Lecture 46 – Authority | Abbreviated Version

P1             But is there any human being who is not forced into reactions and decisions by his or her own compulsive and unconscious trends? I will lead you on a path which will show you where you react emotionally in a way that will attract certain happenings to you as inevitably as a magnet draws iron to itself. And with that knowledge you find the particular reason and purpose of your life, your own individual existence. Authority is the very first conflict for a growing child when it reaches a certain degree of consciousness. Elders, parents or parent-substitutes, and later on teachers represent authority for the child.

P2             This authority denies the child many a wish fulfillment. Therefore, authority seems hostile. No matter how much love, warmth and affection a child is given, no matter how necessary the prohibition is at times, it represents the first hurdle of life. If the grown person can adjust to authority maturely and freely, another milestone has been reached in the overall development of the soul. If, on the other hand, reaction toward authority remains childish because unconscious compulsive attitudes prevail, then this milestone remains to be reached later. As long as this point in development has not been reached, the imperfect soul would react negatively toward authority, even if it were administered in a perfect way.

On the one hand, the child longs for the love of the parent, on the other; it resists and rebels against being restricted by authority. Broadly speaking, you react to authority in one of two ways—all human beings do. There are two basic categories, with many subdivisions. You can and should retrace all this to childhood feelings and reactions to your early environment.

P3             First, let us look at those who rebel and revolt outwardly against authority. Now, if the person happens to have an extroverted outgoing nature, combined with a certain courage, the rebellion will take a form in which he or she openly fights and resists. In the other category we have people who think “If I become one with the authority, much as I may dislike that authority, I am safe.” The belief in this apparent safety leads the extreme type in this category to become a strict law-upholder – not necessarily always overtly, but perhaps in more subtle ways.

The law upholders, in order to safeguard their own position and to hide their own rebellion—which deep down is quite similar to the law-breakers’—will become extremely opposed to the law-breaker. The inner motivations of the law-upholder described here are rooted in weakness and fear. And an act or an attitude that comes from weakness and fear can never produce positive results. As I often say, a person’s unconscious affects the unconscious of another person infinitely more strongly than a consciously recognized attitude, act or motive. Thus, the law-upholder, motivated by the wrong protective measures he or she has chosen, has a particularly bad effect on the law-breaker.

P4             The law-breaking tendency must be combined with a current of courage. Otherwise, if certain other character traits and outer circumstances combine, their rebellion will be dimmed to a dull defiance. As far as the law-upholders are concerned, who lack the courage to give vent to their true feelings, their predominant qualities and faults are different. For instance, there may be a combination of a strong liking for order and organization and a wish for peace rather than for fighting.

I hope none of you will misunderstand me and conclude that the law-breaking stance is the desirable one, simply because the other wrong extreme is also imperfect. The law-breaker is unaware of the fact that his or her resistance is not turned against the law as such any longer, or against authority in its good and true sense, but actually against the false note in the equally unaware law-upholder.

P4             If you find yourself to be more of the kind who revolts and rebels against authority, then you should meditate to gain the right concept. See that unconsciously you are under the impression that authority means only the wrong kind. Once you can differentiate and recognize the two kinds—even though you may have seldom, or never, encountered the true one—your resistance against authority will automatically diminish. And after such recognition, you will not mind half as much the existence of the distorted and weak brother of the true authority and law that is your protection as much as anyone else’s.

This will enable you to sense the wrong kind without minding it, because you will now understand the motivations and be able to sympathize. You will recognize that currents similar to your own prevail in the “enemy”—they just manifest differently. You will then also recognize the necessity for law and order, and therefore for authority whose task it is to uphold it.

P5             The fact that the manifestation of the ideal principle cannot exist on earth yet will not confuse you any longer. You will understand that even the imperfect form of authority, as it manifests on earth, is necessary. You will then learn not to react automatically against anyone or anything just because you may feel that it represents authority. A person who is not developed spiritually, may lead to criminal acts—and these have to be stopped, of course.

Now with regards to the other category think back to your childhood and find the times when you revolted. When you search with this aim, you will sooner or later discover and actually remember—perhaps only as a vague feeling, but nevertheless remember—just when you decided to turn around and become one with what appeared to you the stronger force, the authority   as you perceived it. True, good motives are surely also contained in these inner decisions, but also weak ones. Then you will also understand the reaction others have toward you.

The self-righteous severity that sometimes takes hold of you—quite unconsciously and hidden. Your reaction will change in the measure you recognize the weak and fearful motives of your own law-upholding tendency. Thus you will make an act of strength out of an act of weakness. You will remain on the side of the law, of course, as you should—the outer, as well as the inner law—but with a different attitude, with a different flavor, with a different motive.

P6             You will realize that just because you are on the side of authority, on the side of the law, you are doubly responsible in your obligation not to reject the side opposed to the law, but to pull the person out of his or her brand of error with your understanding. You can do this only if you understand yourself first and by sympathizing with the law-breaker—which does not mean to be in favor of the rebellion and of actions resulting from the rebellion. Understand his attitude by understanding your own, laugh with him, build common ground with him. Do not set yourself up as a judge, although you may do so quite unconsciously.

When he (the law breaker) becomes dangerous to the welfare of others, he has to learn a lesson. But this treatment will always be a painful one, particularly if the inner root is not sought while the outer remedy is applied of necessity.

P7             In order to build a world in which vicious circles are prevented or broken before they come to the last you can furnish the cornerstones by examining your own reactions and understanding in what way you have contributed or are contributing by your own unconscious emotional reactions to set an avalanche rolling.

P8             But you can change them (your emotions) by constant observation, by comparing the wrong reactions with the right concept that has to be formed mentally, by meditating on it in the way I taught you in this lecture.

(From Lecture 47) P7               QUESTION: In connection with your lecture on authority, could you give any further advice to a person who finds that with a particular form of authority he is unconsciously a law-upholder, but consciously he is a definite law-breaker to the point of acute resentment, dislike, and intolerance toward this particular authority?

ANSWER: I will gladly answer this question. Once the recognition has been made that unconsciously one is a law-upholder, while one rebels consciously, particularly against a certain form of authority, the foundation for change is laid. Without this recognition, nothing can be changed. The next step is what I say again and again: Observe your reactions in your everyday life from this viewpoint: “What do I feel? How would I want to be? Why do I react this way? What lies behind this reaction? What are the emotions that drive me to react in one instance like this and in exactly the opposite way in the other? Why am I once a law-upholder and once a law-breaker?”

When you finally succeed in answering these questions by learning to make your emotions conscious and articulate, you will understand deeper layers of your being that are responsible for the reactions you have recently discovered. But they are not yet the final answers. Make constant and detached observations of your daily reactions. Find your attitude toward them, and learn from them to find what lies behind them. This in itself is already a curing agent to a large degree.

Furthermore, by doing all this without haste, without tension, but with steady perseverance, you will see all the wrong conclusions that are connected with such attitudes. The important thing is then to think these conclusions through, to see why and how they are wrong, and what the right conclusion would be. Cultivate this process of questioning and observe how the emotions—which work slower than the brain mechanism—still adhere to their old patterns. Then these emotions will begin to change gradually, at first almost imperceptibly. This is the only way, my friends. Authority is not only that which emotionally represents the enemy, the restricting forces that prohibit your doing what you wish. Authority can also be represented for you personally by the very people you love most, because you are dependent on them.

P8             You may wonder how to solve the problem which is that you cannot help feeling dependent on the one you love, and therefore this person becomes your authority. The answer to this question is: Examine your love and find the right middle path. The true giving up (of the self) will choose the right way and the right circumstances where no abuse is ever possible, where the other’s maturity meets one’s own maturity. How does the spirit world judge a person who is searching for truth, yet escapes from himself and chooses the easy way out? The same is not expected of everyone. We do not punish. All that is wrong. There is no such thing. You punish yourself.

When the life plan is violated, the life plan itself begins to work so as to bring about fulfillment. If the choice of the personality is directed against it, the life plan must work differently than if the person had adhered to it. But the result must always be the same. The more ignorantly the personality works against the balance and harmony, the more disharmonious the process of establishing balance and harmony must be, but come it must in the end. Such is the healing force of nature. The same healing force works in the elements, in the body, as well as in the soul. In the soul, when you go against your plan, exactly the same kind of outbreak takes place as in a thunderstorm or an earthquake. But in the end the balance is reestablished.

—The Pathwork® Guide