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Excerpts about Personality

Activity of the Personality

We can see that this activity of personality -- which consists of reacting to situations by dredging up memories of certain childhood object relations that are somehow associated with the situation, identifying with one or another of the images in that object relation and then manifesting certain automatic emotions and behaviors -- completely lacks freshness, newness. It is a reaction of the past to the present. Being, on the other hand, is the absence of such reactions.

All Qualities of the Personality, all Characteristics of the Personality are Substitutes for the Essential Ones

The personality not only has the memory of the essential aspects but in fact uses this unconscious memory in its attempt to fill the particular hole, by filling it with a fake quality or with hopes of getting it from outside. The final picture is that this sector of the personality takes the place of the essential aspect. It acts as a substitute for it. The servant of the house behaves after a while as the master of the house. All sectors of the personality, all qualities of the personality, all characteristics of the personality are substitutes for the essential ones. The personality, in fact, is an exact replica of the essence, but it is false. It is made up, a reaction, an outcome, and does not have the reality of essence. It is a plastic substitute that lacks the aliveness, freshness, realness, and luminous clarity of the real thing. This is a painful and difficult situation, but in this situation resides the key to its resolution. Because all sectors of the personality are substitutes for and imitations of the aspects of essence, they are really faithful pointers to these aspects. By understanding these sectors we can regain the aspects of essence. Instead of condemning the personality, as most work systems do, we can use it as a guide and a faithful guide at that. The personality contains the keys to its own riddles. Some of the ancient schools realized this fact, and employed it in their work. 

At the Deepest Level Personality is Reactivity

If you observe your personality at any time, in any state, you’ll see that it is always active. It can’t be still. The ego personality is activity and reactivity. It is always reacting to something. At the deepest level, personality is reactivity, and reactivity by its very nature is saying no to something. You might be saying no to a certain pain, or a certain pleasure, or a certain state, a conflict, a difficult situation, to anything. When I say reactivity, I am not referring to physical actions, which are just the grossest, outer manifestations of the personality. I’m talking about when you’re meditating, or allowing yourself a moment of inner reflection. How do you experience the personality then? Can the personality be completely still? When the personality is analyzed in its minutiae you will see the cycle of action and reaction. Originally, there is the reality of what is there, and then there is saying no to that reality. Then there is hope for another reality. Then there is desire for that other reality. Right? There is a rejection of now, a hope for something else in the future, and then a desire for it. The cycle of rejection, hope and desire all together leads to an activity, to trying to achieve what is desired. Any hope, desire, activity, or reactivity necessitates more than anything else rejection of the now. If the now is completely accepted there will not be a hope, there will not be a desire, there will not be a movement away from or toward, or any movement at all. There will be stillness, complete stillness.

Different Forms of the Personality

At some point we can perceive that the inner child, the ego, the ego identity, the emotional self, the mind, the false personality, the observer, the doer, the actor, the one who resists, and the one who hates, are actually all one. They’re just different phases of the same thing that we call personality, appearing in different forms depending on the situation. We have seen that Essence is a substantial Presence, but we are surprised when we realize that it is not only Essence that is substantial; the personality itself is a substantial existence. You can observe that even your personality itself is a material. It has an inner substance.

Feeling that You are an Empty Shell

At the beginning the child seems to have a significance. This is not a mental or inferred significance. The identity of the child is not dependent on something external. Children are real, true to themselves. They have a connectedness, a oneness, rather than disharmony. The child is one entity, responding and reacting and behaving as a whole, not as this part and then that part. That happens later. There isn’t even a distinction between Essence and personality. The child is simply one beingness. As the child grows older, this unity of experience is lost. What causes the transition? Something that was there has been lost, and something that is fake has taken its place. This is what we call “false personality.” If you go very deep inside yourself, you’ll see that what you take yourself to be is not real. One way of experiencing this is feeling that you are an empty shell, with nothing of any significance inside. The ego identity, the core of the personality with its sense of self, can be directly felt as a dry, empty shell. When you see through the personality shell and become aware of the emptiness inside, you become aware of the sense of meaninglessness, worthlessness, and the insignificance. We usually feel this emptiness in vague ways, rather than directly. But when we confront the situation deeply, we feel like a kind of egg shell with nothing inside. When people perceive this empty shell, they often feel, “Why should I live?” There is nothing there, no significance. Everything in the world becomes meaningless. It doesn’t hold any interest. Snow falls and there is no one there to appreciate it. In such a state of meaninglessness I don’t even know what it’s like to appreciate something. I’m not there. How can a deficient emptiness appreciate beautiful falling snow?

Giving the Personality Its Due Respect

The personality will do anything in its power to preserve its identity and uphold its domain. This tendency - or, let’s say, this need - is so deep, so entrenched, so completely the fabric of our identity, that only the person who has gone a long way toward establishing the essential life will be able to apprehend and appreciate this. This need is in our flesh, blood, bones even our atoms. The power of the personality is so great, so immense, so deep, so subtle that the person who contends with it for a long time will have to give it its due respect. Its power is awesome. Its subtlety is unimaginable. Its intelligence is limitless.

Looking Deeply at the Personality Functioning in the Body

If you look deeply at the personality functioning in the body, beyond the verbal level in your awareness, and if you’re not actively acting from your frustration, you can see these stands of contractions. If you feel this very deeply, and let the tension relax without identifying, the big thick contraction dissolves and you see the very thin strands of what we call the negative merging affect itself. They are like lines, like nerves that still have a contraction, a dryness in them. And when you reach that place, you can begin to understand the activity of the personality. You will see that the moment there is some impulse in you, an intention to react, even to act to pay attention to something, you feel these strands of contraction and the effect of them. You’ll feel first of all that your breathing becomes more intentional, rather than spontaneous. You’ll feel that your muscles start to become tense. The action of the personality is simply those strands getting squeezed together to make a big, thick strand of tension. This is what you feel as will, as determination. This determination is a springboard for your action. The personality cannot act unless all of these strands are massed together to move from. Without that, there is nothing. There is an emptiness you can’t jump from.

Opposition to Essence is Really from the Personality

Essence is the real person, the real and true self. The personality is called false because it is attempting to take the place of the essence. As we will see in the next chapter, the personality and the ego identity develop to fill the void resulting from the loss of essence in childhood. So it is really an impostor, trying to pretend it is the real thing. As we said above, the realm of experience of the personality is that of the mind, heart, and body and the energies that fuel them. This is why people take these aspects of experience to be the real thing. If the personality did not make this assumption, it would have to recognize that it is not the real thing, it is not the center of our life. This is tantamount to the personality allowing itself to die. In fact this event, or more accurately the death of the personality's belief in itself as the real thing, is the exact condition necessary for the realization of essence, for essence to become the center of our existence. So the opposition to the essence is really from the personality. The personality will do anything in its power to preserve its identity and uphold its domain. This tendency—or let's say, this need—is so deep, so entrenched, so completely the fabric of our identity, that only the person who has gone a long way toward establishing the essential life will be able fully to apprehend and appreciate this. This need is literally in our flesh, blood, bones, even our atoms. The power of the personality is so great, so immense, so deep, so subtle that the person who contends with it for a long time will have to give it its due respect. Its power is awesome. Its subtlety is unimaginable. Its intelligence is limitless.

Personality Creates Tensions and Armoring in the Body

Personality is nothing but a boundary that separates us from other people so that we can protect ourselves from what we think is noxious to us. But when you block part of yourself, you create tensions and armoring in the body. Not only do you have a pain that cannot be discharged; now you're suppressing it, or pushing it away. This creates an increasing tension, which in turn makes your capacity for healthy regulation and discharge even less. So the situation gets worse.

Personality Must Realize Its Own Bankruptcy

It is true that we need to realize Essence, to free and establish all its aspects. But this is not to make the personality better. It is not so that the personality can say, "Oh great, now I'm enlightened. Now I have this and this and this which I can use to get what I want!" No, the point is that the personality itself finally realizes its own bankruptcy and that it's very existence is the problem. This realization cannot occur without the presence of Essence; this is the value of Essence. You can go to one teacher after another, you can read hundreds of books and have all kinds of insights, but this won't transform you until the knowledge itself, the understanding itself, becomes Essence. Your personality can learn only when Essence is actually there.

Personalization of Pure Being

So at this advanced stage in the process of inner realization, vulnerability must be completely understood and accepted. It is experienced as the human adaptive capacity for being permeable, penetrable and impressionable. It is intrinsically adaptive, being open to a great range of experience and learning. At this stage, the student learns that for the individual consciousness to be completely without defenses means to be completely vulnerable, not only to human love objects but, more basically, to Being itself. This means no resistance, no defense, no separateness and no isolation. So for the personality to be completely vulnerable to the reality of Pure Being means ultimately that it will become so transparent and permeable to it that there is no longer a difference between the two. It is complete absorption of ego structure by Being; the complete integration of personality into Being. The result is the state of unity and oneness of Being. It is also the process of personalization of Pure Being. We see that the following are equivalent:
* Complete cessation of ego defenses and resistances
* Complete vulnerability
* Complete absorption of personality into Being
* Personalization of the supreme aspect of nondifferentiated Pure Being
* Total oneness of Being.

Seeing the Personality as a Dynamic Network of Psychic Structures

Then the student’s perception may expand to reveal that the totality of the personality, with all its thoughts, feelings, hopes, desires, and so on, is a part of a larger whole. It is an inseparable part of a universal network that includes all of his life, involving every person he has any relation to. It feels like a heavy network of images, representations, affects, and thoughts that pervadesall his life, comprising an interconnected totality. It is a heavy, dark, and complicated network. He is now experiencing the totality of his self-structure, seeing that it includes everything and everyone his mind remembers and thinks about. He experiences the totality of his personality as outside of him, separate from his pure being, but now as a continuity of a personal history. He can see that the totality of his personality is not only continuous with all of the situations of his life, but also continuous with all of his past history. He sees that it is part of the continuity of this totality as a dynamic network of psychic structures.

The Barriers of the Personality to Essential Aspects

According to the Diamond Approach, the barriers of the personality to the merging love aspect (and to all others), these dark spots and knots that clog the flow of energies, are nothing but certain specific mental and emotional contents relating to the loss of the essential aspect and the subsequent attempts at compensation. In other words, the dark spots are areas of darkness in our personality: certain emotions, memories, and ideas that are cut off from consciousness and repressed. What the yogis see is the repressed unconscious content, but they understand it only energetically and not psychologically. In our approach, we use psychodynamic understanding to see through these dark spots and dissolve them. The spots are dark because they are repressed material; the light of awareness and understanding does not reach them. So we open each knot, and shed the light of awareness on its content. This will bring out to consciousness the relevant repressed memories and affects. The discharge, the actual experiencing and understanding of this content, usually dissolves the dark spots. In this way we go on dissolving one barrier after another until the whole channel is clean.

The Basic Movement of Our Mind, of Personality, is a Rejection, Mainly Self-Rejection

The basic movement of what we call ourselves or our personality is desire for something different, and that desire makes us effort toward fulfilling it. But that hope and that desire and that effort are all a rejection of what is there. They are all a rejection of the present, of reality. They say “no” to what exists at that moment. This is the constant movement of personality, no matter what the activity is: working on a job, doing a task, sensing yourself, having sex, eating food, driving your car. All imply desire along with a rejection of what we are at the moment. So we see that the personality doesn’t know how to act without rejection. Any preference, every preference of one thing you experience over another is a rejection of something you experience. When you say “no” to a part of you, isn’t one part of you setting itself against another part and saying “I don’t want it”? So rejection creates division and conflict in you. That conflict creates resistances, blocks, and defenses. You don’t want to feel the conflict so you don’t feel as much, you cover it up, defend against it, resist it. Then you don’t like that either so you reject the rejection; in trying to move away from the conflict more conflict is created. This is a vicious cycle of rejection, division, conflict, discord. There is a war, in a sense, going on within us. When we see these conflicts and rejections, what do we do? Usually we can’t help but try to get rid of the conflict, which is more rejection. At each moment there is either a “yes” or a “no,” nothing in between. It doesn’t matter what it is you’re rejecting. Even if you are rejecting rejection, it’s still the same thing, rejection. We are not saying this so you’ll be hard on yourself but to understand the situation. First we need to see that the basic movement of our mind, of personality, is a rejection, mainly self-rejection. One might reject other people or circumstances, but it’s mainly a rejection of oneself, a part of oneself.

The Deepest Aspects of the Personality go Back to the Undifferentiated State of the Ego

So ego identity is seen to originate in this time of undifferentiated dual unity. In fact, the deepest aspects of the personality are seen to go back to this undifferentiated state of the ego. The personality began to be absorbed particularly at that time, between two and ten months of age. In
fact, undifferentiation, or merging, is necessary for this absorption of the qualities of the personality. Personality, then, begins with the child's identification with the qualities that the child experiences through merging with the environment. During the merged condition of the symbiotic stage, the child has no conception of what is his and what belongs to the environment represented by the mother. There is still no concept of self and other. This is the meaning of dual unity. So a feeling that might originate in the mother could end up as the child's. The child experiences the feeling because of the merged condition. If in time he identifies with it, it becomes his. In fact it becomes part of his developing personality.

The Experience That Shows Us That We are Not the Personality

There are various depths and levels of empty space. We can say that the beginning of the void is the absence of identification with the self-image. There is self-image but there is no identification with it. What results is the inner sense of expansion and spaciousness. Then, at a deeper level, the self-image is gone, dissolved. There is only the experience of empty open space, which is boundless, clear, and crisp. The focus is not on the content of the mind but on the spacious emptiness that is its nature. However, this is not yet the deepest level. There might still be identification with an image, but unconsciously. Parts of the self-image might remain in the unconscious. These will surface, in time, and the experience of space will be lost. Disidentifying with these aspects of the self-image until they dissolve will deepen the experience of space. So we see that the experience of the void does not necessarily require the end of self-image or of the personality. It means only that during the experience the personality is not there, is not running the show. This experience is of the utmost importance, for it shows us that we are not the personality. It creates room for expansion and essential development.

The Less Defended the Personality, the More Permeable it is to Essence

This tells us something about the personality. The personality tries not to be influenceable. It wants to be the influencer, the actor, the doer, the one who’s in control, the one who directs. It wants to do that even in relationship to our Essence. The personality wants to experience Essence, but it also wants to still be in charge. It tries to do this by eliminating its vulnerability, by saying no to it just like it does to everything else. It makes itself opaque. But if the personality understands what vulnerability actually means, then we become receptive to our deeper nature, and it acts on us. We are no longer the actor; we are a permeable membrane. We are acted upon, we are penetrated by our nature, and we allow it to come out. And the work on the personality, which can be seen as refining it, allows that membrane to become increasingly vulnerable to our Essence. The less defended and opaque the personality is, the more it is permeable to Essence. And as Essence manifests through the personality—as it permeates it, as it influences it, as the personality becomes completely one-hundred-percent vulnerable to our truest nature—we begin to see that there is no difference between them. We experience oneness, unity. So, the meek shall inherit the earth. The vulnerable can experience the totality of all the possibilities on earth, at all levels. In fact, the meek will not only inherit the earth, they will inherit everything.

The Personality is Our Soul Imprinted and Shaped by Past Experience

The thing that we experience as personality at the beginning, and for a long time on the path, is actually nothing but the soul. The personality is our soul, but our soul imprinted and shaped by past experience. Our past experience shapes and forms our experience of ourselves and of our conscious and dynamic soul, and obscures its true nature by remaining as residual content inour true nature. These residues are the self-images, the internalized object relations, the reactions, the suppressed feelings, memories, and the many defenses we use to protect ourselves. The process of clarification is basically the dissolution of these residues through the light of understanding. This way, the personality reveals itself as the soul developing towards individuation. The soul develops into the Supreme Pearl Beyond Price, which is the individuation of Being. This is the embodiment of Being.

The Unchanging Manifestation of the Patterns of the Personality

The personality does not have true or essential existence, but conditioned existence. This conditioned existence, which appears as the unchanging manifestation of its patterns, depends on the inflexibility, rigidity, and fixation of these patterns. This inertia supports its continued appearance, which we ordinarily perceive as its existence. Therefore, inertia is what gives the personality patterns and sectors their apparent existence. In other words, the lead quality of consciousness is responsible for the continued existence of manifestations of the personality. This is the reason I understand the inner experience of lead to be an indication of false or apparent existence. Inertia is the support that is responsible for the unchangeability of a manifestation of personality. Being aware of this inertia as lead in one’s experience is to experience this phenomenon in the realm of alchemical forms.

The Understanding that the Personality of Ego is an Imitation of the Essential Person

Our understanding that the personality of ego is an imitation of the essential person, the person of Being, can be made more clear by what we call our “theory of holes.” This perspective, which was developed in detail in our books Essence and The Void, states that whenever an essential aspect is missing or cut off from one’s consciousness there results a deficiency, or hole, in its place. This hole is then filled by a part of the psychic structure that resembles the lost essential aspect. One fills or covers up the deficiency with a false aspect in its place. An example of this theory is the issue of Will. Will is one of the aspects of Essence, an element of the true human potential. In childhood it can be cut off and lost from one’s sense of who one is. The absence of this aspect will be felt as a sense of castration, of a lack of inner support and a lack of personal confidence. This deficiency is then usually defended against by creating a false will. The false will is a willfulness, a hard and rigid kind of determination, a stubbornness. This false will is an imitation of the real Will which has been cut off. It is a psychic structure constructed out of self-images and object relations from the past. The essential Will, on the other hand, is an aspect of Being, an existential presence, an actuality in the present. It is flexible and realistic, and does not have the rigidity and hardness of the ego will. It manifests as a natural, spontaneous and implicit sense of inner support and confidence.

Understanding the Personality

Personality is not something to be eliminated. It is simply full of fear because it does not know it’s true nature. The personality needs to be completely and thoroughly understood and cherished. Only with that compassionate, accepting, objective love is it possible to understand the true reality of the personality.

Work on the Personality Together with the Realization of Essence

The old idea, that the personality must be loosened almost completely before Essence is realized has to be modified in light of the latest findings. The old idea is that the personality is the barrier and must be removed before there can be recognition of our essential beingness. Our findings indicate that Essence can be realized in steps or in degrees, simultaneously with work on the personality. Each essential aspect or facet has a psychological constellation associated with it. This association is universal to all people. Understanding and resolving the relevant psychological constellation (which is only a sector of the personality) will allow the associated aspect of Essence to emerge into consciousness.

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