Lecture 127 – Four Evolutionary Stages – Automatic Reactions, Awareness, Understanding and Knowing | Abbreviated Version

P1             The lowest phase of human consciousness is automatism. In this phase people respond according to automatic reflexes—emotional reactions based on deeply imprinted wrong conclusions and generalizations. The more you are liberated in some areas of your personality, the more you try to rationalize and explain such blind reactions, to make yourself believe that they are based on freedom of choice, rather than on compulsion; on reason, rather than emotionalism.

Blind automatism is always the result of unwillingness to face certain material. This applies to everyone, to some much more than to others. The next phase on this scale of evolution is awareness, but awareness is by no means the highest stage. But let us first look into the meaning of awareness. Awareness must be, in this context, concerned with uncovering blind reflexes. All subterfuges, rationalizations, explanations, justifications, self-deceptions, serving to deny automatism, must be ruthlessly exposed, investigated and given up, until you are face to face with the blind reflex itself.

P2             It goes against your vanity, for you like to see yourself more evolved and freer than you are. Awareness means acknowledgement of one’s limitations, facing wrong conclusions, destructive emotions, self-defeating devices, lack of integrity in the widest possible sense. In proportion to how much awareness you gain, blind reflexes cease, and you reach understanding. Let us take the example of hostility, (in blind automatism, in awareness and in understanding): The highest phase on this particular scale is knowing. There is a great difference between understanding and knowing.

Understanding means ascertaining the causes and effects of negative patterns, destructive emotions, and false ideas. It means understanding that these elements are damaging because one is somehow immersed in illusion and misconception. But this understanding is not the same as knowing. When you know the truth, you more than understand the cause and effect of images and misconceptions. You know what the right conclusions are behind the wrong ones. It (knowing the truth) means becoming aware of blind reflexes; understanding why they exist and what they cause; knowing the truth behind the automatism caused by specific misconceptions.

P4             Understanding brings a relief from tension, fear, and anxiety. It infuses hope: not wishful thinking, not escape or daydreaming of a vaguely hoped for miracle bringing salvation, but realistic hope, justified because a clear way presents itself, a concrete possibility, for choosing liberation. In the evolution of one single point of knowing there comes a moment when it becomes all-knowing; for all creation converges into one point. The manifold ends in unity, comprising all the many parts. Some of my friends have made first steps toward the threshold of knowing; they can now cross it. Others will follow later. It does not matter when.

You must not measure who is ahead. You cannot ever measure yourself against another. You must find your own inner measurements forget comparisons. The moment you know the truth behind the illusion, split concepts begin to mend; psychic upsets begin to balance; confusion, disorder, conflict, make way for order and unity. This creates realistic, benign, constructive feelings, concepts, opinions, and corresponding actions. Change has taken place, because it is no longer resisted. It is now welcome instead of frightening. Really knowing the truth clears the fog; it unifies apparent contradictions and proves that there is nothing to fear.

Dissensions are reconciled, sickness healed, and growth overcomes stagnation; calm prevails where frantic unrest created excessive movement. When you deal with your fellow humans and are confused about their actions and motives, disharmony is created. Even if you refrain from quarreling, your not knowing what motivates them creates a cloud of unrest, darkness, disharmony, which even the most insensitive can distinctly feel. When you truly know what motivates others, however, you can emanate a calm knowingness, which must have an effect, whether or not you speak about it; whether or not you bring what you know to another person’s attention.

Your knowing the truth behind the other person’s confusing actions will enable you intuitively and spontaneously to judge when to speak and when to be quiet, how to speak and how to be quiet. Merely understanding others’ motives—their truth—will not give you this faculty. Your merely understanding is certainly better than no understanding, but it does not prevent you from blundering in certain ways.

P5             Such knowingness can come only through attaining it for yourself, from yourself, through yourself, and within yourself. This is the battle that leads from blind reflexes that every single human being is governed by—even those of my friends who are already on this path—to awareness, by degrees; to understanding, by degrees; to knowingness—at first in isolated instances. But where illusion and false concepts create duality, an imbalance comes into being: control exists where it should be released, and letting go where control is needed.

Misunderstood and misapplied control consists of selfwill, forcing-current, childish greed, the inability to stand frustration, fearful withdrawal, tension, the compulsive need to manipulate, the inability to lose. But all spiritual principles, when clothed in the limitation of the human language, appear as contradictions. For every divine law contains two complementing principles—the masculine and the feminine principles—in the widest possible sense. They do not exclude one another but coexist in every part of life.

P6             A similar confusion exists concerning self-centeredness versus other-centeredness. Selfcenteredness can be childish self-importance in which you expect the whole world to revolve around you. People hinge all their opinions, goals, ideas, ideals, and even feelings on what others proclaim—or what they think the world expects them to be. This other-centeredness amounts to losing the self. It is self-alienation.

The right kind of self-centeredness is the opposite of self-alienation. It finds the gravity centered deep within the self, deriving values, goals, ideas, and actions from within, assuming responsibility for them, thereby increasing integrity and self-respect. But this requires the labor of consciously taking control in choosing one’s views and taking the risk of giving up control by standing alone and risk the disapproval of others. When you pass over this threshold, all contradictions become a complementary whole, which you not only understand, but know and live. For example, you must become capable of living in a less than perfect way, until perfect happiness becomes possible.

P7             The fear of being means fear of life, fear of death, fear of love, fear of pleasure, fear of risk, fear of change, fear of loss, fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of trust, fear of letting go of control, fear of self. This last fear includes conflicting, and apparently conflicting, rights and wrongs as well as apparently right and wrong emotions, feelings, reactions, drives, needs, expressions. In the meantime, try to discover where and how you are still immersed in automatism; where you are aware; where you understand; and to what degree you approach the threshold to the fourth state—knowing.

The way to determine this is by the way you feel about it. Automatism makes you feel bleak, hopeless, depressed, anxious, afraid, unalive, bored, disgusted with yourself or others, compelled to do, say, think and feel things you disapprove of. Awareness removes these symptoms and, while awareness remains, it induces relief, thereby liberating certain energies. But there is as yet no question about change. You cannot even see yet where and how change is possible. Understanding gives this outlook. Knowing has accomplished it and is constantly accomplishing it, for true living is never a final end.

P8             One of the most constructive tools on this path that none of you can afford to neglect is involving yourself with others and using other people as a mirror. It cannot be emphasized enough how effective it is to work with others.

—The Pathwork® Guide