The alignment and unification of our personality with our true self is an important aspect of the spiritual path. If our personality remains unintegrated, it will interfere with the proper embodiment of our soul, and our psychological tendencies will distract us from our internal evolution.
What is personality? It can be likened to a hologram, a complex psychological self that is constantly being recreated by our subconscious mind, which projects an image of our human identity both to ourselves and to others. In order to transform this hologram, we must bring consciousness to it so that it can begin to evolve into our higher personality. Higher personality is one which is aligned with the light of our soul.
Despite the common misconception that enlightenment dissolves personality, personality cannot and should not be eliminated. Without personality, we could not exist or function on the human level. Personality has its place in our existence in the relative realm, is an important aspect of our spiritual evolution, and should become a positive and transparent expression of our divine self.
Dimension of Lower Personality
Lower personality is dominated by the acquired conditioning and underlying belief systems of the collective me. It has no connection to one’s individuality. In other words, there is no link between lower personality and essence-me. People appear to be autonomous and unique beings who are responsible for their own existence on the surface, but when we look inside their consciousness, we see that they are no more than mildly personalized variations of the collective mind. They are not in control of their thinking processes, and who they think they are is determined by unconscious impulses and fragmented fluctuations of the subconscious mind. Their minds and lower personalities are comprised of a bundle of acquired memories, conditionings, and mental impressions held together by a rudimentary observer which gives them the illusion of being in control of their lives.
A collective me lives in a dream, or more aptly described, a nightmare. It is born into a dream, and it dies in a dream. It truly lives a ghost’s life, the life of a phantom, as a psychological hologram of personality held together by an essence-me that is unconscious of itself. It is no wonder that after analyzing the human mind, Buddhist thinkers concluded that there is no self. Their mistake was to think that there is no self in the awakened reality either. The collective me has no self because it is too unconscious to have one. We acquire a clear, solid sense of self through our conscious evolution into our higher subjectivity.
Lower personality is experienced in the pre-individual consciousness before our me has awakened. It is comprised of two levels, or stages: collective personality and egoic personality. As the name implies, at the level of collective personality, a person is entirely collective. The difference between two collective personalities is purely circumstantial. For example, a German collective personality is different to a Japanese one because they have been born into and shaped by different sets of national and cultural circumstances; they have developed in different regions of collective consciousness. Collective personality is characterized by undeveloped intelligence and no access to even basic free will, because such people are totally ruled by their subconscious minds. A collective personality appears to be making choices, but these choices are entirely conditioned, rather than being linked to any level of conscious intelligence.
Egoic personality represents the level of lower personality where the mind is becoming more developed. Here, one gains a modicum of free will. The passage from collective personality to egoic personality still takes place within collective me, but at this stage, collective me begins to develop a center of ego, the observer. There are many levels within egoic personality, from the very basic to the much more sophisticated. Egoic personality is reflected in science, philosophy, and art, because at this stage, we start to wonder about life, question reality, seek understanding and purpose and develop a philosophy of life. Such a personality gradually begins to look for a higher meaning to its existence. While at its basic stages egoic personality is almost indistinguishable from collective personality, the more evolved levels of egoic personality are able to develop higher personal qualities, such as discrimination, strength, and compassion.
At its highest level, egoic personality begins to experience the spiritual longing to reunite itself with essence-me. We call this stage ‘threshold-personality’. When that threshold is crossed, one is able to meet and awaken to one’s true subjectivity, which is beyond personality. There are many people who reach threshold-personality but who never cross it. Either their longing is not clearly recognized by their intelligence – meaning their intelligence somehow cannot fully comprehend it – or they lack sufficient spiritual character, strength, and integrity to cross over to the real me. Moving beyond the threshold-personality is the only way to evolve out of the dimension of forgetfulness and into one’s spiritual self.
The awakening to our real me is the point at which we begin to evolve into our higher self, and yet many steps must follow before our pure subjectivity is fully realized. This process cannot become complete until our personality is aligned with our soul and transformed into the higher personality. So firstly, our inner me crosses this threshold (awakening to the real me), and then our personality itself has to cross this threshold into the soul. When the human me is not transformed and aligned with our real me, it remains stuck in egoic personality. Here, not only will it block our further evolution, but it may also corrupt it. Why do many seekers who experience various levels of awakening nevertheless continue to succumb to their lower nature? It is because they have not moved beyond their egoic personality. Unless our personality moves beyond egoic personality, it will hold our real me back from evolving beyond a very basic awakening.
When egoic personality retains negative qualities and patterns, it will try to claim ownership of our spiritual achievements and exploit them for its own purposes. It will want to become a guru, and it will claim to be enlightened, even though only a basic level of spiritual awakening may have been attained. Through being infatuated in furthering its human desires and ambitions, ego will distract us from our spiritual path and goals. Negative karma can be created in this way, because as one evolves spiritually, one assumes more responsibility for how one uses free will. Consequently, the transformation of our lower personality is essential so that it too can contribute to our soul’s highest purpose on her journey to spiritual completion.
Realm of the Higher Personality
When the human me moves beyond the egoic personality, we enter the realm of higher personality, where our human self becomes increasingly aligned with consciousness and the soul’s purpose. There are four main levels of higher personality: conscious personality, integrated personality, unified personality, and transparent personality. It is also possible to remain in-between egoic and conscious personality. One can become stuck in this intermediate state where personality has become more conscious but still refuses to move beyond its excessive identification with the lower egoic self. An exaggerated attachment to one’s egoic self-image – for instance, that one is a healer, or a saint, or one is driving one’s spiritual progress – is enough to serve as the ego’s excuse to remain trapped in its lower personality. To truly move beyond the egoic personality means that the base of our identity has become established in our real me, and that our human sense of self no longer controls us but is experienced from, and as an ambassador of, our pure nature.
Conscious personality is the first level of our higher personality. Not only must we become conscious of our inner self, but personality has to become conscious of itself as well. The term ‘conscious personality’ does not refer to a personality that has a degree of psychological self-awareness (important as that is). Rather, it means that we have embodied the three centers of our human identity: mental me (the sense of me behind the observer), feeling me (the human sense of me in the heart), and emotional me (the sense of me in the emotional center of solar plexus). Unless the human becomes as conscious as possible in this deeper sense, personality cannot be transformed, and it we will remain a victim of the random fluctuations of our psychological reality. Most people’s personalities are not connected to any identity whatsoever: they think without knowing who is thinking, and they feel without knowing who is feeling. Unless personality becomes conscious, it will not be in alignment with the soul.
Conscious personality is, firstly, a union of the three centers of human identity properly embodied and clearly accessed by one’s pure subjectivity. Secondly, conscious personality has awakened the higher intention to renounce the false and to serve the soul. Without such a clearly defined intention, one will be unable to leave the lower egoic personality and cross over into one’s higher self. It is through our intention that the higher qualities of the seeker are forged. These qualities include sincerity, dedication, courage, patience, self-love, and uncompromising devotion to the soul.
The more access we have to our true self, the more power we have to transform personality. Such clear access begins with the three centers of consciousness: conscious me, pure conscious me, and pure me of consciousness. However, even if only one of these centers is awakened, it should give one a sufficient platform to begin the alignment of one’s personality. In short, we can define conscious personality as one in which we have become conscious of the three centers of the human (or better yet, embodied them to a degree), as well as become one with the higher intention to serve the actualization of our soul.
When one has sufficiently embodied the human centers of identity, one can step back from thoughts and emotions for the first time by shifting one’s attention to their subject, the experiencer. For instance, if one is hurt emotionally, instead of becoming identified with and lost in the pain being experienced, one will now have a sense of freedom and integrity through being based in the identity of the feeling me, the subject to the experience. Instead of the experience of being lost in pain, one can naturally feel pain while being rooted in one’s subjective identity at the same time. Thus, one is able to balance the identification with emotions with one’s subjective autonomy from it. And when our subjective identity is strengthened, and additionally supported through having access to our fuller real me, our relationship with our personality will transform even further. Personality will increasingly shift into a secondary identity, becoming more subservient to our higher spiritual self.
The second level of higher personality occurs when it has become more integrated. What mainly differentiates integrated personality from conscious personality is that our inner self has largely now been embodied, established, and strengthened as the new main center of our identity – who we are is no longer experienced from personality, but from the soul. A byproduct of this deeper embodiment is that our mind and psychological self will also increasingly be perceived from this new and higher identity. When experienced in this way, personality will naturally begin to align itself with our pure nature and will be purified and healed through the soul. Each stage in the evolution of our higher personality will then commensurate with higher purification, which in turn relaxes the resistance of lower personality to surrender and allows the soul to be embodied even further as our fundamental identity.
The third level of higher personality is unified personality. At this stage, our human aspect has surrendered to the soul. What this means is that the three centers of human identity have surrendered to their respective centers of the soul: mental me has surrendered to conscious me, and through it, to pure conscious me and pure me of consciousness; feeling me has surrendered to pure me of the heart; and emotional me has surrendered to emotional pure me. At this level, our human self is fully experienced from the soul, and we will also have gone through the further process of purification and healing which corresponds with this deepening on level of personality.
The fourth level of higher personality is transparent personality. On one level, this transparency refers to the fact that it no longer obstructs the complete embodiment of the soul. In addition, it points to the fact that the human aspect’s surrender has been completed, so our human aspect has now become the soul’s transparent expression. So while the first three stages of higher personality represent its evolution into the soul, the fourth one represents the integrative step from the soul back into personality. This stage is somewhat analogous to the tenth ox-herding picture in Zen, ‘returning to the market place’, in which we experience our human identity in a natural and relaxed way as a playful manifestation and adornment of our pure nature.
It is important to emphasize that our personality is not meant to be perfect, but rather just sufficiently integrated to serve the soul’s ongoing evolution. The idea of human perfection, or the ‘human saint’, is a creation of ego, a religious fantasy. Our personality, which lives in the realm of imperfection, was never intended to be perfect. Rather, it is meant to reach a degree of natural and transparent harmony, purity, and kindness. Perfection only exists in our pure nature, and that is where we need to find it. Certainly, as personality progresses through the different levels, it matures and is significantly purified on many levels. It is also important to have experiences in the world so that personality can mature emotionally. This helps it to prepare for its surrender to the soul.
It must be kept in mind that the qualities of the seeker – such as strength, integrity, gratitude, sensitivity, and discrimination – are formed in our personality. If personality is undeveloped and immature, awakening our real me is an impossibility. In an ideal scenario, personality has already been sufficiently formed on the level of egoic personality before entering the path. In this way, it can make an easy transition into higher personality. But this is not usually the case, and so we need to develop our personality after the attainment of the threshold-personality. Such development includes awakening our passion for truth, aspiring to grow spiritually, becoming honest about who we are, and growing in the sincerity of our intention. For our personality to be transformed into an aspect of ourselves which supports the soul’s continuing evolution, rather than obstructing it, we must nourish a deep love for our real self and an unconditional devotion to the light of our me as both the source of our self-worth and our destination.
While healing and purification of personality are essential parts of our journey to wholeness, they cannot happen unless it is connected to the soul. Only the light of our higher self can purify our countless negative tendencies. But the soul cannot do this unless we embody her light and agree to surrender our human aspect. The surrender of the human is the price we have to pay to receive the grace of purification. In addition, we must actively renounce our negative psychological tendencies. Many of the negative mental and emotional manifestations are not meant to be healed, but rather just dropped or let go of. There is no healing for neurosis; one simply has to stop being neurotic and obsessive. This is accomplished through activating one’s higher intention and one’s commitment to spiritual growth as one’s highest priority. Such strong intention and commitment will actually invite grace itself to help one, with the consequence that the false will be let go of. Using the level of free will one has in this way means that one will no longer willingly invest energy in negative tendencies.
If one has been deeply hurt in life, healing comes about through dissolving the past memory of it in the subconscious. But this can only happen once one is sufficiently conscious, including being one with one’s feeling me and being surrendered to the spiritual heart of the soul. Some of our pain is not even supposed to be fully healed, but is meant to be integrated (or in some cases, let go of) if it was based on a mistaken interpretation of events. To be a human is also to accept and embrace one’s pain with dignity, and to use it as a higher motivation to transcend the dimension of illusion. Some level of pain and suffering will inevitably come simply from one’s existence, at one level, being in a transitory physical realm where entropy is one of the unavoidable operating laws.
As far as impurities of the mind are concerned, we must take increasing responsibility for how we are using the mind and indulging in negativity. Each thought is an internal action, and as such, they create karma; it is no wonder we create our reality to a very large extent through our thoughts. Renouncing neurotic, compulsive, and other negative patterns or thoughts is an important part of the alignment of our personality with our higher self. For this, our higher intention is also required, together with mastering the mind through embodying the guardian of the thought-threshold, which is none other than the properly awakened conscious me. Once this is done, when we think it will be because we have chosen to, not because we are compelled to through being puppets to our subconscious mind. Some impurities of the mind do need to be healed and purified, but most of them just need to be renounced through becoming aware of them and then using our internal discipline to let go of the false. Once those are cleared away, the remaining impurities can be cleansed by the light of soul.
Our higher personality is the human vessel of the soul through which she lives in creation, the realm of manifestation. Such a precious vessel has to be conscious, integrated, and unified with the soul, and it must be rendered transparent to become a true and beautiful expression of our divine self.
For a definition of the terminology used, please visit the. for a printable version of this article.