Pathwork® Founder

Eva Pierrakos

Eva’s Story

Eva Pierrakos was born Eva Wassermann in 1914 in Austria, the daughter of Jacob Wasserman, a well-regarded writer and member of the intelligentsia. She grew up in Vienna during the political unrest of the post World War I years, while the darkness that was about to descend and culminate in World War II was gathering over Europe. Eva loved life, nature, animals, and the pleasure of dancing, skiing and friendship. She was able to leave Austria and lived for a while in Switzerland before settling down in New York. During this time she became the channel for a highly developed spirit guide who gave the series of Pathwork lectures.

Hers is the perennial story of transmitters of spiritual truth: first, astonishment at the manifestation of the gift, then reluctance to accept it and finally, humbly taking on the task with total commitment. Quietly, she drew to herself an ever-growing number of people who became attracted to the path of self-transformation taught by “the Guide.” From the material of these lectures Eva Pierrakos developed the Pathwork, a psycho-spiritual-physical process which leads to identification with the Godself. Her work was enhanced through her marriage with Dr. John Pierrakos, as psychiatrist and co-creator of Core Energetics, who introduced the energetic element into the practice of the Pathwork.

Eva died in 1979, leaving behind her the rich legacy of 258 Guide lectures and thousands of students and followers of the teachings which she transmitted with such devotion for twenty-five years. Following is her story, as she wrote it.

In August 1952, on a beautiful moonlit evening during a visit to Switzerland, I was sitting in my room, leaning my elbows on the table and my head on my hands. I was thinking perhaps meditating, although I did not know much about meditation at that time. Only a short time prior to this evening, I was introduced to a group, in Zurich, which was seriously concerned with psychic and spiritual phenomena. I approached this, to me, very new concept full of skepticism.

That evening, for the first time in my life, I felt a strong presence and a sense of reality concerning God. One thing disturbed me only: my right hand. It began to ache. What could it be? It felt like rheumatism. It had come on suddenly and decidedly prevented me from enjoying my beautiful experience. My hand became very heavy, so heavy that I could no longer keep my arm up as a support for my head. I gave in and simply let my arm drop on the table, hoping that the tension in it would lessen.

Suddenly my hand made a move against my volition, moving my fingers on the tablecloth as though I was writing. I took pencil and paper, and the pencil started writing. It was not me I had no say about it. First, just straight lines were drawn, diagonally across the paper. Then each line began with my name, ending in the diagonal line, going upwards over and over again. My heart was beating. It was an extraordinary experience. By that time I had heard about such phenomena, they were called “automatic writing.” But how could this happen to me? To me, of all people! I had no desire to become a “medium.” What a terrifying and embarrassing thought! What would all my friends say? They would think I’m mad. But this is fascinating, I thought. The mere fact that something I did was beyond my immediate control seemed quite incredible. It gave me a very peculiar feeling. But nor for a moment did I doubt my sanity; even the vague thought that some of my friends might, merely amused me. At any rate, I was curious to see what else would my hand write down. That evening, however, nothing further happened.

I was decidedly not a “searcher.” I was very happy in my personal life and, in fact, my closest friends often accused me of being quite superficial, too much concerned with the lighter side of life. I occasionally participated in the group’s activities and went to its meetings, but considered all this just an interesting entertainment. But since I always tried to keep an open mind, I became thoughtful about certain observations and experiences I had. I began to wonder about some of the aspects that puzzled me about a very new world. Did it really exist? I had always believed in a Superior Intelligence, but this belief had no further consequences for me. I never thought about it, nor did it occur to me that this belief posed further important questions, until the time I came into contact with the group in Switzerland.

Next day I visited a friend who was quite familiar with such phenomena. When I told her what happened, she took it as a matter of course. She admonished me never to practice alone, because the fascination of the phenomenon involves one so deeply that one occasionally loses sight of reality and doesn’t use common sense both badly needed in the training of psychic gifts. For, at the beginning, transmissions occur on many levels. Some types of transmission are banal, often untruthful, occasionally funny, frequently confusing. They are a mixture of astoundingly accurate predictions and hoaxes; a mixture of profound wisdom and of manifestations that are interesting from a phenomenological point of view only.

To sort out this conglomerate requires healthy skepticism, an open mind, experience and knowledge in this field, detachment, and intelligence. It is very easy, at the beginning of such an experience, to lose one’s sense of proportion, to get carried away, to succumb to flattery and to wishful thinking. My friend offered to sit with me regularly. She proposed that these sittings be held in an orderly fashion, lasting approximately one hour, and warned me not to give in to any unreasonable demands that may come through the writing.

I agreed to her suggestions and looked forward to the sessions. It was an even more exciting pastime than going to lectures and witnessing phenomena produced by others. But I had certainly no idea that my life work would result from this.

It took me quite a while to understand that years of hard work, training, self development, profound self confrontation, trial and error, are required until a level of communication can be attained which is meaningful and constructive. There were many setbacks, many temptations to overcome. Perhaps it was just as well that I ignored the difficulties of this development in the beginning. Had I realized them, they might well have kept me from going deeper and further.

The first ten sittings with my friend proved unfruitful: no intelligible writing resulted just scribbling, like little children do; later musical notes came. (I do not play a musical instrument, nor am I particularly musical.) The lines for the notes were drawn as straight as if a ruler had been used. After the first ten sittings various handwritings appeared, all different; some were straight, some slanted, some faster than any normal writing could possibly be, others extremely slow and laborious.

Then, from a certain moment on, one writing manifested which was distinctly different in character from all others, different in emphasis and different in the feeling it induced. It had authority in a calm, certain way. It did not waver. It obviously knew what it was talking about. It made statements of incredible lucidity and wisdom. It always concentrated on inner development, refused to engage in “flashy” phenomenon. It never insisted on obedience, but calmly advised. It never made decisions for others, but helped in how to make them oneself. It had the incredible gift to point out a painful or unflattering truth not only without hurting, but lifting up one’s spirit at the same time.

This voice – whatever or whoever it was – possessed a higher wisdom than any I had previously encountered. It guided and showed; it never possessed. It taught me many, many things. For example, that there is a world of difference between the cultivation of psychic powers which might lead to possession, and the cultivation of spiritual gifts. The latter meant that I must always be the one to determine the time, place and frequency of the sittings. Common sense, my own intelligence, should always be consulted. It warned against blind belief. It stressed, beyond anything else, the importance of my own unceasing personal growth and development, without which this channel could not become what is was supposed to become.

Gradually, surely, unswervingly, its guidance led into the depths of my personality, pointing out blocks and problems I had never seen before. This lasted for many years and was the equivalent of a deep analysis. It was also pointed out to me that this was not a one time treatment, to remove certain symptoms. This was a way of life, desirable for anyone who wanted to live fully, and essential if my gift was, one day, to benefit others.

Aside from my psychological and spiritual development, the curriculum of what I had to learn can compare with any academic training both in quantity and quality. I also had to learn about the way spiritual law functions when higher powers are contacted. This was often exceedingly difficult. The only way many facets could be learned was through experience, by trial and error, by tests. If I had a book of rules to study, it would have been much easier. Moreover, I had to learn the art of concentration, and a great amount of patience and perseverance.

The development and training had two distinct facets: the personal, psychological development, the going into the depths of hidden areas, and the more technical approach to the phenomenon proper. There was to be a balance between the two: at times I was advised to concentrate only on my personal development until it had caught up with the more technical and mechanical side of the training.

Finally, I arrived at a point when I had to decide: do I want to take this seriously or do I merely wish to consider it a game, a pastime? In the latter case, it was better to give up immediately, for it soon became clear that this was much too serious a matter to by toyed with. If I decided for the former alternative, I had to make a full, wholehearted decision, knowing what it involved. This was not easy. Aside from the enormous amount of time and effort this extended training consumed, it meant giving up my profession of dancing which I had loved and with which I had made a good living. Also, the objection already mentioned played a role: my set of friends was very “worldly,” “sophisticated,” far removed from such ideas. My immediate family would not be very sympathetic, tolerant at best. The decision had to be made without coercion, without even asking advice about it. All that was pointed out to me was that it had to be made wholeheartedly, and that if I decided to take up this work in earnest, many obstacles would disappear. I asked, of course, for inner guidance and inspiration, for the will of God.

It took days. There were moments of heavy hearted-ness; moments when I was convinced that I should have nothing to do with “this sort of thing.” There were other moments, when I realized, or perhaps only vaguely sensed, how much help I could give to others, and that a gift such as this is a grace. I fluctuated in spite of the assurance of guidance. It was a difficult and, by necessity, a lonely time. In the end, I fully and wholeheartedly decided for it. I have never regretted it. Every particle in my being knew that I had made the right decision the moment after, and ever since.

I received guidance and the obstruction to carrying out my decision were removed. Every detail that seemed to stand in the way just disappeared. It worked out in the most marvelous fashion. This does not mean that I did not have to work, decide, wait, train, make mistakes, etc. It merely meant that nothing stood in my way toward fulfilling what I then realized was my destiny.

After my decision, it all really began in earnest. Aside from my personal development and what might well be termed analysis, the automatic writing continued. At times the speed of the writing was truly beyond human capacity. There were sessions when eighty pages were written in one hour! Moreover, since my own handwriting is illegible, I had early acquired the habit of typing all my letters and so never got used to writing by hand. I got a cramp in my hand even when writing a few lines on a postcard. Well, during the automatic writing my hand did not hurt in the least, and afterwards it felt as though it had rested!

The various different personalities, belonging to the different handwritings, gradually ceased to manifest. The writing became more and more the manifestation of this particular guidance, in line with the pace of my personal development. If the latter lagged behind, the manifestations of the writing would be problematic, troublesome, uninteresting, or insignificant. One of the most important things was always to express the thought and intent to use this channel exclusively for the good, for helping people according to the will of God, and to always keep my motives clear of any impurities.

Then, one day, I was told that this guidance would manifest in a much more adequate way through a state of trance than through automatic writing. Impossible, I said. No it is not impossible, I was told. It would simply take time and effort. Apart from the distaste about the idea of “being in a trance,” I could not imagine how this should ever be possible. Again I had to make up my mind, make a full decision. It required courage to “allow myself the trance state,” at least in principle; I did not quite believe that it would ever happen. In any case, I was game for the training. I was to concentrate on thinking of nothing! This sounds easier than it is. I was given first through the writing and later through an inner voice of inspiration advice, suggestions, helping hints. I had never heard of any of these methods. Later I was told by knowledgeable friends that these are ancient methods, used in yoga. How had I come to this knowledge? I had never read or heard anything about such things, nor about any of the philosophical or psychological ideas postulated in the teachings I received.

For a year and a half I had regular sittings, doing concentration exercises. Nothing happened. I was so much “here,” that it just seemed hopeless. Then, one day, when I least expected it, it happened! It was the strangest feeling, not at all as I had imagined it to be. I had thought it would be like suddenly falling asleep. But it was just the opposite, if this makes sense to anyone who has not experienced it. Effortless consciousness became so great that a state of unconsciousness followed. In sleep, unconsciousness is the result of lower consciousness. The first time I felt as though I were in a strange and whirring vibration; it was a quite indescribable sensation. I did not know how long it had lasted, it could have been years or a second. It was timelessness. When I came to, the blood had drained from my face, but I felt wonderful. Speaking had not occurred, but from that time on it was never again difficult to go into a trance. It was as though I had finally found the knack of it, crossed the “border.”

I realized that now it was more important than ever to keep on growing and developing and to always remember that this channel must only be used for helping people.

After the second time that I went into a trance, the already familiar helping guidance manifested by speaking. The Guide as this voice has later come to be called for the sake of simplicity helped and advised. In the beginning, everything that was said was taken down; later, a tape recorder was used. By now I no longer felt my blood drain from my face when coming out of trance. On the contrary, my cheeks were rosy and I looked and felt as if I had come out of a long, refreshing sleep. I felt more invigorated, stronger and healthier than before.

Between 1952 and 1955 this training proceeded without any outsiders participating. I was told that I was not “ready,” but would be given a sign at certain stages, indicating that a greater extension of my activities to help others was now in order. The first “green light” was given in 1955. I was told to go ahead but never to offer this help unless I was approached. I could not then imagine how others would know about it. But help was indeed always requested from me and I never had to move a finger in order to draw people to it. First, there gathered only a handful of people, some of whom I had never met before. When they asked questions and advice of the Guide, the tenor was always the same: guidance and advice for self development and personal growth. Explanations were given about the purpose of life and creation, showing the importance of each individual’s personal growth.

I gave group sessions, sitting down, going into trance, having no idea what the subject would be. The lectures, which first appeared to be about isolated subjects, began to reveal a definite structure and continuity, plan and foresight in the choice and evolution of topics. What was more incredible was that each topic deeply affected a number of people, who felt each time that the lecture was spoken “for them.”

Gradually, all my faculties and abilities improved and I became capable of helping people privately without the trance state, provided they came regularly and really worked according to the outline of the lectures. For those who came only once, whom I did not know, I continued to need the trance.

At a certain point, it was made clear to me that the trance state is not an end in itself, or even a desirable goal. It is a temporary state and not every type of personality needs it to tap the reservoir of the Real Self, the Divine Spark. Ideally, such communication occurs in a completely conscious state. But there are certain personality structures and specific conditions in the life and surroundings of some people that evidently make the trance a more expedient and speedier way of getting to this point. Why this is so in some cases and not in others, I do not know. All I know is that the more I grow and develop, the less the trance state will be necessary. This is so, even though my personal development was equally necessary to attain the trance state. Any development has to complete certain cycles and phases. Perhaps I had to learn, first of all, to let go and give up my outer will and the faculties of the more superficial mind. Through the trance state a certain inner well may have been opened and tapped, which eventually will flow without trance.

I am very much aware that my continuous self-search, self-facing in humility, is not only the key to my personal fulfillment, but is my responsibility to this work. Without this prerequisite the dynamic life that permeates this entire venture would cease, and the Pathwork would end where so many other valuable teachings have ended: in dead dogma.

The attitude of the participants to the phenomenon varies with their personalities. Some have no religious affiliation or are even agnostic or atheistic in their outlook when they first begin with work. Their attitude is that they do not care what the source is of these teachings, but they are willing to accept help that seems so sensible and reliable. They are aware that this is an unusual phenomenon, since all who know me fairly well can see that my ordinary conscious self could not produce these teachings. I have never studied psychology or metaphysics, and, even if I had done so, this could not explain such an organized and planned lecture series, applicable for deep inner psychological work and spiritual development. Nor could my background explain how accurate diagnoses are made for people I do not know, and how ways are shown to help them work out their most immediate and involved problems.

There are those who believe that the Guide is a personality not living flesh, who has greater knowledge and wisdom than most human beings, and certainly an unusual amount of love, understanding, patience, compassion and empathy. There are those who believe that through the trance state I tap a source of universal wisdom within me, that is otherwise still denied me. There are also those who believe that the guidance may be a mixture of these alternatives. It does not matter which, if any, theory or opinion is held. The only thing that matters is an open mind, as well as the will and the courage to follow one’s own path. Nothing could be more rewarding.

I hope that through these lectures the reader will find the same pathway towards freedom and fulfillment which has been offered, and continues to b e offered, to all those who are willing to undertake the venture and adventure of this path.

(From the Preface of “The Path to the Real Self”, written in 1965)

Pathwork OfficeAbout Eva Pierrakos