The Twelve Pathways

The Twelve Pathways


May I examine my mind in all actions and as soon as a negative state occurs, since it endangers myself and others, may I firmly face and avert it.
~ Tenzin Gyatso (born: 1935-07-06 age: 79) the fourteenth Dalai Lama
book cover recommend book⇒How to Enjoy Your Life in Spite of It Allto book home
by Ken Keyes Jr. 978-0-915972-01-2 paperback
birth 1921-01-19 died: 1995-12-20 at age: 74
publisher Living Love
published 1993-01-01
A more formal textbook on the Living Love methods. If you were to buy only one book on living love, this is the one I would pick. It packs the most practical information.
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book cover recommend book⇒The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenmentto book home
by Eckhart Tolle 978-1-57731-480-6 paperback
birth 1948-02-16 age: 66 978-1-57731-152-2 hardcover
publisher New World Library 978-1-57731-311-3 eBook
published 2004-09-24 978-1-57731-208-6 audio
  B002361MLA kindle
Eckhart Tolle has probably never heard of living love, but he writes largely about the fourth pathway — liviing in the moment with out dwelling on the past or fretting about the future. He explains that suffering is caused by telling yourself sad stories about your past.
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The twelve pathways are affirmations you memorise and repeat silently to yourself whenever you feel upset. If you are in emotional turmoil you will invariably discover you are failing to follow the advice of one or more pathways. Ken’s textbook How to Enjoy Your Life in Spite of It All gives the most detailed discussion of the pathways.

You can think of them as like paths, guides, rules of thumb or thinking idioms to use to lead you from turmoil to calm.

The pathways use some odd terminology. An addiction is something you tell yourself you must have to be happy. It is an emotion backed demand. In contrast, if a preference is not satisfied, you don’t make yourself miserable. Programming refers to your belief systems and characteristic ways of looking at the world. The Seven Centres Of Consciousness refer to seven ways of filtering your experience, focusing on a particular aspect of it, security, sensation, power, love, cornucopia, conscious awareness or cosmic consciousness. Growth refers to dropping addictive demands entirely or converting them to preferences.

Ken said that he did not consciously compose the pathways. They came to him all at once fully formed after a yacht trip in the Bahama sun. However, they still sound like Ken’s wooden prose. Pathway 5 originally said creates the reactions instead of influences the reactions. He figured the new version would sell better.

  1. I am freeing myself from security, sensation, and power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, and thus destroy my serenity and keep me from loving myself and others.
  2. I am discovering how my consciousness dominating addictions create my illusory version of the changing world of people and situations around me.
  3. I welcome the opportunity (even if painful) that my minute to minute experience offers me to become aware of the addictions I must reprogram to be liberated from my robot-like emotional patterns.
  4. I always remember that I have everything I need to enjoy my here and now — unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated by demands and expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future.
  5. I take full responsibility here and now for everything I experience, for it is my own programming that creates my actions and also influences the reactions of people around me.
  6. I accept myself completely here and now and consciously experience everything I feel, think, say, and do (including my emotion backed addictions) as a necessary part of my growth into higher consciousness.
  7. I open myself genuinely to all people by being willing to fully communicate my deepest feelings, since hiding in any degree keep me stuck in my illusion of separateness from other people.
  8. I feel with loving compassion the problems of others without getting caught up emotionally in their predicaments that are offering them messages they need for their growth.
  9. I act freely when I am tuned in, centred, and loving, but if possible, I avoid acting when I am emotionally upset and depriving myself of the wisdom that flows from love and expanded consciousness.
  10. I am continually calming the restless scanning of my rational mind in order to perceive the finer energies that enable me to unitively merge with everything around me.
  11. I am constantly aware of which of the Seven Centres of Consciousness I am using, and I feel my energy, perceptiveness, love and inner peace growing as I open all of the centres of consciousness.
  12. I am perceiving everyone, including myself, as an awakening being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love and oneness.

When you have an addiction, go through each pathway in turn to see how you are violating its advice. To be able to use this method on the spot, you must memorise the pathways, word for word.

When I am not prepared to wade through all twelve pathways, I find picking a pathway at random rather that using my rational mind to select one usually triggers deeper insights. When I use logic to select one, I tend to get in a rut. Here are two ways to let the universe select the ideal pathway for you:

  1. Print the pathways out onto stiff coloured paper. Makes two copies. Cut them into individual strips and put them in a coffee mug. When you need a pathway, just pick one or two at random.
  2. Use the Living Love Pathways Amanuensis, a computerised version of the same technique. It requires a Java-enabled browser such as Netscape or Opera.

Pathway 1

I am freeing myself from security, sensation, and power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, and thus destroy my serenity and keeps me from loving myself and others.

Let us analyse pathway (1) phrase by phrase:

I am freeing myself: It is up to you to free yourself, not some guru, God, your mother, your psychiatrist etc. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. It is something you can do without help from anyone else. It just takes getting on with it.

from security, sensation, and power addictions: You want to work on all three types of addiction. All of them cause suffering.

that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life : Addictions make you like a bull in a china shop, without any finesse in how to get what you want. You go for things only in the most direct way, using force or manipulation, which sets up others to oppose you. They don’t like being pushed, so they automatically push back.

and thus destroy my serenity : This continuos fighting with other people, trying to control them or get them to help you, just wears you out and keeps your nerves jangled.

and keeps me from loving myself: When you are addicted, everything feels dissatisfactory, including your own self. You foolishly imagine if you were just a bit kinder, if you worked just a bit harder, if you were just a bit cleverer, everything would go the way you wanted. You tend to blame yourself for all the things in the universe that are not the way you think they should be.

and others.: When you are addicted you tend see other people as merely as obstacles between you and getting what you want. Once those addictions melt away, you tend to see people as equal to yourself with their own needs they are pursuing. You want to make it work for everyone.

Pathway 2

I am discovering how my consciousness dominating addictions create my illusory version of the changing world of people and situations around me.

My mother used to recount conversations with other people. She would reenact the conversations with voice inflections she remembered, but which were totally different from what I recalled. She heard everyone’s sentences dripping with sarcasm, insult and spite. I heard no such thing. She was completely convinced her perceptions were accurate. I was equally convinced mine were.

The Buddha told a tale of the blind men and the elephant. Our perceptions are warped by memories, expectations, addictions and emotions to a degree far exceeding what most people realise. You are so used to your particular warping, that you think you are perceiving in an undistorted way. Just compare your views with the other 6 billion inhabitants of earth. We can’t all be right.

The more upset you are, the more distorted your view. It helps to remember that much of what is tormenting you is imaginary. The most common illusion is mind-reading, imagining you know what others are truly thinking and what their true motivations are. You can only guess.

No matter how sure you are your guesses are correct, make sure you mentally label them as guesses, with at least some doubt attached to them. The greatest realisations in life come from discovering something we were sure was true was not.

The other key theme of this pathway is that things change all by themselves. Just because the situation is horrible today does not mean it will necessarily stay that way for eternity, even if you can see no plausible route by which it could change.

book cover recommend book⇒The Feeling Good Handbookto book home
by Dr. David Burns 978-0-452-28132-5 paperback
publisher Plume
published 1999-05-01
Here is a workbook devoted to talking back to your illusory thinking. Burns uses a 10-category scheme:
  1. all or nothing thinking.
  2. overgeneralisation.
  3. mental filter, dwelling on the negative and ignoring the positive.
  4. discounting the positive.
  5. jumping to conclusions via mind reading or fortune telling.
  6. magnification or minimisation.
  7. emotional reasoning. I feel like an idiot so I must be one.
  8. should statements.
  9. labelling.
  10. personalisation and blame.
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Pathway 3

I welcome the opportunity (even if painful) that my minute to minute experience offers me to become aware of the addictions I must reprogram to be liberated from my robot-like emotional patterns.

Pathway (3) is one of the most difficult pathways to accept. Think of it this way. Most of the time you suffer from an addiction in ignorance. You don’t even recognise it as an addiction, so you have little hope of reprogramming it. If you see it for what it is, then you have at least a chance of getting rid of the suffering, and being free of this type of suffering for the rest of your life.

Let us say you are well aware of the addiction already, and it gets triggered yet again. You can think to yourself, "This is a wakeup call to put reprogramming this addiction as a priority. I am noticing the huge penalty I am paying for hanging onto it." You can also use this triggering as grist for the mill for the link the suffering method.

When you let this pathway sink in, your consciousness growth goes into overdrive.

The other important point of this pathway is that with addictions, you have no choice; you are driven by pain whips into only one possible course of action. That single choice may or may not be wise or effective. With preferences, you are free to wisely choose your action based on many factors.

I have found this the spirit of this pathway most effective after I have already done some work on an addiction. When the situation comes up yet again, I am prepared with a reprogramming phrase, a pathway or other method. I am eager to do battle, to see if I can knock it out or if it is already knocked out.

Pathway 4

I always remember that I have everything I need to enjoy my here and now — unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated by demands and expectations based on the dead past or the imagined future.

Pathway (4) is a most important pathway because nearly all our addictions are about the past or future. The past cannot be changed. The only time you can take action to affect the future is the present. It is best to stay focused on your here and now feelings and needs. Your fulcrum of influence the world is what you do here and now, right this very second. It is most practical to think What can I do this instant to improve my situation? rather than thinking about things you did or that happened to you in the past or that might happen to you in the future, or what you might do in the future. We imagine we are such accurate predictors of the future, even when reality has a way of throwing us unexpected curves.

Ken used to repeatedly tell a story of a Zen monk, the strawberries and tigers. There was a Zen monk walking through the forest who was chased by a pair of tigers. He lowered himself on a vine over a steep cliff to get away from the tigers. He noticed two more tigers at the base of the cliff. Then he noticed two mice gnawing away at the vine. He was only moments from plunging to his death. Just then he noticed some strawberries growing in the cliff, and plucked one and enjoyed the best tasting strawberry of his life.

Ken points out the monk did not ignore danger. He did took the best action he could, but then used his precious consciousness to enjoy what was enjoyable in the situation.

Everyone has a worry event horizon. Few people worry that the sun will go nova (explode) in 5 billion years. Some people worry about dying even though they don’t expect it will happen for yet another 50 years. Some people worry about running out of money for the day, some the week, some the year, some the decade, some a lifetime. If you can reduce you worry event horizon to a narrower band around the present moment, you will reduce a huge amount of needless suffering.

Worrying is not the same as taking action. Whether you worry about the effects of global warming on future generations and whether you take action to do something about it are two entirely different things. There are four possibilities:

Worry? Take Action? Notes
no no ostrich
no yes living lover
yes no hand wringer
yes yes concerned citizen
I am an old man and have had many troubles, most of which never happened.
~ Mark Twain (born: 1835-11-30 died: 1910-04-21 at age: 74)
Let us take this key pathway apart phrase by phrase.

I always remember: This essence of this pathway is something you have to have on tap like 2+2 = 4. You must not forget it no matter how depressed you are, how angry you are, how bored you are.

that I have everything I need to enjoy my here and now: Even in the worst situation, there is a nicest aspect to the entire situation. Put your attention there. It might be something as trivial as a pleasing colour, a cool breeze, or comfort somewhere in your body. I saw Ken once get off on a blue line painted on a boat. If you were in a straight jacket in a mental instution, and you were hallucinating wildly, you might focus on the normalcy that up was still up. Just pick the best aspect of the current situation to focus on, even if it does not seem all that appealing at first.

One exercise I use to aid in this way of perceiving the world is to pretend that present reality is a Star Trek holodeck — that it is a technologically created illusion, then marvel at all the details they got right. My Russian friend Dimitri gives himself immense joy just by looking at rocks and pondering the question, how did they get themselves into that particular odd configuration? When I am with him I see a world much more complex and beautiful than I normally would. He repeatedly says, "Look again, now what do you see? What else do you see?" When you can look with fresh eyes, looking as if for the first time, you see a whole different world. Ironically, looking at the world as if for the first time takes some persistence.

unless I am letting my consciousness be dominated: This is something you do to yourself by allowing your addictions free reign. You were taught from childhood, by example, that this was the only option. There is another possibility, namely taking charge in your mind, and curbing your addictions.

by demands and expectations: The problem is not only your addictions, but that you are so ruddy sure how the future is going to turn out. Just because life went sour recently does not mean it will necessarily stay sour for the rest of your life. Don’t be so all-fired sure you know what will happen. The unexpected (both positive and negative) has hit you in past. Surprises will most likely continue.

based on the dead past: You cannot change the past. You have present wounds and needs left over from the past. Work on healing your current wounds and satisfying your immediate needs now. There is not much point rummaging around rehashing old events that you cannot do anything about. My Mom used to say "If only" are the two saddest words in the English language. Yet, even if you had a time machine and could relive the event, you would lose your present hindsight, and would make the exact same errors. Wherever you want to go, you have to get there starting from where you are now. That’s just the way it is, by golly.

or the imagined future: My dad used to read us a bedtime story called The Three Sillies. I suggest you click the link and read it now. It is a fable about people who worry about improbable events and paralyse themselves with grief so that they are incapable of taking even the simplest actions.

Everyone of us has been equally silly at some point in our lives.

You often have addictive demands about what you want to have happen in the future. Try to reformulate them as addictive demands about the present. For example, you might addictively demand to go skiing next winter. Reformulating that as a present demand, you might wish to have money saved up for the trip or airline tickets to the mountain in you possession, or to hear from the boss you can definitely take the time off. You often will get your future addictive demands met, but suffer mightily anyway worrying they won’t be.

I learned that Queen Boudica in Britain at the time of the Romans was publicly flogged by the Roman Governor, and forced to watch her two daughters raped. Boudica and her followers, in revenge burned to death a thousand Romans in a temple. The Roman legions came and killed all her followers. She committed suicide rather than fall into Roman hands again. There is not much point wringing my hands over all this. All the people involved are long gone. However, even events a day in the past are just as impossible to change. I have to pay attention only to what I can change in this instant, perhaps with the intent of discouraging such horrific events in future.

Pathway 5

I take full responsibility here and now for everything I experience, for it is my own programming that creates my actions and also influences the reactions of people around me.

This pathway can sting, because it reminds you of how you got yourself into the current predicament. You may have done something foolish. Don’t beat yourself up. Just make a mental note, "Let’s not go down that path again." Treat the predicament as a learning experience. If you go into denial and claim you had absolutely no part in getting yourself into the predicament, you won’t learn anything about how to avoid such pitfalls in future.

It also reminds you of how you behaved automatically, just running off your programming without conscious thought. Properly speaking, it was your programming, not you that got you into the predicament. You are not your programming! You are at liberty to change your programming. When you do, you will find yourself getting into different predicaments, not the same old rut you are in now.

The original version of pathway (5) said and also creates the reactions of people around me. People for the most part are like robots, just blindly running off their addictive programming. They will react in a quite predictable way based on how you act. So in that sense, you create their reactions by how you choose to act.

Pathway 6

I accept myself completely here and now and consciously experience everything I feel, think, say, and do (including my emotion backed addictions) as a necessary part of my growth into higher consciousness.

When you get good at pathway 6, you can use everything that you do, pleasant and unpleasant as grist for the mill of consciousness growth.

There is no point in berating yourself for being where you are. Wherever you want to go, you must start from wherever you are now. Resisting acknowledging your current state will just make it all the harder to make changes. To be able to see yourself clearly requires kind, forgiving eyes that are not afraid of or horrified by the truth. Any form of denial keeps you trapped.

People will whip themselves with a continuous stream of internal verbal abuse. They would never dream of treating another so cruelly, yet they think it perfectly normal to brutalise themselves this way. Talking that way to your friends clearly won’t work. Why are you so convinced that is the best way to treat yourself? Try instead talking to yourself as you would a friend. Be encouraging. Be forgiving. Be understanding. Learn to accept yourself as you are and as you are not. As you learn to do that, you will automatically become less demanding of other people.

It is so easy to use living love as yet just another way to beat yourself up. "Here I am stuck in security centre when I vowed to stay in cornucopia centre all week, what a loser I am! I just had an angry power centre thought, what dreadful person I am!…" That is not the intent!

I saw a documentary about the Dalai Lama. He was involved in a ceremony handing out bits of grass that as I recall symbolised the grass in the Buddha’s pillow. It was in some way supposed to aid the process of enlightenment. People were shoving, grabbing and hitting each other to get the strands of grass. Some of the Dalai Lama’s aids tried to persuade the cameramen to stop filming. They were so ashamed of this unenlightened behaviour in seeking enlightenment. However, he just laughed. It takes eons, eons he said.

Pathway 7

I open myself genuinely to all people by being willing to fully communicate my deepest feelings, since hiding in any degree keep me stuck in my illusion of separateness from other people.

Note that pathway 7 does not require you divulge every detail of your private life to everyone. It only requires to be willing to divulge your deepest feelings. If people are not interested in hearing, you are under no obligation to tell them.

Pathways (7) and (9) appear to be slightly contradictory. In the heat of the moment shut up, but eventually, once you are calm, you need to be open with people. You can’t hide forever.

Living lovers talk about inner and outer honesty. They go together. As Polonius said to Hamlet "To thine own self be true, then it follows as the night the day, thou cans’t not be false to any man." Inner honesty is not kidding yourself. Outer honesty is not deceiving others or hiding important information from others.

To hone my pathway (7) skills, I like to play a game with people. I tell them, "You can ask me any personal question. If it not too embarrassing for you to ask, then I will answer it."

The hardest place to be totally honest is in sharing your judgements about the questioner when asked, or to answer a question like, Who do you like better me or Jim? It is a lot easier to be honest if you clean up your judgementalness.

Pathway 8

I feel with loving compassion the problems of others without getting caught up emotionally in their predicaments that are offering them messages they need for their growth.

Pathway (8) seems to contradict itself. You have to balance head and heart. You don’t have to get upset in order to help others. In fact, you will probably be much more helpful if you don’t get upset. You will be able to think more clearly. You will be a better rôle model for how to handle this difficult situation; you will calm everyone else down, if you don’t let yourself get upset.

Negative emotions are a form of emotional blackmail. People hurt themselves in an attempt to get others to go along with their demands. Consider what happens if you give into a child’s temper tantrum after one hour. She learns that if she persists in keeping herself upset long enough, the universe will relent and come across with the goodies. Next time, she will persist for two hours. By the time she is an adult she will have trained herself to stay upset for decades. Similarly for all the other negative emotions. If you give into a little boy who sulks in his room after a day, he will then learn to sulk for two days and eventually for a lifetime in a vain attempt to get what he wants, even in situations when there is no person who could even conceivably grant the addictive demand.

Pathway 9

I act freely when I am tuned in, centred, and loving, but if possible, I avoid acting when I am emotionally upset and depriving myself of the wisdom that flows from love and expanded consciousness.

This is a common sense pathway, an augmentation of the childhood advice to count to ten when you are angry. Following it can save you all manner of complications. You may decide to do the exact same thing once you are calm as when you were angry, but you will do it with a different vibration that makes all the difference in the way others will react to you.

This pathway also says that when you are in one of the higher centres of consciousness, you can relax, and just act freely. You don’t have to carefully measure every word. Things will tend to work out fine automatically. You will be more aware and thus will be able to recover from gaffes in mid word.

This pathway reminds you that when you are upset, you are not thinking clearly. You are ignoring certain factors and exaggerating others. All it takes is a little time, and your wisdom will return. Just don’t mess things up in the meantime by taking rash actions.

For example, let us say you were conducting a foot race. All was hushed silence. You called out "On your marks, get set, GO! Then a woman in the race screamed out Stop the race! Stop the race!" The runners slowed down and stopped. The woman then explained I wasn’t ready You started the race again: On your marks, get set, GO! Again a scream cried out Stop the race! Stop the race! You angrily asked, What is it this time? She replied, I did not get a good start. You launched into a lecture on the theory of footraces, that it does not matter if she was ready or whether she got a good start. The universe does not revolve around her. That’s just the breaks, part of racing. She started shouting something incomprehensible at you, and you realised that nothing you were saying was getting through. Your angry tone was just making it even harder for her to hear what you are saying.

Pathway 10

I am continually calming the restless scanning of my rational mind in order to perceive the finer energies that enable me to unitively merge with everything around me.

Pathway (10) talks about unitively merging. It does not mean you melt like the liquid metal man in Terminator. It means you are so attuned to what everyone else and everything else is doing that you don’t clash with them. Like a pair of seasoned ballroom dancers, you and the universe interact without turbulence. It requires that you be acutely aware of what is going on in your environment, unclouded by your personal agenda.

Pathway (10) can be understood on a deeper level, as a hint on how to encourage the elusive cosmic consciousness where it appears you truly are one with the entire universe

Pathway 11

I am constantly aware of which of the Seven Centres of Consciousness I am using, and I feel my energy, perceptiveness, love and inner peace growing as I open all of the centres of consciousness.

First, read up on the centres of consciousness.

One exercise you can do is set your watch to beep every hour. When it beeps check out which centre of conscious you using. You might then talk to yourself something like this:

The simplest living love meditation is just to constantly be aware moment to moment which centre of consciousness you are using.

There is no moral judgement in living love associated with the various centres. There is nothing shameful or wicked about hanging out in security, sensation or power, and nothing virtuous about hanging out in cornucopia. It just feels better to hang out in cornucopia, and it feels much better if you open all the centers at once.

The key point to note is the goal is to open all of the centres of consciousness simultaneously. You don’t want to hang out purely in cornucopia and totally ignore your physical security, for example. There is nothing wrong with security consciousness; however, it is painful if that is the only center you open.

You are using all centres all the time to some degree. The goal is to increase your perception through all the centres, not just the higher ones, and to bring them into appropriate balance for the situation.

The other key point is that if you do this exercise, you will notice some tangible benefits: increased energy, better ability to understand others, more love in your heart and greater inner peace.

Pathway 12

I am perceiving everyone, including myself, as an awakening being who is here to claim his or her birthright to the higher consciousness planes of unconditional love and oneness.

Everyone means everyone, no exceptions. It sometimes helps to make a list of whom everyone includes. Here is my list. Every time you discover you are making an exception, make a point of explicitly adding those people to your list.

The pathway does not say everyone is an awakened being, just an awakening being. Every person, no matter what their current level of depravity, selfishness etc. is still capable of learning. Everyone is deserving of unconditional love. They deserve that just for being sentient. Even if someone is malicious you still love them, because that is the most effective thing you can do to someone who is malicious. You love the person behind their drama, even while you vigorously try to thwart their unskillful actions. Loving everyone does not mean agreeing with everyone. Loving everyone does not mean condoning their actions.

The pathway is ambiguous. Does in mean that people are entitled to love unconditionally or to be loved unconditionally? I interpret it to mean both. From a practical point of view, it may make little difference. People who are loving are loved. People who are loved are loving.

Loving everyone means seeing them as part of the oneness of life, a fellow point of view on the universe, just like you, somebody like you, struggling, perhaps hideously unskillfully, to make themselves happy.

This pathway also reminds us that potentially everyone could rapidly clue into the wisdom that would allow them to hang out in the higher centres of consciousness. That enlightenment does not require a Phd, great intelligence, years of meditation or an outstanding moral character. The Buddhist literature is filled with tales of rogues who suddenly got it, often to the consternation of the upstanding citizens.

General Notes On The Pathways

The language of the pathways is quite convoluted. I tried reformulating them in a more pithy way as a set of proverbs. You might find my formulations easier to remember. Use them as training wheels to help you learn the official versions.

The most important thing about the pathways is you must memorise them word perfectly and use them immediately the instant you feel any negative emotion. If you don’t memorise them perfectly, your mind will play tricks on you and you will inadvertently end up programming in a something quite different from the true intention of the pathway. It is amazing how the meaning can change with just one preposition incorrect. The faster you get on top of the negative emotion, the easier it is to deal with.

If you can train yourself to think of a pathway within one second of becoming upset, you short circuit the emotion. It never gets a chance to get up a head of steam.

You will probably find yourself using the pathways more that any other method. You can use them in a few seconds and get on with your life. Most of the other methods are more time-consuming.

Tips For Memorising


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