Guide Quote and Lecture of the Month



The Fear of Loving

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 72 | October 28, 1960

Greetings, my dearest friends. I bring you blessings. Blessed is this hour.

Many of the things we discussed in the last few months have helped you to gain insight into yourselves, proving again how contrary your unconscious concepts, attitudes, and ideas may be to your conscious ones. When you gain a little more overall understanding about these recognitions, you will find that, in the last analysis, it is always a question of love. Your desire for love and the lack of it is the result of the experience of the child in you. Realizing this will clarify in what way you fall short of loving wherever your conflicts and misconceptions exist.

As you all know, at least theoretically and intellectually, love is the greatest power in the universe. Every spiritual teaching or philosophy, every religion, even modern psychology proclaims this truth. Love is the one and only power. With it you are mighty, you are strong, you are safe. Without it you are poor, you are separate; you are isolated and fearful. However, this knowledge cannot really help you until you discover where deep inside yourself you cannot love, you do not want to love, and you do not know why you resist loving. Without this particular knowledge, the great eternal truth about love remains a lofty ideal you cannot possibly apply to your person or your life right now.

Those of my friends who really work on this path, who progress in their inner search have, after much digging and exploring, come across a fear of loving. Those of you who really work constructively have finally become fully aware that this fear exists. This is good progress, indeed, for without this awareness the further necessary steps cannot be taken. Again I say, it does not suffice to be aware of your fear theoretically. You must actually experience the fear. Most people who do not wish to know themselves are not even aware that this fear is in them.

However, even you who have finally become aware of the conflict do not yet fully understand why you are so afraid of loving. Yes, you do find some answers, but most of these answers are either theoretical and logical deductions or they are only vaguely felt emotions. This is not enough. Therefore I should like to discuss some aspects of this topic. By no means will it be all there is to say on the subject. We shall return to this very basic problem in the future and illuminate it from other angles.

We now know that those who cannot love are immature. Immaturity causes unreality. Unreality, being untrue, must perforce, cause unhappiness and conflict, darkness and ignorance. Thus, maturity is really the ability to love. We also discussed that the child in you requires an unlimited amount of love. The child is as unreasonable, as void of understanding, as demanding and one-sided as all immature creatures are. Its impossible wants are:  to be loved by all, to be loved totally, to have every wish gratified instantly, and to be loved in spite of its unreasonableness and selfishness. This is why you are afraid of loving.

Since the child in you desires complete surrender from others, being sure that this means love, how can it help but resist total surrender of itself?  The child in you makes you wish to reign supreme over those who are supposed to love you, and who become thereby hardly better than submissive slaves.

There are also times and aspects of yourself in which you become a submissive slave. This is not to be taken literally; it refers to certain emotional reactions. This happens if love, acceptance, and agreement from a particular person become a necessity for you, while you are aware that this need may not be gratified. In your fear of rejection and defeat such submissiveness seems the only way to achieve what you want. Since certain outer aspects of such submissive behavior seem superficially to resemble true love, it is easy, especially when you are in such a dismal state, to deceive yourself into believing that when you submit is when you truly love.

In other words, you often unconsciously create your own inner concept of what love is, which parallels the general concepts of love, at least in outer appearance, taught in some religions and philosophies. It seems to you when you submit that you are being unselfish and are offering a sacrifice. It seems to you that the other person is the center of your world. While this is true to some extent, it is not true in essence. In reality it is you who are the center. Your concern is to convince the other to love you according to your childish concept. He or she is required to worship you, to follow your every whim, to give up all self-direction, and to be governed by the child in you who cries inwardly when its wish is slighted.

Is it any wonder then that with this unconscious demand in your psyche you are afraid to love?  Since your concept — and being unconscious it is all the more powerful — is that love means slavish submission, you do not wish to love. You do not wish to follow another person’s will. You do not wish to give up your autonomy submitting to the rule of another person.

Hence only when you recognize your own unconscious childish distortion about love will you be able to sense or recognize the childish demands of the other person. You will then be uninfluenced by it, feeling neither obliged to give in, nor feeling guilty if you do not. You will see clearly that in such a case another kind of love can be given that is much more detached in character.

Also, when you discover and experience the existence of the unfair demands of the child in you, you can reason with it. You will realize that this misconception of love has nothing whatever to do with real love. Once you understand that, you will no longer be afraid to love. When you realize that love does not mean giving up dignity, self-government, and freedom, you will not fear it. If you do not make childish demands and are therefore able, gradually and little by little, to love maturely, you will expect the same in return. This way of loving bears no danger. In it, you remain free. You do not become enslaved. It is as simple and as logical as that. When you give up your childish idea of how others should love you, you will not fear loving others.

In the gradual process of growth and maturity, you will not immediately experience the great, encompassing love your soul strives for. For, it is one of the conflicts of your soul that you yearn for such love and at the same time hide from it in fear. The child in you knows only extremes. It is either the great height, the final goal, or it is nothing. The more the striving soul is thwarted in its healthy instincts, the stronger will it clamor to be heard. This manifests in a vague feeling of discontent, as of missing something, you do not know what. One part of your psyche sabotages the rightful demands of the other part. Since you are unable to achieve the final goal, you withdraw altogether. This is due not only to the either/or attitude of the immature part of yourself, but also to a tendency toward dramatization. If the great drama cannot be, then you withdraw altogether.

With growing maturity you will realize that you can only reach the final fulfillment of love by starting on the lower steps of its ladder. Perhaps one of the first steps is acquiring the ability to allow other people to feel about you as they wish. If you can give this inner “permission” genuinely, you will learn to give up your demand without feeling hostile; you will reach a point where you can truly like and respect others, even though they do not completely submit to your will. This does not sound like very much. In fact, many of you may believe that you have been practicing it all the time. But have you really and truly?  When things go wrong, test your emotions. As you analyze these feelings and discover that the child in you is strongly at work, you will have the tools to work with on this particular aspect. You will feel an entirely new emotional reaction in you as you learn to give up your subtle forcing current. You will feel as though a heavy burden were removed from your soul.

The next step is letting go of a certain hostility once you have become aware of it in this work. As you do this, you will find a new liking and respect for those whose “unconditional surrender” you unconsciously wished and whom you certainly did not like or respect when the surrender was not forthcoming. A tight band will have dissolved; now you let the other be free, liking and respecting him or her as a human being, without having to possess his or her love and admiration.

This is a decisive step, my friends, and, in reality, it is more dramatic than anything that can be seen from the outside. It will launch you on the ladder upward to the heights that can one day be yours, but not ever by skipping this seemingly trivial and undramatic step. In this way you will find it possible to truly apply the great concepts of universal truth about love in your practical everyday life, right here and now. This much is possible for you now. The final goal is not. You are not yet able to forget yourself entirely, to never think of yourself, to not have a certain amount of selfishness and vanity. To reach for the great goal with all these feelings present is not only unrealistic but unfeasible, and therefore discouraging. To learn of your emotions through painstaking and diligent analysis and to let them mature gradually — that goal is attainable. Before you can truly love others, you have to learn to like and respect them even though you do not get what you want. To do that, you have to find first where, deep inside of you, you really have not done that at all.

As already explained, ideal love often appears deceptively similar to the wrong, weak submissiveness which poses as love. It is this sham that frightens you — never real love. But it is impossible to sense real love merely by hearing about it. You have to experience within yourself where and how you deviate from it by your unspoken expectations and demands. If you are truly honest with yourself, you are bound to find these emotions. This applies to everyone, without exception.

As long as the child in you persists in its strong, self-willed current of subtly, emotionally, and unconsciously forcing others to submit, you construct unreal situations by wishful thinking. In doing so, you do not permit yourself to see that this may not even be what the child who has built this unreal form wants. The unreal form is a constant hazard, and you forcefully close your eyes to it. If you do not see what really is, because you do not want to see what really is, how then can you rely on your judgment and intuition?

Your psyche knows perfectly well that the way you perceive the other as a person in relation to you, or the situation as a whole, is not accurate. You do not see because you do not want to see. Therefore you do not trust your judgment, nor do you trust that the other person will live up to your expectations. Hence you vaguely feel that you do not trust the other person. This is an additional factor causing you to refrain from wholly loving. For how can you love as exclusively as you feel you ought to if you do not trust the other person?  In order to trust, you have to permit yourself to see if this particular person and situation calls for such a response. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to give simple respect and affection.

By giving up a little of what you want — most often unconsciously — you are willing to see what is. With such an attitude, you can perceive the reality of the situation. After that you can discriminate intelligently and you will respect yourself, not only for the ability to give up something you want freely and without hostility, but also because then you will be able to rely on your intuition. By being willing to see what actually is, you can deal with the situation. Therefore you will trust yourself, your judgment, and other people. In not overestimating them, due to your forcing current, you will be able to see, observe, sense, and feel what is true, and not merely believe what you want to be true.

As you learn to trust yourself and others, loving will cease to be a danger for you. But as long as you deliberately remain blind, because the child in you thinks that by willing something you will make it so, you have all the reason in the world for distrusting your judgment, your choice, and the other person. Therefore, you shy away from loving all the more, although there seems no danger to you in being loved.

Letting go of the self-willed forcing current results in your becoming objective in your evaluation of others and learning  to give up your will gracefully. Thus you learn human affection and respect for the person who thwarts your will. You refrain from constructing unreal situations which obstruct your view of that which really is. In that, you not only ignore reality, but you reject it. Accepting reality and seeing what is, your intuition will grow more reliable, and so your trust in yourself will increase.

There is much talk in your time and your world of “accepting reality.”  We have discussed this many times. You all know that your earth life is not perfect and this fact must be accepted if you wish to cope with life and make the best of it. Up to now this was a general concept. Henceforth you have the actual possibility of applying it to a particular aspect of your inner life. It may be that certain people do not feel about you as you would wish — and I do not merely refer to the love relationship between man and woman — but this apparent imperfection is your reality and has to be accepted. When you do so, an entire benign chain-reaction is set in motion, replacing the vicious circle that existed before.

Intuition is the highest sense perception a human being can attain. However, it cannot attain its full potential in you as long as the child in you is undetected and remains strong. Of course, as long as you are a human being, the faculty which you call intuition can never be one hundred percent perfect. But the moment you can say, “I do not know for certain, I may be wrong,” this willingness to learn from possible mistakes makes your ignorance harmless because you are aware of it. In the conscious, concise thought “I do not know” lies the possibility of seeing, learning, and eventually knowing. Intuition will never be a wall you can lean on with blind certainty and confidence. This is why it is so valuable. Think about that, my friends. It is substance for meditation.

When you consciously consult your intuition, free from the forcing current and free from wishful thinking, you will sense certain potentials, as well as certain limitations; the rest may be a question mark. This attitude promotes openness, a readiness for further observation and perception in you that is very fruitful. It is also a sign of maturity, because it is only the immature who must have the entire answer immediately; it is the child in you who cannot bear leaving anything open, unanswered, and in doubt.

You prohibit your capacity to love due to, first, your inability to distinguish between true love and weak submissiveness, because this is what you desire from those who are to love you, and, second, the lack of trust in others because you lack the courage to view the other person and the situation as he, she, or it, is. Both these elements keep your intuition from functioning, at least in the love-related areas of your life. The courage to see what is, rather than what you want, will heighten your intuition, your discrimination, your awareness, and therefore your self-respect. It will eliminate uncertainty so that when the right situation is at hand, you need have no fear of loving.

The courage to accept that which may be inconvenient means acceptance of reality, loss of your fear of loving, and the cultivation of your intuition as a growing force. It means self-respect, trust in others with discrimination, and, consequently, more reliable perception.

So you see, my friends, how all this is tied together with one string. Immaturity is non-acceptance of reality because reality is not always perfect or pleasant. Immaturity exaggerates the  imperfection so much that you close your eyes to it, thereby inviting more conflicts. Immaturity causes crippled intuition and crippled creativity, for creativity without intuition is unthinkable. Only as you grow and learn to face and accept that which is in your everyday life and emotions will you lose your fear of loving. This sentence alone, out of context, would not make much sense. But if you consider it in the light of the links unrolled in this talk, the meaning will become very clear.

When you think of loving, you can think of only one kind, the highest and most perfect. You ignore the fact that there are many stages and many kinds, many degrees and many variations. In your ignorance, you shy away from the kind of love you could be capable of giving right now, and, when such love is given to you, you dismiss it.

As you proceed on this particular stretch of our path, you will begin to function differently as a human being, in all respects. Your life-experience will become much fuller. You will be so alive in each moment!  You will be aware of yourself and others as you never knew you could be. Forces will develop in you such as you cannot imagine possible: creative forces, new perceptions, a growing and unfolding intuition that will give you a stronghold and security such as you cannot realize even now after all your progress.

Again I say, these words are not directed to your brain, but to those aspects of your personality you have discovered due to your work so far, or that you are about to become aware of. Apply these words to the respective emotions!  We shall discuss this from other angles in the future, when the need arises.

Be blessed, all of you, my dear ones. May you find the way to maturity and love by finding where, how, and why you do not love now. May you find the courage to free yourself of this unnecessary burden of fearing love and life. Go in peace, my dearest friends, be in God.

Find more Pathwork Lectures