But let’s say we are really willing to make an effort to see the truth. We want to get to the core of any problem. Even with the best of intentions, none of us can part the heavy clouds by ourselves. We need the guidance of those who have gone this way before us.

We need to learn what to do, and also what not to do. And we can do this best by embarking on a spiritual path such as the one given to humanity by the Pathwork Guide. Then we will develop the discipline to go into our inner stillness—even when wild storms are raging all around us—and connect with God within. This is also the way to contact the forces of light, which are God’s divine spirits.

Main steps on a spiritual path

Walking a spiritual path is the way to open ourselves to truthful inspiration from within. Then, from this new vantage point, we will be able to observe our faults and overcome our resistance. Our development will follow certain steps.

Starting out, we will do well to control our actions. This is the level humanity was at when we received the Ten Commandments. At that time, “thou shalt not lie” and “thou shalt not steal” were a big ask. Even today, many people are still at this beginning level of development.

As we develop control over our behavior, we must also learn to cultivate our thoughts and feelings. At the time Christ came to Earth, we were ready to understand that our inner thoughts and feelings contribute to events in our outer lives. That we could “sin” in our thoughts and attitudes, as well as in our deeds.

Then we move onto understanding and unwinding our emotions, which is the most difficult level. Only when we are at a higher level of development will we be able to penetrate into these deeper levels of reality.

Why working with emotions is hard

Correcting our actions may be fairly straightforward. But the deeper reasons for our sideways behaviors are harder to untangle. For many of our feelings have become buried in our unconscious. So we feel them, but don’t understand their origin. This means we must work diligently—using both our willpower and our patience—to make them conscious.

Even then, we can’t control our feelings as directly or as immediately as we can our thoughts and actions. Yet if we continue to deceive ourselves about our real feelings, there will continue to be conflict within ourselves and with others, and we will become lost. For we will never be able to steer our little boat effectively if we refuse to discover the true origin of our conflicts.

First, we must make the effort to sort out and clean up our thoughts. Then we must make the unpleasant and often painful discovery that our unconscious feelings and beliefs don’t match our conscious thinking.

This, friends, is exactly what it means to do spiritual work. We must untangle our hidden twisted threads. And this is neither simple nor quick to do. If we keep at it, though, we will eventually master the ability to know the truth, even when the seas are surging. Even when—and maybe especially when—we are in the middle of a test.

Through our persistent efforts to head in the right direction, we will eventually scatter the clouds. We will untangle the ball of threads and unravel the knots of our life one by one. The extra effort this requires is exactly the effort that God wants us all to be making.

Bringing clarity helps everyone

These tangles and knots create an actual spiritual form that surrounds groups of people. As mentioned, everyone contributes their share to these tangles, which the dark forces so masterfully tempt us to create. And yes, there is usually one person who adds more to the confusion than most.

But what if someone decides to take the spiritual high road? If they begin to gradually loosen one knot, and then another. Eventually, when there are no more knots, everything becomes clear. The beauty of making such an effort toward true clarity is that it helps even the weaker people to stop deceiving themselves.

Of course, at first there will be resistance by such people, as they cling to their Lower Self ways. But if we keep doing our own work, we will keep bringing forward more and more truth. And truth has a way of illuminating things with its clarity.

This is something we all can be doing. Instead of taking the path of least resistance—which is always the path of the Lower Self—we can seek to enlighten situations that are cloaked in shadow. We can do this by making the effort to gain clarity inside ourselves, working at whatever level we’re at.

Being of service

If we’re more advanced in our spiritual development, we will more readily disentangle the knots surrounding us. And this will naturally help clear up situations where there’s confusion. Being of service in this way will keep cycles of happiness open and flowing.

So then more light—more guidance and grace—will keep flowing into us. Because a person with this kind of intention—being of service in restoring divine laws—is worthy of receiving special help from the divine.

“Yes, my dear ones, few people think this way. They go to God and make wishes and demands, but they are not willing to give anything to God’s world, to the great struggle which is so crucial. Think about this, all of you.

“All who approach God in this way can be given more light and help to disentangle the knots and to have the strength to steer their little boat well, even through a storm, so that they come through it strengthened and enlightened, as is the will of God.”

– Pathwork Guide Lecture #1: The Sea of Life

If we are able to courageously face ourselves, time and time again—overcoming our own mountain of pride in the process—then we will gain a true perspective about others and outer situations. And we can use our understanding to help untangle the knots we’ve made with others.

But if we stay blind to our own truth, we’ll also remain blind to the truth of others. And then we’ll remain lost, drifting aimlessly in the sea.

–Jill Loree

Adapted from Pathwork Guide Lecture #1: The Sea of Life

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