As we slowly but surely make progress on our path, we set powerful spiritual forces into motion. And these generate new energy. We become more alive and more honest in our feelings and ability to relate. We “sacrifice” old reactive patterns and discover we don’t give up anything good, and yet we gain plenty. It’s hard to remain skeptical that these teachings are valid in the face of so much positive movement.

With our negative intention, we will punish life for what it's done to us. Crazy, right?
With our negative intention, we will punish life for what it’s done to us. Crazy, right?

As we become more tuned into reality, we catch on to a startling truth. That spirit is more real than anything we can see or feel. And the self-perpetuating nature of the positive spiritual energy we generate carries us further forward. Of course, even after we’ve made momentous strides, we’ll have some more darkness to deal with: undissolved negativities, defenses and resistance.

But as we plough ahead in our work, we’ll see our masks and distortions for the unreality that they are. And this awareness alone will go far in helping us give them up. For we can’t let go of something if we don’t know we have it. Or if we aren’t willing to express it.

At some point in our journey, we are going to run into a wall of our previously concealed but now plenty-conscious negative intentionality. Facing this is not quite the same as facing our Lower Self. That’s what we’ve been doing by looking at our character defects, our images and our destructive feelings, and facing them down.

As we now go forward in taking on our negative intention, it will be important to keep something new in mind. That in our mixed-up psyches, we unconsciously want whatever it is we fear. Further, whatever we experience, we also unconsciously want. All of these teachings are built upon these immutable facts. We need to keep this in mind when we come face-to-face with our basic attitude toward life that basically says No. Due to our No, we have no desire to give or to love. And we have no desire to contribute or to reach out. We also have no desire to receive or to live a fruitful life.

To our conscious, rational mind, this may sound totally nuts; we wish for nothing more and nothing less than every imaginable fulfillment. And yet, in a hidden corner of the psyche, we’re backpedalling like crazy. We want to hate and to be spiteful and to withhold—even if it makes us suffer.

Learning to recognize this fun-depriving part of our soul is paramount. And this is true, even if—and especially if—this is a tiny part of who we are. For we may have a whole lot of our inner being is in lockstep with true reality. That’s the good circles of self-perpetuating energy. But the bits that still remain negative will hold a magnetic power over us. And we make them stronger when we won’t consciously acknowledge them.

So much of the resistance we encounter—in ourselves and our companions—is due precisely to our not wanting to see that we have a senseless, destructive streak of negative intention in us. Weirdly, in spite of our knowing just how destructive and senseless it is, it still holds us in its grip. Our own negative intention makes us unwilling to give it up.

So when we do finally see it, it is not a tragedy. It’s a huge blessing. Now we can deal with the way we negate life by angling toward isolation and loneliness, toward lovelessness and hatefulness. We’d rather hold onto our spite and go on blaming some fate that has befallen “poor innocent me,” than to move from our position. Finding out that we’re the ones rooting ourselves in negative intention is an important cog in our wheel of spiritual evolution.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

Negative intention is not quite the same thing as negativity. When we speak of negativity, we’re talking about a wide range of faults and feelings. It includes our reality-distorting hate, hostility, envy, fear, pride, anger, and so on. But when we speak of negative intentionality, we’re talking about an intention to say No to life, and also to the self.

Regarding our negativity, we have the impression we can’t help being the way we are. Such as angry, hateful or cruel. With our negative intention, we are making a deliberate choice to act in a certain way. So our negative intention doesn’t happen to us—we chose it. So in our work, we need to connect all the dots that reveal that our life is a result of our own choices. Once we do this, we’ll discover on a very deep level that we are, in fact, free. If our life is now narrow and confining, it is because we are falling in line with our negative intention. And it will continue to go that way until we choose to change our course.

Now again, the conscious mind may think all of this is ludicrous. But rest assured, negative intention is a real thing. And it will take a concerted effort and a boatload of patience to weather the storm of this struggle. For we will need to overcome our resistance to dealing with this deep resistance. It won’t be enough to make some passing recognition and then leave it to itself to get sorted out.

This process of grappling with negative intentionality is much like going through a major life crisis. But if we can do it, it will signal a giant transition on our path. It’s never possible to turn such a profound corner easily.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

There are certain fundamental stages we will progress through as we come to see and transform our stubborn negative intention. We can start with having zero awareness that this is actually a thing. Initially, in fact, we won’t believe we could possibly be responsible for how our lives are turning out. Sure, we’ve got a few neurotic behaviors we don’t want to look at. But that doesn’t mean deep down we don’t want things to be different. Right?

After awhile, having done some deep work and gained some honest insight into ourselves, we will learn to accept all our feelings. We will grow stronger and more objective, and free up more of our life force. Then, whoops, we discover this negative intention toward every good thing in life.

If we dig around a bit, we’ll see there’s a one-to-one correlation between how frustrated we are about not attaining what we so ardently want, and how big our negative intention is. And this goes hand-in-hand with how disinclined we are to dealing with it. Don’t make too light of this. It’s tremendously tough to admit that we prefer to hang onto our denial and spite and hate, even if the price is that we suffer.

While sometimes it happens that our awareness of a destructive attitude makes it automatically disappear, this isn’t always the case. And there are reasons for this. For one thing, we may be afraid to let it go out of fear of the unknown, fear of pain, or fear of being humiliated or hurt; our negative attitudes are, after all, used as a defense against feeling our feelings. We also use them to void taking self-responsibility, or to reject life’s less-than-perfect circumstances.

The origin of all this life-negating behavior starts in childhood. We demand that our “bad parents” turn into “good parents,” and we intend to use our misery and a heaping dose of guilt to make this happen. With our negative intention, we will punish life for what it’s done to us. Crazy, right?

Even more absurd is that we hold onto this, even after we’ve become aware of it. Why would we do this? Because for the child inside us, this feels like the only way to preserve our selfhood. If this young, fragmented aspect of ourselves doesn’t resist letting go of this vengeance, it feels like we are giving up our life. To capitulate is to give up being an individual.

In our work, we learn about how inappropriate it is to carry into adulthood a position that was once valid, but no longer serves us. Now, in fact, it is downright destructive. And yet we do this all day long. There must be something even more powerful behind all this, beyond what we’ve uncovered already.

Exactly what is it that stops us from loving and instead makes us hate? That blocks us from giving our best to life, instead of giving up our withholding? That makes us remain spiteful even if we desire to give it up? Why won’t we reach out and give to life, and then equally receive the best life has to offer? It’s time to crack open this nut of our resistance.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

If we want to open up this bottleneck, we need to answer this question: What part of ourselves are we identifying with? For instance, if the only thing we identify with is our ego—the conscious part of us that thinks and does—there’s no chance we’ll be able to bring about a change that lies outside the providence of the limited ego; changing deep inner feelings and attitudes will simply not be possible. We’d need to identify with a broader and more effective part of ourselves—our spiritual self—to even believe in the possibility of making such a change.

The ego’s role is to support such profound change by committing itself to wanting the change, and by trusting that the involuntary spiritual self is well equipped to bring it about. Then it must get out of the way.

But if we have no identification with the spiritual self—our Higher Self or true inner essence—there will not be a necessary climate of trust, nor will there be the necessary no-pressure, positive expectation. And without this, we can’t even want it. For the surefire prospect of failure will show up just how powerless the ego really is, and that would just be too hard to take. The limited ego will save face by saying ‘I do not want it,’ long before it will admit ‘I cannot make it happen.’

So on the surface, we deny our ‘I won’t’ with ‘I can’t.’ In the deeper more subtle layers, this is reversed; it’s not that we can’t, it’s that we won’t—because the self hasn’t yet figured out a way to identify with the spirit. And the ego is fine with all this, simply because it doesn’t want to fess up to just how limited it really is.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

Identification can be either positive and therefore constructive, or it can be negative and therefore destructive, or at least obstructive. Oddly, it doesn’t track 100% that it’s always positive to identify with our Higher Self, and always negative to identify with our Lower Self. Identifying with either one could be healthy and desirable, or not. It all depends.

Like, if we identify with our Higher Self, or spirit self, but we haven’t yet come to terms with our Lower Self, our Mask Self, our defenses and dishonest devices, not to mention our negative intentionality, then we might well be escaping; our identification with our Higher Self will be an illusion. Under such circumstances, we won’t be having a genuine or truthful experience.

It will be akin to paying lip service to some nice philosophy that we believe in, purely on the intellectual level. It’s great for us to know that we are a divine manifestation of God, with the unlimited power needed to change ourselves and transform our lives. For this is indeed true. But when this kind of identification conveniently sidesteps the parts of ourselves that require our candid scrutiny, it’s only a half-truth.

Likewise, our identification with our Lower Self can be a good thing, or a not-so-good thing. Perhaps the best way to put it is like this: It’s one thing for us to observe and identify our Lower Self—or our Mask Self, for that matter—but it’s quite another thing to identify with it. When we become identified with our Lower Self, we mistakenly believe that’s all there is to us. But if we’re able to identify it, watch it, admit to it and tackle it, then we don’t get sucked into believing that this is all of who we are.

Think about it. If this were all of us, we wouldn’t be able to spot it and evaluate it, analyze it and alter it. In truth, the part of us that is doing all this watching is certainly more in charge than the part that is being watched. It has more power and is more real—not so caught in untruthful distortions.

The minute we are able to identify some aspect of ourselves—some good, bad or indifferent behavior, thought or attitude—the identifying part is more us than the part being identified. The observer is more real and more in charge than the observed. This is a powerful distinction we must learn to make.

Once we start to identify our Mask Self and our Lower Self, along with our negative intentionality and our dishonest games, all the energy that has been put into the service of denial will now be available to bring us the truth. The result: we will now have room for experiencing real feelings, which of course includes the pain that we have worked so hard to deny. But when we can truly feel all our feelings—and here’s the really good part—we can identify with our Higher Self.

Long story short, the Lower Self should be identified, and the Higher Self, or spiritual self, should be identified with. Who makes this identification? The ego, which must become strong enough to give itself up voluntarily so that it integrates with the Higher Self.

People are generally split in their identifications, so it’s not true that someone will either be entirely identified with their Lower Self or no longer at all. We’re all a mixed bag. Certain aspects of the self are already free, and here we may sense a deep spiritual identification. In other areas, unfelt feelings make us feel submerged in Lower Self aspects, and we fear this is our only reality. In yet another area, we may have over-identified with our ego and believe it’s the only valid part of us that functions reliably.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

Wherever we’re not identified with our Higher Self, we’ll find it impossible to get past our senseless negative will. For if a secret identification with the Lower Self exists—even though admittedly it’s only a partial identification—giving up our cruel and destructive ways will seem like self-annihilation. Since this unreal Lower Self seems so real—based largely on our fear of it being killed off—then the other real Higher Self parts must seem unreal—maybe even phony. This seems even more true when we use an actual phony veneer, or Mask Self, to cover our Lower Self. And we wonder why we’re confused.

In this scenario, giving up our hateful, spiteful, negative intention would be like giving up our very being. How can we possibly risk it? Even if we’re promised that joy and fulfillment will follow, it’s not worth the sacrifice. And who would even benefit from this supposed joy? It would seem to be someone other than who we know ourselves to be. What good would that do us if pleasure and abundance and self-respect go to someone else? This is the second most difficult part to overcome.

The first most difficult part is making a commitment to finding out the truth about who we really are. This requires us to observe our thoughts and feelings, owning up to them on every level. From there, we must push on to figuring out how to extricate ourselves from our identification with our Lower Self.

Our refusal to let go of our Lower Self is rooted in our misplaced will to live. We’re caught up in the illusion that there is nothing more beyond our most negative aspects. When our destructiveness rears its ugly head, we feel energized—and real—and we fear giving up this evil and settling for numbness and deadness. But in reality, if we would stop denying this distorted energy, we could reconvert it to its original vibrant condition.

Our resistance to giving up the parts of ourselves we hate the most is caused by our wrong identification. Yes, we’re obstinate and spiteful, but that’s not the crux of the problem. These only harden our position, further entrenching our fear of annihilation, and strengthening the self-perpetuating circles of negativity. Our world gets smaller, and the worst in us seems to be our reality. Folks, it’s time to snap out of it.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

We’ve been living our lives inside a paper-bag confinement that’s become a powerful prison of suffering. How can work our way out? First, we need to question if this is all of who we are. “Is it true that if I give up my negative intention, my reality will cease?” Just asking this question will open a door. And even before answers come—and come they must, following spiritual law—we can realize that the part of us asking the question is already beyond who we feared we were.

At this stage, we’ve already started building a bridge that we will use to walk out of this construct. From there, we listen for a voice that answers in a new way, beyond the Lower Self we thought we had to protect. Now keep asking questions, with good will and in good faith.

The Lower Self derives its identity from being negative; start to identify it and observe it. This makes us the observer, not the one who is being observed, taking us one step away from our old habitual experience. Let’s say we’ve grown accustomed to being haughty and cold. Giving up our contemptuous attitude would feel like we were dying. But what would we be dying into? Our true self, where our real feelings and our real being are. If we are willing to feel our feelings, whatever they may be, we will know who we are. If we’re not willing, we’ll remain hard and stiff and limited. The choice is ours.

Don’t hope for an overnight conversion. Bliss will not be our first experience. Some of our unfelt real feelings might be quite painful. But the pain of feeling them will be night-and-day better than what we’re experiencing now. And the flow of our bottled up feelings will carry us to a better state, just like the river of life itself.

The release valve on the dam of our feelings is our commitment to being in truth. What do we really think and feel, right now? The first answers might not yet come from the Higher Self. We might not get magical revelations or mystical visions. In fact, the first answers might come from our logical mind. Thanks for playing the game.

But if we learn to use what we already have at our disposal in a new way, we can open to new possibilities. We could try on positive intentionality for size. What do we have to lose? Maybe it could be interesting, even desirable. We can play with new thoughts, weighing new options and pouring some creative alternatives into our thinking apparatus. How exciting.

There’s no obligation to buy—just try on something different. Open up the windows on a very narrowly defined mindset. We can always exert our right to go back to exactly where we were. Honestly. We can make that choice. So the risk of assessing a new thought-direction is low.

Why not check out what happens if we set a positive intention into motion. We can give ourselves some freedom and build a bigger bridge to greater expansion of the self. Remember, we can go back if we don’t like it. We can become calm and listen inside. And then we’ll start to perceive an ever-present voice of truth; the voice of God.

With time, this voice will get louder and we’ll hear it more often. We’ll come to realize that everything already exists; there is nothing that we are not. Seriously. This may sound far off, but it’s not as far away as we might imagine. It’s actually as close as our next heartbeat.

Bones: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

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Read Original Pathwork® Lecture: #195 Identification and Intentionality: Identification with the Spiritual Self to Overcome Negative Intentionality