Lecture 244 – Be in the World, but Not of the World | Abbreviated Version

P1             What is the deepest meaning of the spirit of self-preservation? If the deep mind knows that there is eternal life, why does it hold on to life and instinctively fights leaving the body? This seems to be a contradiction. The longing for physical life expresses the divine spirit surging forward into the void, creating matter and form and eventually animating these forms and irradiating them with life, consciousness, and divinity.

The slow penetration of the spirit into the void permits divine attributes to manifest only to a small degree at first. Therefore consciousness is fragmented, concepts are split, and vision is limited; hence come error, ignorance, and fear. Light meeting darkness initially distorts vision; then being is fraught with the threat of nonbeing. The more the spirit penetrates the void the more truth and love transform untruth and fear and hate.

Human beings long for eternal life. They know eternal life does not exist in the physical body, yet they frantically strive to maintain it there. It is important to grasp fully how the striving for physical life is not merely an expression of such a fear (fear of death). It is, on a deeper level, a valid expression of the great movement of creation, the fulfilment of the Plan of Salvation. When this is understood and emotionally experienced, even only occasionally, then Christ’s injunction, “Be in the world, but not of the world” becomes very clear.

P2             The externalized life in the body, in spite of impending physical death, becomes a joyous venture for a greater cause. Physical death itself is increasingly seen as a transformation into a primal state of fuller existence more conducive to well-being. The personality knows of the eternal, fuller, deeper life and thus feels very secure in the physical life. Yet physical life is also experienced as a deeply meaningful undertaking that must never be shirked.

Even its difficulties become bearable and meaningful in the understanding of eternal life on the one hand, and the task of physical living, on the other. The deeper understanding can come only if and when you live with a deep commitment to God to fulfill the task you have come to fulfill. You already know that this task must be twofold: personal purification and transformation and giving over one’s talents, energies, and assets to the greater cause, the Plan of Salvation, according to the will of God.

The fuller your commitment is, and the more sincerely you mean it and put it into daily practice, the greater your excitement and your joy of living will become. Still, many of you have made your commitment to God and your task only half-heartedly.

P3             The misconception that dedication of your life to God’s greater plan brings suffering and pain is still prevalent. If this were not so, the surrender of your will to God would be more complete, less fraught with resistance, and more trusting. One of the most important attributes in this struggle is courage.

It is important to be fully aware of this, to liberate yourself from the illusion that your weakness, your cowardliness, are really not so harmful, and perhaps are even more spiritual than the fighting spirit of those who risk themselves and their personal advantages by aggressive goodness and positive assertion. What happens when you are weak, when you do not stand up to evil behavior, when you collude with it and refrain from fighting for the truth? You encourage evil, you sustain the illusion in the person who perpetrates it that it is not so bad, that it is all right, and that many people support it.

In other words, you foster the delusion that in order to be accepted one needs to sell out integrity and decency. When someone in your presence maligns another, for example, your silence is not goodness, gentleness, peacefulness. Far from it. In a sense it is more destructive and insidiously negative than outright, active maligning. Active evil alone could never have led to the crucifixion of Jesus.

P4             The active principle in distortion, harmful and murderous as it may be, could never by itself wreak the same havoc as the passive, receptive principle in distortion. This is why many spiritual teachings say that the lowest quality on the whole scale is not hatred, but inertia. Inertia, on the energy level, is the freezing of the flow of divine energy. In inertia the radiant matter of divine influx thickens, hardens, blocks, and deadens.

It includes primary and secondary guilt. The primary guilt is for cooperation with evil, permitting it, conveying one’s approval of it, no matter how subtly and indirectly. The secondary guilt lies in pretending and claiming that one is not participating in the evil, and even pretending to be good, when one’s cowardice and self-serving gives silent permission to the evil act. Inertia refrains from action for the good.

Laziness, nonmovement, passivity—in a negative sense—always support indifference, selfishness, nonparticipation, promoting stagnation and hindering growth and change in the self and the environment. Inertia is believed to be restful, while activity is believed to be exhausting. This illusion is a distortion in the deeper mind.

As long as this image prevails in you, you need to question your desire for more receptivity and quiescence. Is it not an excuse for staying inert, avoiding effort and risk? False receptivity is masked inertia. When you give to God, you need to be active, to overcome inertia, to move and do and act, to risk and sometimes to fight against your own and others’ evil.

P5             Giving to God means activity, and at times even pushing through the inertia that wants to keep you from being active. You may have to deal actively with apparently menial, mundane issues. The only way true autonomy can be established is by your total surrender to the will of God. This must include the willingness to be temporarily hurt, rejected, or put at a disadvantage.

Often you find it so difficult to change a destructive, negative attitude or fault even though you have become very aware of it. I suggest you take two approaches, both of which are necessary. The first is that you focus with all your intention and acumen on the extremely painful consequences of this negative trait to yourself and others. You may be aware of the negative trait, but too often you resist recognizing its effects.

When you do fully recognize them, you will experience the pain you inflict on yourself and on others, and thus be more strongly motivated to want to change. This leads me to the second point. Only by praying for divine assistance and intervention, by turning to Jesus Christ and asking for his personal presence and help, can you influence the involuntary currents and attitudes, and change them according to the harmonious laws of God. Your primary attitude in life must become dedication to God’s will and plan, your giving over in all things and putting God first.

If you find yourself unfulfilled in your vocation, if you do not enjoy your work, or find it meaningless, if you do not earn enough to experience pleasure and comfort and material security, somewhere within you are holding out on your surrender to the Creator of all that is. If you lack a relationship and are lonely, or if you are sexually troubled, blocked, and unfulfilled, somewhere within you, you are holding out on giving over to God’s will for you and to the task you are meant to fulfill.

—The Pathwork® Guide