Pathwork Steps
May 2015 

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In this issue:

Mass Images PRS 11

Film Suggestions
Groundhog Day in the Cosmos
My Shoes
Cognitive Dissonance / Hour of the Gun

Tool of the Month:
Cognitive Dissonance
Useful Concepts

Daily Review

Respecting the Intuitive Process
Critical skills are sometimes invisible

P.S. on the April topic:
When Daydreaming Replaces Real Life
An article from The Atlantic

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Mass Images  PRS 11

Week 1:  Feminine & Masculine Images
Week 2:  Images of God
Week 3:  Finding Images & Your Resistance
Week 4:  Mass Images in Society

You may download the full month's study guide from (2015 teleconference page) or from

This month's topic was particularly difficult to digest into a single study guide.  Understanding Images is like riding a bicycle; hard to explain, easy to demonstrate, experientially a series of  trial-and-error attempts until an Aha! moment -- that then comes and goes for a while. That's why there are so many lectures on the topic, giving lots of perspectives and examples.  I have listed many of them in the study guide for those who wish to explore further.

Yet I found a movie to illustrate them! Had to edit it down to 11 minutes to remove the melodrama and subplots and expose the Images dialogue. Will be firming a video summary on this topic (including the 11 minute movie segment) this weekend for my YouTube channel.

Intro to the new playlist of topic summaires:

Warm regards, Jan

Excerpts from the Study Guide for Online Meetings

Feminine & Masculine Images PRS 11 (also PL 169, 229 and 251)
Mass Images can be more powerful than individual images. We may need a broader perspective than we have ever imagined. Or, we may have always suspected there were deeper truths but never verbalized our feelings.
Mass images influence existing values.  They always distort and caricature realistic, healthy values.  The above mass image distorts womanhood; it distorts decency; it creates the value of sexual coldness and joylessness in a woman.  How deeply this not only affects her personal life, but also the life of all those around her, perpetuating the same detrimental standards, influencing future generations to abide by the same limiting and limited values, is impossible to perceive.  It requires a wide vision to remotely sense the damage of any mass image, as well as to comprehend the influence one single individual has on either perpetuating, or dissolving, a mass image. PRS 11

 Images of God PRS 11 (also PL 52, 247)

The child learns in early years that God is the highest "authority."  Parents rarely conceive of God within themselves, in spite of, often, intellectually adhering to the concept that God is within man, they  feel  God as an outside power.  And so do the usual teachings of organized religion.  Therefore, children perceive God as a person, residing outside themselves.  Consequently, the ideas and feelings a child develops about, and his attitude to, God, are an extension of his ideas, feelings for and attitudes to, parental authority.  The image created about the parents reflects the God image.  The sum total of personal images, as long as unrecognized and unresolved, results in distortion of spiritual truth.  Not only rigid and often senseless dogma in religion is a consequence of mass images, but the emotional undertone in the individual's relationship to God.  Once one is awakened to these factors, it is not difficult to perceive them.

The God image, at its extreme, induces, as a reaction, a self‑generating dissolving process, becoming a life image of atheism.  The image of a senseless, cruel God, if not dissolved in awareness, reason and realism, becomes an image about life, in which it is felt and experienced to be equally cruel and senseless.  Creation is believed to be a chaotic coincidence, without rhyme or reason. PRS 11

The God Image PL 52
Exercise from  Elizabeth Mylonas’ worksheet in
‘How to find God and have fun doing it’ © 1979 The Center for the Living Force
  1. Repeat the phrase ‘God is…’ over and over, writing down exactly what you say regardless of any irrationality or illogic. Are any of your feeling perceptions of God different from your conscious knowing of what God is?
  2. Make a list of all the things that you think / feel God has done to you.
  3. Make a list of various authority figures from your childhood. Match up the characteristics from Question 1 with these figures wherever possible to see if you have transferred feelings from these authorities onto God.

Finding Images PL 38
“The common denominator may not be easy to find.  In self‑will, something says in you:  ‘I do not want the risk of life; I do not want the pain of life; therefore I draw this conclusion which seems to me to be a safeguard against it.’  That is not a safeguard, for it will bring you in fact infinitely more trouble, the very trouble you are trying to escape from, for life cannot be cheated.  This is the merciful law of God.  How merciful you have no way of knowing yet.  For otherwise you could never come out of the misery of the lower planes with their darkness.  Only when you begin to face what your own wrong conclusions and fears are and you are ready to accept life for what it is, will you be able to cure your soul.  Only then will you have given up some of your self‑will that wishes to deny life in its present form, the form that is necessary for your development.  Only then will you have acquired the humility not to wish to be protected from these risks and hardships of life.  They will cease to be necessary only after you can fearlessly accept and shoulder them.” PL38
“Do not let yourself be dissuaded by your own inner resistance.  For that resistance is just as erroneous, ignorant, and shortsighted as the image itself.  In fact, the very same quality that makes you resist is the one that has created the image in the first place, without your knowing it has created and will continue to create untold misery for you and will counteract your conscious wishes.” PL38


Mass Images in Society PRS 11
Economical, political, religious and cultural systems are influenced by mass images, just as it is true that mass images result from them.  The present forms of government, most wide‑spread, and conflicting with one another, are Capitalism and Socialism.  They both have their own mass images, with their effects.  For example, in a capitalistic society, wealth is considered virtue and a stamp of personal success and adequacy.  Its lack connotes failure, weakness, inadequacy.  A man who is unsure of his whole value, who is torn by inner unresolved personal conflicts, which weaken his self‑esteem, may be strongly affected by the mass image of his culture.  He may be strongly inclined, in this instance, to sacrifice other important values, for the sake of conforming with the ideal success image of his environment.  This leads to the impoverishment of his real self ‑‑ not because he is materially successful, but because this success serves as a cover‑up for retaining his inner conflicts.  He can only feel his masculinity when he is financially successful.  The perpetuation of this mass image becomes necessary because it confirms the values he abides by.  The sacrifice of impoverishing the rest of his personality, which he vaguely senses, would be in vain if this mass image were removed. PRS 11

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Film Suggestions

Think of these challenges to 'normal' thought processes 
as the equivalent of stretching exercises for the mind!

Einstein's Theory of Gravity = It's Groundhog Day in the Cosmos 3mins

An explanation of Cognitive Dissonance 3 mins

An example of how we change reality to fit our beliefs:
Hour of the Gun  1 min 32 secs
David Carr died suddenly in February, after surviving numerous addictions to become an  editor and film critic for the New York Times. In this video, he recounts how he misinterpreted a major life event because it conflicted with his self-image.


The monthly newsletter includes highlights from the monthly study guide, plus a number of 'secular' examples to illustrate the concepts. If you would like to have the full study guide sent to you, in weekly portions, click on the link at the bottom of this newsletter and tick 'Weekly Self Study Notices' in your preferences.  Unsubscribing is just as easy if you change your mind.

Tools for the Month: Useful Concepts

Cognitive Dissonance
 When truth just doesn't feel true.

    "In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values." Wikipedia

In 'Why Science is Hard', Joel Achenbach writes for the Washington Post: 'science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not." He adds, "Even when we intellectually accept these precepts of science, we subconsciously cling to our intuitions -- what researchers call our naive beliefs. Shtulman’s research indicates that as we become scientifically literate, we repress our naive beliefs but never eliminate them entirely. They nest in our brains, chirping at us as we try to make sense of the world.
From Changing Minds:  
Cognitive Dissonance is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. Dissonance increases with:
  • The importance of the subject to us.
  • How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
  • Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.
Dissonance is often strong when we believe something about ourselves and then do something against that belief. If I believe I am good but do something bad, then the discomfort I feel as a result is cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions:
  • Change our behavior.
  • Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
  • Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.
Dissonance is most powerful when it is about our self-image. Feelings of foolishness, immorality and so on (including internal projections during decision-making) are dissonance in action.

If an action has been completed and cannot be undone, then the after-the-fact dissonance compels us to change our beliefs. If beliefs are moved, then the dissonance appears during decision-making, forcing us to take actions we would not have taken before.

Cognitive dissonance appears in virtually all evaluations and decisions and is the central mechanism by which we experience new differences in the world. When we see other people behave differently to our images of them, when we hold any conflicting thoughts, we experience dissonance.

Dissonance increases with the importance and impact of the decision, along with the difficulty of reversing it. Discomfort about making the wrong choice of car is bigger than when choosing a lamp.                                         
Useful Concepts in Exploring Images:
Pattern:  “An image always forms a pattern in one way or another ‑‑ a pattern of behavior, or reaction on certain occasions, and also of outer happenings that seem to come to the person without his doing anything to call it forth.  In fact, consciously the person may fervently wish something that is the very opposite of the image.  But this conscious desire is the weaker of the two since the unconscious is always stronger.” PL38
Paradigm:  â€œa set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them.” American Heritage Dictionary

Paradox: a statement that seems to contradict, but may nonetheless be true. â€œThe silence rang in my ears’, or ‘a deafening silence’ describes the contrast between perception and physical reality. 
          "I realize, my friends, this seems like an utter contradiction. I say here, on one hand, the wrongdoings of another person cannot harm you. I say, on the other hand, that if you go ahead, following your lowest instincts, it is harmful. Both are true, my friends. But both can be untrue if you understand this in the wrong sense. It is extremely difficult for me to explain how these apparent paradoxes still hold true."  PL60
          "In order to overcome this erroneous duality, particularly the conflict between giving up the self and full possession of the self, I would like to say what may indeed sound like a paradox.  You find yourself in the labor of such a path of self‑realization in order to be capable of giving yourself up ‑‑ in union with the other sex, and in death.  You cannot give up successfully that which you have not found.  For you cannot freely let go of something you have never really possessed.  Only when you can give it up freely, will you gain more ‑‑ selfhood!"  PL123
          "So what I am saying here sounds indeed like a great paradox: only when you give yourself over can you find your real strength and autonomy."  PL254
Daily Review

Exercise: Keep a daily review (PL28) for one week focusing upon moments when you feel that 'what is' can not possibly be in anyone's highest good. That is, when you feel that reality is 'bad' or 'wrong'.

All you need is a ½ page of lined paper per day.  Create 4 columns. At some point, jot down each day these 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
3The judgments or conclusions you came to at the time

At the end of the week, read through your entries. 

4. Notice any patterns. Jot these down in the last column
5. Using your preferred form of meditation (sitting, walking, or while doing 'mindless' chores) reflect upon your early childhood experiences. Can you find any 'seeds' in your relationships with your parents for these images?

Respecting the Intuitive Process
Critical skills are sometimes invisible 
Quotes from 'Skills in Flux' by David Brooks NY Times

Several years ago, Doug Lemov began studying videos of excellent teachers. He focused not on their big strategies but on their microgestures: How long they waited before calling on students to answer a question (to give the less confident students time to get their hands up); when they paced about the classroom and when they stood still (while issuing instructions, to emphasize the importance of what’s being said); how they moved around the room toward a student whose mind might be wandering.

In an excellent piece on Lemov for The Guardian, Ian Leslie emphasizes that these subtle skills are often not recognized or even discussed by those who talk about education policy, or even by those who evaluate teachers.

Leslie notes that the Los Angeles school system tabulated the performance of roughly 6,000 teachers, using measures of student achievement. The best performing teacher in the whole system was a woman named Zenaida Tan. Up until that report, she was completely unheralded. The skills she possessed were invisible. Meanwhile, less important traits were measured on her evaluations (three times she was late to pick up students from recess).

In part, Lemov is talking about the skill of herding cats. The master of cat herding senses when attention is about to wander, knows how fast to move a diverse group, senses the rhythm between lecturing and class participation, varies the emotional tone. This is a performance skill that surely is relevant beyond education.

When Daydreaming Replaces Real Life
An article from The Atlantic by Jayne Begelsen
-- A secular perspective --

Many people who have intense, plot-rich daydreams function well at work and in relationships, he noted. And for those who don’t function well, it could be productive to tackle the themes and conflicts that come up consistently in their daydreams, resolving those issues through therapy.

For some people who have difficulties limiting their daydreams, therapy and other forms of behavior modification may work well; it’s certainly true that not everyone who is troubled by excessive fantasies should be medicated. But for me, as well as for many others online, traditional talk therapy couldn’t stop the relentless pull of my imagination.

Full article:


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