Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Man of Spirit
Integration or Absorption of Personality into Being
The Personal Essence can be seen as the integration or absorption of personality into Being, as the synthesis of the man of the world and the man of spirit. However, it is more accurate to see it as the ultimate product of ego development. In other words, ego development and spiritual enlightenment are not two disjoint processes but parts of the same process. The understanding of the Personal Essence shows how they are linked. This point is a radical departure from the understanding of both traditional spiritual teachings and modern psychology. It unifies these two fields into one field, that of human nature and development.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 153
Man Seen as the Microcosm, Reflecting the Totality of All Existence
We are discussing this realization (ed: ie the objective personal essence) only briefly, for the sake of completeness of our study. It is by no means exhaustive. This is also true of our discussion of the objective and formless dimensions of Being. We do this out of a need for completeness and a need for clarity and brevity. We see in this completely personalized state a total synthesis of the universe of the man of spirit and the universe of the man of the world. This is the true, mature human being, who is neither worldly nor otherworldly, neither personal nor impersonal. He is the potential for everything, the expression of all, the miracle of miracles. Here, man is truly the microcosm, reflecting the totality of all of existence, of all its ontological planes, expressed and embodied in one unique human being. No wonder that some of the wise have thought of him as the isthmus, as the vice-regent of the Absolute, and as the expression of the image of God, of the totality of all that there is. We can appreciate now that the human being is a treasure, incomparable and inconceivable. His objectivity has been likened to a precious diamond, and his personhood to a pearl beyond price. When his personhood becomes objective he is then the rare Diamond Pearl.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 482
Realms that are Unimaginable by the Man of the World
The realization of the Personal Essence, which involves the personalization of essential aspects and dimensions, leads to the complete development and objective understanding of the essential person, as we saw in the last chapter. This realization makes it possible, even easy, to move to the nonpersonal or formless realms. These realms have been called “nonpersonal,” “cosmic” or “boundless” and we will sometimes use these terms, but generally we use the term “formless dimensions,” for these reasons:
• In these realms there are no personal or individual boundaries, so there is no sense of entity or separate existence. This is why the dissolution of ego boundaries is the primary requirement for experiencing them.
• The experience is beyond the body, and hence the dichotomy of inside-outside is transcended, and there is freedom from the restriction of consciousness to a center in the body. Thus these dimensions are beyond form; it is the body image that gives us our personal form.
• The experience is also beyond the person, beyond personal life and transcending personal history.
The man of spirit is mostly concerned with these realms; they are the object of many religious and spiritual traditions. However, as we discussed in Chapter Two, these realms are unimaginable by the man of the world, and his impressions from the communications of those who do know them definitely do not necessarily make him want to know more. They are outside the confines of ego states, and are usually viewed by ego as threatening to its survival. Nevertheless, most traditions and teaching systems orient their methodology toward the attainment of these formless realms, which attainment is considered spiritual realization or liberation.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 419
The Ego Cannot Conceive of Experience that is not Related to a Separate Individuality
This perspective of the man of spirit, which contrasts ego with Being and sees the latter as fundamentally real and the former as illusory, is incomprehensible from the perspective of ego, which cannot conceive of experience that is not related to a separate individuality. For ego, each experience is personal, related to oneself. The man of the world will understandably ask: “How can there be experience if I am not there?” The fact is that the experience of impersonal universality, the boundless presence with no hint of personality, the unfathomable Void, are not the only ways to experience Being, our true essence and existence. Most teachers who have this perspective of absolute Being talk as if one can experience either the separate individuality of ego or the universal impersonality of the ultimate nonconceptual reality. But this view neglects the richness of the human essence and the ever-abundant realm of Being, and thus fails to communicate to the man of the world, who feels misunderstood and cannot see the truth or even relevance of the spiritual viewpoint. To make matters worse, the man of the world might then hear the man of spirit speak of the fact that from the perspective of unfathomable nonconceptual reality, there is no such thing as a person or personal life, and furthermore there is no such thing as a body, or humanity, or life, or a world, or anything like that. From the perspective of the ultimate reality there is only absolute oneness, not single, without any differentiation or discrimination. Every thing, all objects, all occurrences, are merely concepts, not truly existent. At this point the man of the world might well dismiss this view as utter nonsense.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 28
The Man of Spirit and the Man of the World both Overlook the Personal Essence
Confronting this truth is positively terrifying to ego. We have seen how difficult it is to surrender the sense of self, but that is nothing compared to the letting go of one’s separating boundaries. It is not only difficult and terrifying as it approaches; it is completely inconceivable by the individual. This impossibility of conceiving of personal existence without the separating individual boundaries causes many misunderstandings: It is why individuals confuse the ego individuality with the Personal Essence. One cannot conceive of being without boundaries, so one automatically assumes that the experience of the Personal Essence includes the sense of boundaries. This causes a contraction against the presence of the Personal Essence in the latter stages of its development, in the form of holding on to these boundaries. It is the main reason why the man of spirit usually thinks of Being as impersonal or nonpersonal. Many teachings believe the personal element indicates the presence of ego boundaries. It is clearly the main reason for the division between the man of spirit and the man of the world. The first wants Being and the latter wants to be a person. Since they both believe that Being does not have boundaries, and being a person is inseparable from having them, they cannot come to terms with each other. Each one believes that the other is missing something, and they are both right. In our understanding, they are both overlooking the Personal Essence; thus each has only half of the truth.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 394
The Man of Spirit Denies, in Effect, the Personal Essence
To be free from ego means to the man of spirit the realization of Being, and Being is almost always taken to be impersonal. For them it is not possible to experience oneself as a person without identifying with ego. Being a person is for them a clear indication that one is not free. It is also an indication that one is not experiencing Being, but only identifying with a self-image. The personal quality is usually relegated to ego. To be personal and to care about the personal life is taken to indicate the self-centeredness of ego. This is not surprising in view of the fact that wherever we look we encounter only the personality of ego. The experience of the true individuation of Essence is so very unusual that the Personal Essence is called by some Sufis the “rare Mohammedan pearl.” The main reason for this attitude is the absence of the experience of the incomparable pearl in such teachings, or the lack of understanding of such experience, or perhaps sometimes only a matter of emphasis and preference. For such teachings, to feel personal, to value the personal life, to experience oneself as a person, are all seen to be a manifestation of ego. They are taken to be false, and seen as the seeds of suffering. This perspective denies, in effect, the existence of the Personal Essence. It denies the possibility of being a person and being real. It does not see that it is possible to have a personal experience that has a spiritual value, in terms of Being. It is this attitude that is most responsible for making such teachings incomprehensible to the man of the world.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 109
Understanding the Nature of the Human Being in a Comprehensive Way
In this book, our interest is to understand the nature of the human being in a comprehensive way, a way that makes sense of the normal experience of most individuals while retaining the deepest insights into human nature, as seen in the most profound spiritual discoveries of mankind. We will introduce an understanding about human nature by contrasting the view of the man of the world, the usual perspective of most people who take the person and the personal life to be the center of human nature and concern, with the view of the man of spirit, the spiritual perspective of most religions that man’s nature is ultimately spiritual, and human life must be governed by selflessness and egolessness. The most extreme position of this latter perspective is that self and individuality do not have an ultimate or real existence. This extreme position, although not shared by many spiritual groups, nevertheless remains a common and central contention for the most advanced teachings of most spiritual traditions, especially the mystical ones. More specifically, we will contrast the experience of most people that they are separate individuals, entities in their own right, with the contention of many spiritual traditions that the ultimate reality is a state of oneness of being and unity of existence, and explore the relationship between the two.