Pathwork Steps
2016 Study Guides

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July 2016:

Reality as Illusion PL 71

Highlights from Part 2
Week 1: Telling the truth without blame or judgment

Week 2: Illusions and dualistic thinking

Film and Reading Suggestions

Week 3: Staying open to the outcome, not attached to it

Week 4: Concentration Exercises

Daily Review

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The Grain of Truth 

The Grain of Truth   is shorthand for a life-changing technique.  It may not be ‘sexy’ enough to get top billing on a workshop flyer or complex enough to fill a seminar.  Yet applied with any regularity, this simple practice opens a doorway into deeper spiritual practice.

 During my first years of Pathwork studies, looking for the ‘grain of truth’ helped me to curb my defensiveness, take a breath, listen, and open my heart during discussions. The process required a shift in perspective from ‘me’ to ‘us’ in order to catch a glimpse of myself.  Those brief pauses allowed space for my Objective Observer to develop. Seeing things from a different angle often led to a change in attitude.

 Reversing the process also works.  Noticing my own negativity, no matter how tiny (rather than focusing upon the ‘greater distortion’ of the other) showed me how I contribute to disharmony.  In addressing the ‘little bit’ of untruth in myself, I became less self-righteous and more receptive to the grain of truth in the other’s point of view.

 No matter what we are invited to face, taking a deep breath and accessing the deeper reservoirs of our faith can calm our fears and help us to be more fully present.  Searching for the Grain of Truth can demagnify negative force fields created by suspicion, distrust, and defensive posturing.  It can build bridges of trust and support with our brothers and sisters.  It can turn an argument or disharmony into opportunity.


So I beg of you, my dear friends, consider the outer conflicts that come to you as an answer to your prayer.  If you will only turn into the other direction.  Instead of becoming defiant and hurt, turn inside, turn around, no matter how wrong you think others may be!  Ask yourself, ask your Father in heaven, ‘Isn't there some grain of truth somewhere?  By recognizing it, I will continue to learn and develop.’

PL 43 The Personality Types of Reason, Will and Emotion


Reality and Illusion

PL 71 explores how we attempt to escape reality by clinging to illusions. In The Four Fold Way, Angieles Arrien divides the personality into 4 different abilities: Warrior (being present), Healer (heart), Visionary (truth), and Teacher (non-attachment). The four Ways reflect a pervasive belief that life will be simple if we practice four basic principles:

Show up or choose to be present,
Pay attention to what has heart and meaning
Tell the truth without blame or judgment
Be open, rather than attached to, the outcome
Week 1: Telling the truth without blame or judgment

               In order to tell the truth to others, we must first be able to tell the truth to ourselves. The next phase is to see through the illusion of duality. It can be useful to break this step up into 2 parts. First, learning to sense what the truth might actually be. After we have become comfortable with being able to access our inner truth, we may be able to examine how we hid behind blame and judgment.  Jan

The moment an individual is more bent on the truth than on proving his right, he contacts the divine principle of transcendent, unified truth. If the desire to be in truth is genuine, the inspiration must come forth.
PL 143

This simple act of wanting the truth requires several factors, the most important of which is the willingness to relinquish what one holds on to -- whether this be a belief, a conviction, a fear, a cherished way of being. When I say relinquish, I merely mean questioning it and being willing to see that there is something else beyond this outlook and that conviction.
PL 71
Blind Spots: 
It is likely that most of us overestimate our ethicality at some point or another. In effect, we are unaware of the gap between how ethical we think we are, and how ethical we truly are.

The notion that we experience gaps between who we believe ourselves to be and who we actually are is related to the problem of bounded awareness. Bounded awareness refers to the common tendency to exclude important and relevant information from our decisions so that our perceptions and decision making are constrained in ways we don’t realize that favors our own self-interest at the expense of the interest of others.

To improve our ethical judgment, we need to understand and accept the limitations of the human mind. The ordinary thought processes humans use to categorize, perceive, and judge information can lead to systemic feelings and beliefs that can be labeled as prejudiced and stereotypical. 

Explore your implicit preferences and receive feedback about the potential ways in which these might discriminate against others without your awareness, using the Implicit Association Test, a free computer-based task.
Blind Spots: Why we fail to do what’s right, and what to do about it
Bazerman & Tenbrusel ©2011
Week 2: Illusions and dualistic thinking
Lack of awareness and understanding breed duality. Duality causes opposites. Opposites bring suffering, pain, problems, conflict, confusion. The original confusion of ignoring the one‐ness between God and man had to create further confusion. It can hardly create clarity, truth, peace.

Duality is experienced in many aspects. It embraces the large issues of life, as well as seemingly lesser ones. The great opposites are: life and death; good and bad; right and wrong; happiness and unhappiness; love and selfishness; light and darkness; truth and falsehood; pleasure and pain; peace and fear. Out of these essential aspects of living, which are split into opposites, man has fashioned the concept of God and the Devil. Two opposing people, or forces, are experienced, each symbolizing one half of the duality.
PL 71

Film and Reading Suggestions

Dealing with Reality -- Even When it's Scary
A 12 minute video essay from the PBS NewsHour on accepting life's dangers without obsessing on them.  That is, create a plan for dealing with disaster and then go back to focusing upon living your life as fully as you can.

It's Not About the Shark
Solving impossible problems
A book about thinking 'outside the envelope', allowing our creativity free rein to imagine solutions. On Amazon, you can read the preface (which explains the title) for free. Click here and then click 'look inside'.

Watch this video and try to accurately count the passes among players wearing the white shirts -- before reading the article.  The intent is to demonstrate how, when we are focusing closely on one task – in this case, counting passes – people miss very obvious information in their visual world.         

Explore your implicit preferences and receive feedback about the potential ways in which these might discriminate against others without your awareness, using the Implicit Association Test, a free computer-based task.

The Epidemic We Failed to Foresee
We need to recognize that there are many forms of pain, and not all respond to opioids. All are real. Some are caused by tissue injury, others by nerve injury. In a number of conditions, we can become hyper-vigilant to signals in our body that keep us trapped in a vicious cycle of pain.  David Kessler, NYTimes

Week 3: Staying open to the outcome, not attached to it
          Emotional pain is a function of the brain rather than an external reality, insisting that we change something. Since the message is not in English, we must interpret it.
“We can become hyper-vigilant to signals in our body that keep us trapped in a vicious cycle of pain” (David Kessler, The Epidemic We Failed to Foresee) when we focus exclusively upon alleviating pain.
Being present, paying attention, and learning to tell the truth must be practiced before staying open becomes a natural, relaxed state. Jr

As you progress in this particular direction on the path, you will also see that whenever you do not get what you want (and you will not get it all the time), it will not cause you half the distress and despair it caused you heretofore.
But, as I said, first you have to become aware that in not getting your way, be it in outer things or be it regarding other people's reactions towards you, you have felt disappointment.  And you have to see what this unconscious disappointment made you do.  Only then can you give up this forcing current, thereby giving up the contrived illusions, thereby being free to receive real value, or, if not receiving it, discovering that it is not half as tragic as the child in you thinks.

PL 71

Week 4: Concentration exercises
A valuable outer help as an addition to the inner requirements of analysis of your emotions in order to change those concepts which are not in accord with truth or reality. This additional step is a great help, provided it is not done instead of the inner work. This is another approach to living in the now. 

1. Concentrate on a state of nonthinking (by various methods which can be used), but not nonthinking by letting your thoughts float away in a haze of vague background thoughts, or escape, but rather by being right there. 

2. Nonthinking while being right there, in you rather than away from you, is a difficult thing to learn.  The fact that it is so difficult shows you how little you live in the now, how much you are away from the reality of the moment. 

3. To the degree that you live in reality, to that degree will you be able to stay with yourself, observing yourself as you do not think.
As you proceed on this path in the particular direction I lead you onto now, from the two approaches shown you, you will come to a point when you will not only free yourself of tensions and fears, of many unnecessary burdens, but you will also become much more alive to each moment.  Your reactions will be much more spontaneous, more healthy; your intuition more reliable.

The actual quality of your experience will change from repetitive, monotonous or strenuous life to pleasure, aliveness and vibrancy.
PL 71

Daily Review PL 28

"This daily review can be conducted any time of the day, most suitable to you. When you ponder over an accumulation of days, in which ou took notice of your reactions, you will undoubtedly find a recurrent pattern." 
Constructive Attitudes in Self Confrontation PRS5

Exercise: Keep a record of incidents that disturb you. Focusing upon subtleties may help us from becoming distracted by exaggerating or over-dramatizing a situation. Notice feelings of discomfort, where your suspect you may be uninformed, ignorant, unprepared, or unaware.
Every day, see if you can consciously practice the first 2 ways of being in reality:

Tell the truth
(without blame or judgment when possible)

Stay open to the outcome, not attached to it

It is helpful to notice any physical sensations that accompany such moments. The body never lies, although the mind may have overlaid its own interpretations so often that it can be hard to differentiate the original energetic signals.

All you need is a ½ page of lined paper per day.  Create 4 columns. At some point during each day, jot down brief notes about each incident (limit:10 per day).

1. Two to three words to identify each incident (no details)

2. What feelings or emotional reactions came up

3. The judgments or conclusions you came to at the time

At the end of each week, read through your entries and complete the last column:

4. What do you notice today that you did not notice at the time? Are there patterns?

5. Using your preferred form of meditation (sitting, walking, or while doing 'mindless' chores) reflect upon your early childhood experiences. 

When and why were you unable to stay present? See if you can accept what felt real for you at the time.
We can’t pay attention unless we are present. What clues and connections did you miss as a child, that you realize now?

What is the 'Grain of Truth' in these experiences?

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