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The Personality

Oct 22, 1993 07:37 AM
by Gerald Schueler

I am sorry to hear that Don has left the study group.  I really
enjoyed our discussions.  I think that Don has a real spirit of
youthful optimism that we need and I for one will miss.  I hope
that it wasn't anything that I said.

We are all faced with choosing a spiritual path vs a family, and
most have chosen family.  Mike's question, "Is it selfish to
pursue the spiritual life if such a commitment takes time away
from one's other commitments?" is a good one, with no easy
answer.  I have felt guilty many times because I spent time
studying theosophy or other related subject rather than doing
something with my children or wife.  My books alone have taken
many hours away from my family.  I have tried to divide my time
evenly, but I will admit that it is difficult (especially with a
full-time job), and we much each do the best we can.  Mike also
asks, "Or is it that a spiritually evolved person is so much more
effective in helping others that a spiritual life should be
perused first" - to which my response is absolutely not!  Raising
a family and sharing your life with a spouse is more than
"helping others."  Having a family demands time, and sharing of
experiences, and of taking on responsibilities and commitments.
Years ago I read a fascinating book called SIDDHARTHA.  It is
about a man, a contemporary of the Buddha, who becomes
spiritually enlightened.  He has to raise up a child.  It turns
out that he was an awful father, albeit loving and gentle, mainly
because he was not always there when the child needed him and
because he could not be a discplinarion.

The following is a bit of science, a bit of theosophy, and a bit
of my own.  I offer it as a way of answering a question raised by
Nancy as to the importance of memory:

Why is a sense of the past important?  WHY is memory important?
I think that it has to do with the personality, what it is, and
how it works.  First of all, let me say that I agree with Jerry
H-K, about Freud.  Freud's ideas about defense mechanisms, for
example have certainly proved true over the years.  I have
elsewhere noted the similarities between his id, ego, and
superego with the astral, mental, and causal bodies of theosophy.
Today there are hundreds of psychology schools.  Each was founded
by individuals who discovered methods that worked for them.  Most
psychologists and counselors today are eclectic, taking a little
from here and a little from there, and basically using whatever
works (I advocate this approach with spiritual/occult studies and
practice).  I personally lean toward Jungian psychology.  But I
realize that Jung does not have the absolute word (I recommend
Thomas Cleary's brilliant new translation of THE SECRET OF THE
GOLDEN FLOWER with commentary on some of the pitfalls and
limitations of Jung's interpretations).  Jung taught that the
psyche is like the body; composed of various interrelated organs
that all work together.  The psyche, like the body, has a genetic
or historical aspect - the collective unconscious, a psychic
Source that is shared by everyone.

Modern psychology is divided about the personality, but several
new schools of thought see it as a set/complex of relationships
rather than as a psychic-organic "thing" in the traditional
Freud/Jung sense.  What we are, according to these schools,
depends on how we relate to others.  Modern psychology also
recognizes the duality of genetics (internal influences) and
environment (external influences) - that both are necessary and
that both play important parts in determining who we are.  The
first few months of a child's life are probably the most
important in anyone's whole lifetime, because how an infant's
needs are met will preset his or her personality characteristics.
The basic relationship between infant and primary care giver has
been found to be an absolutely essential key in a child's later
development - how the child relates to others throughout his or
her entire life.  Erickson calls this first developmental stage
"trust vs mistrust" because a child will either learn to trust
others or not to trust others in its first two years of life.
In fact, modern psychology has looked into the prenatal stage of
the neonate and has determined that at least some of a child's
personality characteristics are determined prior to birth.  Of
course theosophists would see this as obvious, since they are
carried over from past lives.  Anyway, the idea is that some of
the personality of every human being is genetic (from past lives)
while some is environmental (karma).  And we are all a mixture of
the two.  Even Jung realized that the personality, like the body,
changed over time.  Buddhists have used this fact to demonstrate
that the ego is a "social fiction" with no suchness.

With all of this in mind, who are we?  Our personality is as
fragile and changing/growing as our physical body.  Yet through
all of the changes, we sense that there is a current of stability
residing somewhere within it - our sense of identity.  Yes, this
body is changing, but it is "my" body.  I was born in such and
such a year in such and such a town, and so on.  Mental health
demands this sense of continuity.  Discontinuities are always
unhealthy.  They threaten our sense of identity.  Multiple
personalities are one type of such discontinuities.  They are, in
fact, the result of one of Freud's defense mechanisms.  When life
becomes so incredibly intolerable, the personality will split in
an effort to dissociate from the unpleasant event.  For example,
psychology now knows that virtually every child that is sexually
abused will have multiple personalities as a result of coping
with the abuse.  In the old days, we would have called such a
person possessed.  Now we say that a person has multiple

Our personality is the direct result of our inherent desire for a
sense of identity.  Our monadic essence is unitary, existing
above our planetary chain of 12 globes.  Its manifestation in
spacetime (ie, on any Globe of our planetary chain) is dualistic
- having a self and not-self, or sense of I vs a sense of other.
These dual polarities of subjectivity and objectivity are
cemented together by Fohat as an active intermediary.  The Self
or subjective side of our dualistic nature demands a sense of
identity.  In the same way, our not-self (everything not included
in our definition of self) demands definition.  This desire for
definition leads the monad down the chain along the Arc of
Descent.  As the not-self or Other is further defined, it is seen
to contain other selves, and thus a host of monads sweep together
through the Globes in the form of a lifewave.  They form
agreements together as their definitions are mutually accepted or
rejected and this produces a collective karma between each
lifewave.  As the descent continues below the Abyss, definitions
take on material form.  Thus we find ourselves on Globe D with a
subjective sense of identity that perceives an objective world.
Both seem to be continuous and real.  But in fact both are
changing and temporary (changing/temporary and continuous/
permanent are themselves dualities).  The point is, our
subjective side demands continuity in order to adopt a sense of
identity which, in turn, is needed in order to function on Globe
D in a meaningful way.  The vehicle by which this demand is
carried out is memory (which is probably fohatic in nature).

Memory is the cement that holds our fragile personalities
together.  What happens when we lose our memory?  We become
dysfunctional, at best.  Life goes on, because life doesn't need
memory.  Consciousness doesn't need it.  The body doesn't need it
either (because it has its own).  But society does, and without
memory society, at least as we know it, would soon crumble.  Like
many Zen Buddhists have pointed out, the personality is a social
fiction, created by society so that we may function together in a
meaningful way.  It is, in short, part of our collective karma.
It is how we relate to one another.  It disintegrates during the
so-called second death.  And a whole new personality will be
built up during the next incarnation.  Thus the importance of
memory.  And just as the personality needs memory in order to
relate meaningfully with others during any one life, so the
Reincarnating Ego needs memory of past lives to make its cyclic
passage through the planetary chain meaningful.

Nancy, I am taking your advice and using subtitles in this
message.  Is it any help?

                              Jerry S.

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