Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Socrates
Essential Aspects Can be Known Only by Being Remembered
This is a deep truth that Socrates knew without having the knowledge about the personality that is available to us now. Now we understand his philosophy psychodynamically; we understand psychologically why we can only remember essence states. We saw in Chapter Three, in our discussion of the theory of holes, that a hole gets filled by a sector of the personality that is related to the lost aspect of essence. We also saw that this sector of the personality is related to its particular aspect of essence by the unconscious memories of the experiences and situations that led to the loss and of the emotions involved in those experiences. In fact, this sector of the personality has in it the memory of the essential aspect itself, and so it is intimately connected to this aspect of essence. Its beginning and development contain the memory of the lost aspect, but the memory is mostly repressed. To remember it consciously involves confronting the painful situations that instituted the repression. So Socrates is right. Essential aspects or absolute forms can be known only by being remembered, by being dredged up from the deepest recesses of the unconscious and experienced consciously. We have not shown, however, that it cannot be known in a different way, such as from somebody else (the way math is learned, for example.) We won't attempt this. However, it is enough for our purposes to point out that essence is a category of experience not accessible to the logical, "mental" mind. It cannot be communicated by the mind to somebody else. Most teachers, in fact, stress that essence is found inside, that the teacher can only point to it, or at best can ignite the inner flame with his own. But the flame is one's own and can be known only directly, within oneself, by oneself.
Have you read Plato? Remember the Platonic Ideas or the Platonic forms? Socrates said that nobody could ever teach you about the forms. The only way you can know them is by remembering them. You have a memory of them, although you may not be aware of it. By retrieving the memory, you come to the Idea. What you return to is not emotions; you return to your Essence. Essence is more real and more substantial than emotions. Essence is as real as your blood. It is not a reaction. Some people are not only cut off from their Essence, they are cut off from their emotions, too. This makes them very far from themselves. They have only their thoughts, which are the results of the emotions. This is the way we lose ourselves and come to identify with our thoughts. First there is Essence, then the loss of Essence, then the resulting emotions, then the loss of the emotions or the conflict around them, which creates all kinds of thoughts. So understanding emotions can help untangle the knots of defenses that are attempts to avoid experiencing the holes. Emotions can point to where Essence has been lost.
Diamond Heart Book One, pg. 25
Recovering the Memory of Essence
You have seen that you can begin with any emotions, thoughts, or difficulties and work through them, right to the original deficiency. By staying with this process, following each issue all the way, you will finally have the memory of what you lost, as Socrates said. And by remembering it, you will have it. Everything you have lost you can regain by working like this. Everything. We understand that there is no separation between psychological issues and Essence; they are intertwined, woven together. This is why you cannot set to work to eliminate the false personality and, when that’s done, start experiencing and developing Essence. Without the retrieval of that which the personality was created to replace, personality simply cannot be dissolved.
Diamond Heart Book One, pg. 51
When one is deeply absorbed in the state of being of the Personal Essence one might not be aware of oneself as a person, but one will still feel this state to have a personal sense. The personal element is a state of Being or a state of consciousness on its own. It is not a quality of something else. The personal element is a specific and absolute aspect of Essence. Like other aspects of Essence, it is a Platonic form. When one experiences the personal aspect one is certain that one feels a personal consciousness, or a personal state of Being. Just as love, will or joy are readily recognized when they are experienced in the pure form of the essential aspect, so is the personal aspect readily recognized. There is always recognition of one's true nature when it is experienced. As Socrates said, one does not learn from anybody or from experience about the Platonic forms. One remembers them from one's own deep resources. One merely remembers oneself.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 77
The Memory of Essence
In the history and literature of the Work, we see that knowledge of what we are calling “Essence” is the goal of the Work. In Western philosophy, we find Plato talking about pure ideas, or the Platonic forms. Plato, a student of Socrates (who was doing the Work), wrote about Socrates’ discussions with his students concerning what are called the “eternal verities.” (We call them the qualities of Essence. These include courage, truth, humility, love, and so on.) Socrates wanted to show how people learn these things. He demonstrated that we can’t learn these from someone else. No one can teach you the quality of courage or love. In his final arguments, he showed that we know these things only by remembering them. Everyone has some memory of these essential forms. We have seen in our work that a consistent characteristic of essential states is the feeling that you have known it before, you have been here before, you are recalling a more fundamental reality that, in the process of living, you had forgotten. So we know that although we are generally unaware of it, this memory of Essence exists, and we know that the process of remembering our Essence is the process of remembering ourselves, of returning to our true nature.