P1 It is the level on which you harbor wrong impressions and conclusions formed into rigid generalizations about different aspects of life. We call these rigid forms in the soul images.
P2 Many religious people who cling to faith out of fear are examples of those who want to avoid confronting the reality of death on this earth. Another attempt to deal with the problem of death is through negation of the very thing for which one longs most deeply. Humanity longs for bliss and eternal life, but many who desire it are terrified of not attaining it. Therefore they rush right into the negation of what they long for most.
P3 Your deep-rooted longing for this “pleasure supreme” is constantly in conflict with reality as you know it on earth. This is the result of your inability to come to terms with death. When I use the word “death,” I do not mean merely physical death. I refer to all the negative aspects of life, everything that opposes your pleasure drive.
Your first step is to detect how much you struggle against death. Become fully aware of this, just as you need to become fully aware of the constant longing for pleasure supreme. Both may be very hidden. Find which of the two ways you have chosen to cope with death—evading it, or rushing into it. Both are present in every human being, but one or the other may be predominant.
P4 In the latter attempt, you sabotage the happiness that you could have because you are too afraid of losing it again, or not achieving it to the degree that you desire. You say, “Death, or loss, is unavoidable anyway, so I might just as well get it over with.” An extreme example of this is suicide.
As long as your ability to accept death is based on the superimposed knowledge that life goes on and that death is an illusion, your faith is built on sand. But if you take the great, courageous step to face your unbelief, your uncertainty, and your fear, and come to terms with them by accepting the unknown, you will build up your strength and make room for true conviction and the experience of spiritual truth.
P5 For only then can you truly become strong, from knowing and accepting the uncertainty of death in small ways, every day. Civilized life constantly imposes on you the alternatives of pleasure and unpleasure. Let us consider, for instance, work that is not always according to your creative abilities and inclinations, and therefore not according to your liking or pleasure. Moreover, the conditions of working, with all their “musts” which stem from political, economic and sociological factors, which again are themselves a result of the inner duality, necessitate a struggle for living.
This encourages ambitiousness, drives, and compulsions. In addition, these often confront one with obligations which may only be necessary within the framework of your present life on earth. In these ways a reality principle is created that stands in clear opposition to the longing for and fulfillment of the happiness that could be yours. As each person begins to face this problem within, he or she helps to change the world and these conditions in ever so subtle but nonetheless decisive ways.
P6 The difference between the immature desire and the craving on the one hand, and the mature wish for love and pleasure supreme on the other, is not determined by intensity of feeling, but by the time element, and the prevailing illusion of self versus the other. The more mature one is, the better one will be able to connect cause and effect even if they are not close together. If your instinctual drive toward wish-fulfillment interferes with another person’s happiness or if for other reasons you cannot at once receive the gratification you long for, you can cultivate this wider outlook.
Take the instantaneousness out of the wish which in itself is healthy, and you will begin to see the law taking its natural course, and find that you can lift yourself out of time at least to some degree. So the difficult choice between happiness and unselfishness exists only in the relative time element. When your longing for happiness is not instantly fulfilled, this, too, appears as a kind of death. It can often feel like bleak misery, and in that sense seems like death to you. When you give up instant gratification but retain the attitude of keeping alive, in principle, the wish to obtain what you seek, you are using the healthy way of coping with death.
P7 So in this respect you have a new work assignment, and the more you work on it the closer will you come automatically to sense another dimension behind time. I do not want to use the word eternity. This other dimension behind time is still not the ultimate, for behind this is something else still, and beyond that is yet something else, for which there are no words at my disposal. Work first toward the recognition and awareness of the basic current of your longing for pleasure supreme, as well as your apprehension of death in all its facets.
By looking at your various moods, emotions, fears, apprehensions, and anxieties—which all represent a form of personal death—you will see how you really react to death. Find out which of the two wrong ways of coping you use in your emotional response. Learn to become aware of everything from which you cringe; do not repress this fear. You will then begin to see that you fear not only the negative, but also change, because it is unknown to you. This is the great battle between another pair of opposites. One is the surging spirit going forward, the other is the supposed safety in sameness. Stagnation is a distortion of the timeless element of being.
P8 The unhealthy way (of acceptance) contains, above all, a spirit of defeatism. As I indicated before, the very fear of something makes you rush into it. Perhaps it will help you to understand by visualizing a soul movement of tensing and letting go. When you struggle away from something frightening, you tense up and pull away. This very pull in tension pushes you into it. Courage, an honest facing of the self, and a relaxed attitude will produce the necessary strength. The lack of these attributes will either push you into what you fear or make you run from it.
P9 Before you can truly experience that death is pleasure in a healthy way, you first have to go through your own distortion, in which death seems bleak and frightening.
—The Pathwork® Guide