Accomplishing the Task of Separation – Individuation Cannot be the Acme of Human Realization
Here we return to our dialogue between the man of the world and the man of spirit. In developmental psychology, emotional independence and ego autonomy are seen as the culmination of ego development. While this perspective explains one of the deepest aspirations of the man of the world, the desire for autonomy, it does not take into consideration the values of the man of spirit, and the deepest insights of man’s most profound teaching. Object relations theory, at least as it is understood in the United States, does not take Being into consideration, but rather takes the self-image as the core of human realization. And as we saw in Chapter Two, from the perspective of the man of spirit, the self-image is not real, it is only a conceptual construct. Thus the accomplishment of the tasks of separation-individuation, however necessary, cannot be the acme of human realization, since it is based on an illusory identification. Of course in object relations theory much more than establishing the self-image is involved in ego development; it involves an integration of the various developmental achievements and the various so-called ego functions such as perception, memory, thinking, synthesis, defense and so on. But the basic “accomplishment” is experiencing oneself as a separate individual, based on a self-image composed of memories. From the perspective of the man of spirit, however, one is actually a Being independent from mind, existing outside the field of memory. From this perspective, the accomplishment of ego autonomy is ultimately a prison. In identifying with the self-image constructed through the process of ego development, we cage ourselves. How can this be autonomy, this bondage which is the primary source of human suffering?
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 42
Alienation of the Man of the World
We see, then, that just as psychology has adopted a self with no soul, spirituality has adopted a soul with no self. From the perspective of many spiritual approaches, the spiritual aspect of the human being is seen as quite separate from or even incompatible with the self, which is defined as that which leads the primarily bodily life, concerned with enhancing the self and material well-being. Thus most realms of religion and spirituality have developed an imbalance, in which there is a dichotomy between the spiritual and the material, and the material is rejected in favor of the spiritual. This tends to alienate the “man of the world,” the worldly people who constitute the majority of humankind and who live from the perspective that ordinary, everyday life is important and potentially fulfilling.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 9
An Unresolved Contradiction
A common resolution of the contradiction between the perspective of the man of the world and the man of spirit that many people complacently live with is that human beings are persons who can sometimes experience eternity, universality and impersonal spirit. These people usually take the view that they are the ego which sometimes surrenders to a larger or more universal reality. But according to the teachers who say that the true reality is impersonal and devoid of any hint of ego or personality, we are the impersonal and universal spirit or Being, always and forever. Sometimes we take ourselves to be a person or an ego, but this is a transitory mistake. Some people accept these profound teachings as true, but, unable to resolve this contradiction, continue to live a personal life, which they believe is somehow false, in the hope of one day transcending it into the universal impersonal realm. And some actually do transcend the person and the personal life, or so they say. This, however, does not resolve or eliminate the contradiction. Living the impersonal life of universal truth is clearly possible, as has been demonstrated by some of the above quoted teachers. But this does not explain away the question of ego, the pursuit of personal happiness and the belief in personal life. Transcending a situation is not necessarily the same as resolving it.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 15
Contrasted Perspectives of the “Man of the World” and the “Man of Spirit”
Contrasted to the perspective of the man of the world is the view of what we will call “the man of spirit,” which considers a higher spiritual reality to be the true and proper center of real human life. The most profound teachings regarding human nature, those of the most accomplished and liberated of human beings, of the founders of the major religions, spiritual movements and philosophical systems point clearly, unequivocally and exclusively towards the life of selflessness, egolessness and surrender to a higher reality. One teacher after another, one great religion after another, one moral philosophy after another, extol the life of spirit—in which personal life is subordinated to a higher spiritual reality—as the highest and most refined, most fulfilled and only true life for man. Humanity is exhorted to move towards making the personal life be governed by spiritual values, and towards embracing the universal and impersonal truths, which are beyond self and personality. Thus, the main difference between the perspective of the man of the world and that of the man of spirit is that the first considers the separate personal self to be the center of life, and personal life to be its own value and end, while the latter makes a higher reality to be the center of life, and believes that the personal life must be subordinated in relationship to such a higher reality.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 8
The Capacity of the Ego to be Personal
What does this mean about the personal element that is characteristic of the individuality of ego? We did mention in a previous chapter that ego is a reflection of the Personal Essence. As we will see shortly, the capacity of the ego to be personal is a reflection of the personal quality of the Personal Essence, and it is really a pale shadow of that quality. It is this pale reflection that evokes for the man of the world his potential, and motivates him to pursue the personal life. It is the shadow that reminds him of who he truly is. It is the false gold that tells him of the preciousness of true gold. We find that pursuing the thread of the personal element is the most certain way to discover the Personal Essence. We need only to genuinely investigate what it means in our experience to be personal, for the Personal Essence to emerge.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 72
The Man of the World Experiences the Sense of Being a Person as a Sign of and Expression of His Humanity
One of the main reasons the life of the man of spirit does not attract the man of the world is that it appears to lack the personal element. The man of the world misunderstands and rejects the impersonality of the man of spirit. The man of the world values his personal characteristics, as they are expressed in living his life. He is not willing to sacrifice his sense of himself as a person, and does not understand why the man of spirit exhorts him to do so. He does not see what is objectionable about being personal and living a life dedicated to the pursuit of personal fulfillment and personal excellence. When the individuality of ego develops harmoniously and without much distortion, it has a personal sense to it. One is not only a self, but feels oneself as an individual, a person. The man of the world experiences this sense of being a person as a sign of and an expression of his humanity. So he quite naturally considers impersonality to be a nonhuman quality. He is not willing to give up personhood to embrace the universal impersonality of Being, because he believes this would involve losing his humanness. He is confounded when spiritual teachers and gurus speak of a supposedly desirable enlightened state as impersonal.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 70
The Man of the World is Trying to Reach His True Human Individuation
It is clear from the findings of object relations theory, why the sense of being a person of the man of the world cannot be independent from mind, memory, past experiences, age, sex, parents, environment, body and so on. As we have seen, the man of the world’s sense of being a person is explained by object relations theory as a psychical developmental achievement: the achievement of a separate individuality with a sense of self, or as Mahler would describe it, the establishment of a unified self-image. This individuation is primarily a development in the mind, and thus is seen from the perspective of Being as ephemeral and undeserving of the label of reality …………… The man of the world, in pursuing a personal life, is trying to reach his true human individuation. His values and aspirations reflect a truth, the truth of the possibility of being a real person, an essential person with a fulfilled personal life. The truth of the Personal Essence resides at his human core; it is the unconscious archetype of what he can be. He is not completely astray, but rather dimly senses his potential as a human being and goes about trying to realize it. However, he falls short of the reality, because there is inadequate guidance, knowledge or modeling in his formative years. His development in this direction is greatly influenced by the development of the people who take care of him as a child, and who educate him later. He ends up developing into an image, a reflection of the reality of what he can be.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 94
The Point of Divergence Between the Man of the World and the Man of Spirit
Thus it is not surprising that most of us respond to the impersonality of the man of spirit with awe, non-comprehension or even revulsion. The personal element is the point of divergence between the man of the world and the man of spirit; the first pursues it and cherishes it, and the second rejects it and shuns it. Most of the profound spiritual teachings of the world, speak of the personal element as an expression of ego, and hence of falsehood. Thus the man of spirit mostly equates the personal element with the personality. It is intriguing that the man of spirit looks at the personal element as the barrier against the true life, while the man of the world regards it as the prize of his human maturity.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 71
The Truth Behind the Hopes of the Man of the World
In embodiment one is both Being and a person, a human being. One is the fullness and richness of Being, manifest as a unique person, living a human life in the world. One is both Being and the expression of the love of Being. Being is transcendent, and ultimately nondifferentiated. It is possible to see that the person is a result of Being differentiating into the various aspects, which then become integrated again in a process of embodiment, forming a new synthesis, the Personal Essence. When this process is complete then the human being has attained maturity. This maturity includes the capacity for transcendence; for the Personal Essence is in actuality a cell in the oneness of Being. In other words, transcendence and oneness, the concerns of the man of spirit, are part of the maturity of the Personal Essence, which is the truth behind the hopes of the man of the world.