Introduction to The Pathwork
By Brian O'Donnell PhD
Great Lakes Pathwork Helper
The Pathwork is a contemporary spiritual discipline that involves a highly articulated understanding of personal and collective evolution as well as practical methods for translating these ideas into day-to-day living. It provides a detailed map for self-development that is inspiring, sophisticated and demanding.
The basis of the Pathwork is a series of 258 lectures that were channeled through Eva Pierrakos from 1957 through 1979. These lectures cover a wide range of topics dealing with psychological and spiritual growth. (Examples of lecture topics are: The Spiritual Meaning of Crisis; The Concept of Evil; The Spiritual Symbolism and Significance of Sexuality). Lectures may be found on the internet at pathwork.org.
Pathwork identifies three levels of human consciousness that are called the Mask, the Lower Self, and the Higher Self. The Mask is the outer layer or image that we present to the world. It is the part of us that defends through pretense and idealization. Beneath the Mask is the Lower Self which is the seat of our negativity, egoism and separation from life. The Lower Self is ignorant and superstitious. The core of our being is expressed through our Higher Self. This Self is our essence, and can also be called the Divine or God Self. It contains all that is life-affirming, positive and non-dualistic.
In writing this, I am aware of these levels operating in me. If put into concise words, they are saying:
Mask Self: I want everyone to see how smart and evolved I am.
Lower Self: I hate writing. I don't want to give myself in any way. I just want to take from life.
Higher Self: I have been deeply moved and opened by the Pathwork and want to share it with others who may find it appropriate for their own development.
The thrust of the Pathwork is to identify and dissolve the two defensive layers, (Mask and Lower Self), so that the radiance, wisdom and mature love of the Higher Self can manifest.
While the Pathwork seeks to develop the transcendent experience or Higher Self, I see its particular gift in its rich approach to transforming evil or the Lower Self. Basically, the Pathwork is an alchemical process. Its aim is to assist us in altering the lead of our stagnant and dark energies into the gold of our original and free-flowing divine essence. There is an emphasis placed on unearthing, exposing and re-owning aspects of ourselves that may have been bound up in spite, perfectionism, cruelty and hate. Evil is not eliminated but illuminated. These frozen and twisted states of consciousness are gradually transformed back to the original nature by the tools given through the Pathwork.
The lectures vividly portray the unitive states of consciousness, the lost stage of fragmentation and separation and the territories in between. The Guide's lectures are neither cynical nor falsely reassuring, but profoundly realistic and freeing. The Pathwork does not prescribe fleeing from our limitations or suffering, instead it encourages a fully-embodied embracing of our pain in the faith that there is meaning and divinity in all manifestations.
What I have found particularly valuable is the comprehensive nature of the work. The Path addresses the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our nature. There is an appreciation of the underlying unity of all these levels as well as specific methods for approaching each. In fact, questions, doubts, and confrontations are encouraged. They are seen as clarifying in the individual and fortifying to the community.
Currently there are numerous Pathwork regions throughout the United States and the world, which can be found on the International Pathwork Foundation site (pathwork.org), along with a listing of books and publications about the Pathwork.
Eva Broch Pierrakos, the channel for the Pathwork lectures, was born in Vienna, Austria in 1915. She was the daughter of novelist Jacob Wasserman. She moved to New York in 1939 and her early career was that of a dancer. In 1952 Eva tentatively began to explore her psychic gift through automatic writing. The entity or consciousness that emerged was simply called the Guide. As she became more experienced she would go into a trance and then the Guide would speak through her. In 1967 Eva met and eventually married John Pierrakos, a psychiatrist who pioneered the development of Bioenergetics and later, Core-energetics. Together, in 1972, they helped found the first Pathwork center in the Catskill Mountains in New York. Eva died in 1979. She left behind a marvelous legacy.