Misconceptions of happiness and unhappiness

Uncategorised Oct 24, 2019

excerpted from pathwork lecture 58
‘The undeveloped being feels in terms of black and white. It knows no in-between. Either there is happiness or there is unhappiness. If things happen in accordance with its wishes, the world is bright. But if the tiniest little thing goes against its will, the world looks black.
When the infant is hungry but for a few minutes, these minutes are eternity, not only because it lacks a time concept, but also because the infant does not know that the period of hunger will be over in a very short time. So the baby is in absolute despair, which you can observe in a crying child. The issue over which the baby cries seems in no way related to its anger, fury, and unhappiness. This part of the personality, freely expressed in infancy, remains hidden in the psyche of the adult
and continues to produce similar reactions….
If you think it through logically, you will find that the primitive and distorted concept of happiness actually amounts to a desire for omnipotent rulership, for unquestioned obedience from the surrounding world, for a special, elevated position above all other beings — since others are expected to fulfill what the person desires. When this wish cannot be gratified — and it never can –the frustration becomes absolute…
It is impossible, of course, for any human being to remember these early emotions, for you have no memory of your first few years. That these primitive reactions continue to exist without
exception in all human beings is a fact, and you can find these emotions by various ways in the work you are doing on this path. You can find them by observing past and present reactions, by analyzing them from the point of view of the inner infant. First, discover where the infant still exists in you
with its desires, feelings, and reactions, and focus your attention on this particular aspect of your personality. You will then have reached a point from where you can start to outgrow the unrealistic and unrealizable concept of happiness and build the proper, mature, realistic, and realizable concept.
This will be infinitely more gratifying. Until you have experienced the infant in you, you cannot understand certain inner conflicts as being the effect of the chain reaction this fundamental distorted concept sets off.
The more the child grows and learns to live in this world, the more it realizes that the omnipotent rulership it wishes is not only denied but is also frowned upon. So it learns to hide this
desire until the hiding has progressed so far that the growing person himself is no longer aware of it. Two basic reactions follow. One is: “Perhaps if I become perfect, as the world around me asks me to be, I will get so much approval that through it I can attain my goal.” You then start to strive for
such perfection. Needless to say, my friends, although we are all in agreement that all beings should strive for perfection, this kind of striving is wrong. It is wrong because of the motive. Here you do not strive for perfection in order to love better and give more. You do not strive for the sake of
perfection itself, but seek a selfish end. And it is wrong further because you want to reach the goal of perfection right away, since happiness through omnipotent rulership is desired at once. To reach immediate perfection is, of course, utterly impossible. It forfeits the healthy acceptance of one’s
own inadequacies, which enables the personality to learn healthy humility and accept being no better than the rest of humankind….
Now we come to the desire for unhappiness — how it arises in the human soul out of the complex and universal basic phenomenon of misunderstood happiness. As I said, the human personality finds it more and more impossible to find happiness according to the wrong concept, the only one he knows. Instead of finding the right way by changing the wrong concept into the right one, the personality only too often struggles against the tide, trying to force life into the wrong
concept. When this proves impossible, another way out is sought which seems a solution but proves even more damaging in the long run. Unconsciously, the person argues: “Since happiness is denied me and unhappiness inevitable and inflicted on me against my will, I may just as well make
the best of it and turn a liability into an asset by trying to enjoy unhappiness.” Superficially, this may appear to be a smart solution, but of course it never is. Although some aspects of unhappiness can be enjoyed in an unhealthy way, there are bound to be others that are extremely painful and cannot
be enjoyed at all. But you are ignorant of this; you did not bargain for it and when the pain arises, you fail to see its connection with the process described here. Since the entire process is unconscious anyway, the unenjoyable aspects of unhappiness are never connected with the fact that they were self-provoked. Certain aspects of suffering are enjoyed by humanity, although this will never be consciously acknowledged, unless one is on a path of self-finding. It takes time, effort, and extremely good intent to bring what is in the unconscious to the surface.’