Monday, April 12, 2010

Pathwork Lecture Excerpt: Role of Daydreams

Blogger's note: Every once in a while, I post something that is neither Seth nor Abe. Today's blog excerpt is from "The Guide" channelled by Eva Pierrakos. More psychoanalytic in approach, the tone of these lectures is more structured and harsh than Abe, and at first glance they can seem opposed - especially on the subject of reality and daydreaming. But I don't think that's actually the case if you stay with it. To me, it's about the difference between fantasy or wishful daydreams and something that will actually manifest in your life.  This was clarified in a later lecture that I can't find right now. You'll just have to take my word for it. :-) Hope you enjoy the temporary interlude. 

Pathwork Guide Lecture No. 98 - 02/16/62

And now, my friends, I would like to discuss a new topic. Let us discuss wishful daydreaming. Let us understand their origin, their harm, and their benefit. For there is also a benefit, although often a precarious one.

Basically, there are two different kinds of wishful daydreams. One kind comes from thoughts, and the thoughts come from drives. These drives are connected with your idealized self-image, your self-glorification, inadequacy, your lack of self-confidence. There is no human being who does not, even consciously at times, indulge in daydreams. In them, he sees himself in situations in which he proves to those who have slighted him his superiority, his greatness. In such daydreams, now they admire him instead. They convince themselves that they were mistaken about him, and he experiences satisfaction, revenge, gratified pride. Thus he enjoys living in a way that is the very opposite of his deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. He corrects his undesirable reality by fantasies, as it were.

The harm lies in the fact that precious energy is being spent on fabricating such wishful daydreams, energy that could be spent in the much more constructive pursuit of finding the root of the inadequacy and eliminating it. In living such fantasies, a certain momentary relief is experienced, but it is a relief that is purely illusory. It is not enough to say that daydreaming is escaping reality. This is true, but let us understand more precisely in what way this happens. If you resist finding the truth about yourself -- the truth of your errors and misconceptions -- you cannot come to terms with yourself, with others, and with life as a whole, or at least in all those aspects that are affected by your problems. So you whisk these inadequacies away by experiencing the opposite in fantasies. It is true that this brings relief in a drab life, but the fact that this relief is available will hamper your efforts at finding cause and effect, in removing cause and effect, and in instituting more constructive patterns.

However, there is also a benefit to this mechanism. One benefit is that, out of the fact that the realistic remedy is not sought, through the activity of correcting life in fantasy, aggression and hostility and destructive impulses are removed. Another beneficial factor is that these daydreams are a symptom. How can you ever find a sickness if there is no symptom? If a physical disease is hidden in the inner organ without its producing a symptom, it would deny you the opportunity of seeking and treating the origin before it is too late. The same mechanism exists when it comes to your soul life.

However, most people enjoy the symptom, and do not wish to recognize it for what it is, and therefore do not benefit from the symptom. Again I say, to simply repress, by some form of discipline, your desire for producing daydreams will not serve any purpose. It will create greater anxiety and different outlets and symptoms. It is better to pick up a little detached distance from this activity of producing corrections in your life by daydreaming fantasies. Observe their particular pattern. Keep a note of them. Realize their general characteristics, their common denominator, their underlying goal This will offer you invaluable material about the root of your problems.

Instead of repressing daydreaming and instead of indulging in them without trying to observe and understand, make them the beneficial symptom that they are. Thus you will turn a destructive activity into a constructive one as long as this activity is a necessity for you. But your psyche will give it up to the degree that you learn to live life in reality. Then they will simply cease by themselves. This cessation must be a natural, organic process, but before this comes about, you must learn to observe and evaluate them.

The second category of wishful daydreaming is emotional in nature and comes from needs, as opposed to those from drives. We have gone into the subject of needs quite extensively. Your repressed, unrecognized needs may create an even stronger force just because they are repressed. This force must have an outlet, which then occurs often through this other kind of daydreaming. If the healthy pursuit of need fulfillment is hindered through your pseudosolutions, unrealistic fears, erroneous images that paralyze your constructive energy and resourcefulness, then an imaginary outlet is necessary. Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual fulfillment is then possible only in fantasies. Again, this is a relief, and again, it is not enough to say that it is merely escape from drab reality.

When you are unwilling to leave your isolation, your needs cannot be fulfilled. As you know from previous talks on the subject, you then either repress awareness of these needs, or you displace them into indirect, superimposed needs that are not your genuine ones. All this creates confusion, knots, paralysis of your spontaneity, of your capacity to feel, to live, to experience in reality. This in turn creates many vicious circles which then make it even more difficult to come out of this destructive pattern. Since your psyche refuses to let you cheat it from living, the accumulated pressure often makes it necessary to provide some outlet. So you may experience a certain fulfillment in daydreams. Only by observing and evaluating your daydreams can you learn to what category they belong -- it is very likely that you produce both kinds -- and what unfulfilled real needs may be contained in them.

The more satisfying your fantasy fulfillment is, the less incentive will you have to resolve your problems so that fulfillment can become a reality. You live a life of your own behind your walls of isolation in which you can direct everything as you choose without interference from others, without outer obstructions. This seems more favorable. The more you live in these daydreams, the less will it be possible to deal with outer obstructions, and the greater will become their influence on you. It will finally seem to you that actual fulfillment is impossible because, in reality, you cannot direct as you choose. This, of course, is utterly untrue since fulfillment is possible in spite of the fact that not everything happens exactly how and when you desire it. But this is only possible if you are flexible and go with life's stream. In the unconscious conviction that fulfillment is impossible in reality, you completely withdraw from living and no longer try. The precarious pseudofulfillment is, at least, something and is so much more than, at this stage, you are capable of experiencing in reality. Determine if this holds true with you, and to what extent. This will be so beneficial, so health bringing!

Yet, to a degree, the existence of some daydreaming of this sort may even spur you on to seek fulfillment in reality. Then they do have a beneficial effect. It depends here on what level you produce them and what your attitude is to them.

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The more immature a person is, the more "successful" will his daydreaming be and, therefore the less will he be capable of and willing to live his life now and in reality, and the more will he need complete control of circumstances to which he has access only in his daydreams. And conversely, the less will he be capable of experiencing fulfillment even while he is flexible and resilient to outer circumstances that are not entirely according to his plans and prescribed ideas. The discrepancy between his daydream situations in which he can make others behave, say, feel, react as he wants, and the reality situation which is often different and does need flexibility, patience, and a lack of childish obstinacy, is too much for him. Thus he prefers living in his dreams, in a would-be situation in which he deceives himself into believing that all that will occur in the future -- now he lives it in fantasy, tomorrow in reality. Of course, the morrow never comes. It goes on being deferred. Fustration is often caused by the fact that the reality situation never conforms to the fantasy situation that has been laboriously prepared in daydreaming. The latter seems so much more satisfying. But the former is infinitely more satisfying, provided courage and flexibility is adopted, provided one gives up the need to control everything, provided one gives up the blueprints and lives spontaneously.

The foregoing should make it quite clear wherein lies the harm of such daydreaming. It may prevent you from living in reality. Now, what is the benefit? Apart from the same benefit applying to the other type of daydreaming, namely the fact that it presents symptoms from which much insight can be gained, there are still further benefits. One, already mentioned, is that daydreams may spur on the incentive to live fully. Also, they can be thermometers and show up inner changes. The different quality of your emotional daydreaming, of the kind of satisfaction you derive in your fantasy, may indeed be an indication of your growth, of the direction in which you are moving onward. To determine this is very beneficial.

Moreover, the activity of daydreaming of this kind encourages your repressed needs to reach your awareness. You will appreciate by now how important this is. But it happens very often, my friends, that this conscious awareness of your needs exists in a way rather halfhearted. You are conscious, but without the evaluation of what it means. You allow your emotions to experience these needs only during the activity of your daydreaming. However, the moment you step into real life, you shut off this awareness, and you live as though this other part of you had nothing to do with the rest of your life. This fragmentizes you and causes a split that could be mended by an increasing awareness that is retained, evaluated, and with its significance understood. That then is the harm of daydreams, the failure to take advantage of the benefit they could be.

If you develop a greater awareness of all your daydreaming, you will derive much benefit. It is my advice to many of you who are on this path that whenever you find yourself engaged in this activity, develop a new approach. Observe, watch, evaluate, note, weigh, determine, but do so without strain, compulsion, or pressure, just calmly and quietly. Make daydreams the useful symptom which they are meant to be by learning from them about yourself, about your real needs, about your drives, about your pseudofulfillment in them, about their goal.

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Now, are there any questions on this subject?

QUESTION: I have many daydreams. When I stop, my fears become active. When my fears recede, I start daydreaming again. Why is that?

ANSWER: Because, you see, my friend, both have the same common denominator, the same root. They both are an expression of your self-alienation. You know perfectly well from your recent findings that your conscious fears are not your real fears. They are displaced fears. They are the fears you want to have rather than the basic fear that you do not wish to face: the fear of being yourself. You are aware of this, are you not?

Therefore, since these are not your real fears, they take the same escape mechanism as your daydreams. You experience either substitute fears or substitute fulfillments. Since you do not face and tackle the problem of becoming yourself, you cannot have the fulfillment that everyone inwardly strives for. Therefore you create substitute fulfillments which you partially experience only in fantasy. It is just as though your psyche says, "So long as I do not face my real fear, I do not mind having other fears. But as long as I remain in this attitude, I cannot be fulfilled. Therefore I need substitute fulfillment." The one is tied to the other. This is why you alternate between experiencing pseudofears and pseudofulfillment in daydreams.

QUESTION: I can't connect my daydreams and my fears in a concrete way.

ANSWER: This is not necessary. If you proceed to face the reason why you fear to be yourself, and develop from that point, these other questions will fall into place. But if you wish, you can observe the nature of your daydreams and the nature of your fears, and you might discover the connection that I just indicated.

QUESTION: What is the difference between drives and needs?

ANSWER: A need is a very basic function of the human entity. A need is something real unless it is displaced and superimposed with an unreal one. A drive, as I mentioned earlier, comes from compulsions which, in turn, come into existence out of misconceptions, out of your images, your lack of belief in yourself, your idealized self-image, and from resorting to pseudosolutions. All these create drives, while the needs may be wants that are utterly healthy.

QUESTION: If a person does not daydream at all, is this a sign of lack of imagination or of maturity?

ANSWER: It could be a sign of maturity, but not always. It would again be a hasty and oversimplified generalization to answer this question with an either/or. If a person does not consciously daydream, it may also indicate something else, but not necessarily a lack of imagination. This is a label that would not get us very far. For what is lack of imagination? It may mean that your creative faculties are inhibited. Not having conscious daydreams may also indicate resignation, stagnation. This may sound paradoxical because I just finished telling you that an overproduction of daydreams at the expense of actual living is unhealthy. Now I am telling you not to daydream may also be unhealthy and a symptom of your unresolved problems. Nevertheless, this is often so in many respects. The presence of a symptom may indicate something quite similar to its absence. Overproduction of daydreaming at the expense of actual living may indicate that a part of the psyche is not at all reconciled to not living. Underproduction of them may indicate an inner giving up. But it depends very much on the kind of daydreaming, as well as on many other considerations, to accurately determine the reason.

The loss of conscious desires, wishes, and goals, or the hopelessness about them due to not daring to leave isolation and separateness may paralyze the life force so much that the person no longer strives in any direction, not even in fantasy. But there are many other factors, too, and it is quite impossible to give a pat answer.

QUESTION: Isn't it often the case that when one is younger one daydreams, but when one gets older and when one knows that these goals are not anymore reachable that one gives up daydreaming entirely?

ANSWER: Of course, it is possible. But it is also very often the case that these daydreams have not been given up. They merely take on a different form or manifestation.

 1999 The Pathwork Foundation (An Unedited Lecture)

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