Lecture 57 – The Mass Image of Self-Importance | Abbreviated Version

P1             Subconsciously you do register your imperfections and inadequacies and, although you do not want to face them and come to terms with them, your knowledge of them persists. You cannot eradicate that. So you seek relief from this unpleasant feeling. You believe, mistakenly, that this can be accomplished by receiving attention, admiration, and approval.

A universal mass image is the following: “If I receive attention or approval or admiration, all my worth is established not only in the eyes of the world but in my own eyes. If I cannot get it, then I am inferior.” Since this is an image, it is illusory. the remedy is not in defiance and rebellion against your dependence on other’s opinions of you.

P2             All emotions produce sounds, but the loud voice claiming self-importance does not produce a very harmonious sound. By working on this particular trend, all of you will eventually find that part in you that demands to be elevated to first place, that desires to be special. It is not sufficient to call it pride. You will have to go further than that.

Why do you feel a need for pride? Because of the wrong conclusion of the image I have just explained. It leads you to believe that when you are extra-special in the eyes of the world, your inferiority feelings will vanish; that when others agree with what you do, believe, and think, you gain in worth in your own eyes. Thus, you use pride as a defensive measure, as a means to an end. This is why the realization that pride exists in you never really helps to eliminate it. As long as you do not know how harmful a condition is, you cannot have the necessary incentive to eliminate that condition.

P3             People seek admiration in various ways. One person may believe that material wealth will gain him greater stature in the eyes of the world. With someone else, other values serve to gain that admiration and approval. With most the means to get approval and admiration is a composite of many attributes, supposed to serve the same end. 

The image says that without the approval of the world around you, you are lost. You believe you lose the firm ground under your feet, that your whole world stands or falls by what other people think of you. “I do not care what people say,” is rebellion. And where there is rebellion, there is still bondage. You actually rebel against your dependency on the world’s opinion. Also, in such a dependency you often become untrue to yourself, and this, more than anything else, causes inferiority feelings.

But since you are so dependent on approval, whenever you have to take a stand that makes it impossible to be approved by all, your soul gets into a turmoil. You can safely assume that you are not the only one with this image—you share it with all other human beings. Find your bondage to public opinion, no matter how subtle. Then find, further, why you need the dependency and pride, or rather, why you think you need it. Crystallize the wrong conclusion.

P4             Always go behind the emotion you have just unearthed and clothe it in concise language. If there were no conviction, you would not have held on to it for so long. You know that your unconscious reasons too, although its reasoning is often faulty. Your personal images are always connected with the universal mass image of self-importance.

There are few people who have not experienced grief and disappointment because they felt betrayed. They have displayed utmost loyalty and decency. In spite of this, the betrayal took place. You on this path who have benefited from many a spiritual truth and teaching through this channel or others, know that no mishap can ever occur that you have not caused in some way yourself.

This mass image makes you strive and fight to be in the first place, to be special, so that you can collect whatever your soul thinks it needs. In order to reach that special place, your actions would have to be anything but decent, loyal, or idealistic: they would have to be ruthless, selfish—and would often have to betray the very thing or person you desire to be loyal to. To gain this special place of approval, you feel tempted to do the very thing you in fact abstain from.

P5             In order to counterbalance the influence of the mass image of self-importance, you overcompensate by scrupulously proving the decent side in you, the side you intend to obey. If the battle you are fighting is not consciously understood in its full significance, outer events will follow in such a way as if the selfish side had won out. The outer result must respond to the impulse which is unconscious.

This side will cause you trouble until you come face to face with it, acknowledge it, allow it to exist—not by giving in to it or by not trying to change it after you have recognized its existence, but by seeing its reality at the point where you are. You will invariably come up with the answer that you desire an elevated position in the eyes of the world in order to convince yourself that your inferiority feelings are unjustified.

You believe, deep in your heart, that you need all this in order to survive – not physically, but emotionally. And, to get it, it seems necessary to betray others, to be ruthless, disloyal, or selfish. “As long as I have not given in to the temptation, why do the consequences have to be as though I had actually committed the wrong act? Isn’t the most important thing that my actions are right?” No, my friends. Feelings are actions too.

P6             Because once the negative side of your battle has become conscious, it will lose power. Bring out the mass image of self-importance. You can only do so by feeling the need to be special, and understanding that you feel so not out of malice, not because you wish to belittle others—who must automatically become smaller if you succeed in becoming bigger—and not out of pride for the sake of pride, but out of the mistaken idea that being special means survival for you.

P7             False concepts are always held on to in the mistaken assumption that they are useful or protective. When there is no longer a need in you to prove anything, the right middle way will be as natural as breathing. Do you think of having to breathe less or more in order to get the proper supply of oxygen into your lungs? No. You breathe automatically.

P8             But when one is consciously convinced of the right thing, it is often difficult to break through the separating wall between reason and emotion. The resistance to face the fact that one holds an opinion that does not correspond to one’s conscious and reasonable thoughts is an obstacle.

—The Pathwork® Guide