Beyond the Personality


Meditations on Finding the True Self

Constance had asked for an explanation about the difference between what she called her “ego self” and her “true self.” After a moment of shared meditation, words fell inexplicably from my mouth.

“We are born with Essence. Personality is acquired in and by life. Yet most of us are delusional and operate out of what the spiritual teacher Gurdjieff called a ‘false personality.’ We do not know who we are.

Devoted inner exploration can reveal perspectives about ourselves that prove to be untrue. First, we uncover the attributes of ‘false personality.’ With this we begin to discover who we are not.

Then through that same inner work practiced at depth over time a glimpse of Essence emerges. The personality is seen to be a shell within which the Soul resides. We see that we are not our personality any more than we are our physical selves.

With still more time, more patience and more practice the personality recedes. What remains is a truer expression, what some might call True Self, a much closer approximation of Essence that many call Soul.”

An Experience of Awareness

On the morning after the interaction with Constance described above, I slipped into awareness very early in the morning. I was not awake in the sense that we think of being awake, rather I found myself in a netherworld.

I rested in that space of stillness and was aware that the personality had not yet emerged for the day. The I of me was all that existed in that time.

I felt reticence about allowing the personality and the affairs of the day to take hold. While I had toppled into such an experience before, this was the first overtly conscious experience.

Clarity came through various realizations.

This is where innate innocence resides within each of us.

No wonder walking the world is stressful. It is no surprise we seek distraction and addiction. And likewise no surprise the world frustrates us.

If one could hold this awareness, it would be possible to wear the personality and the affairs of the world as a loose cloak.

Meditation practice is where we seek this space more deliberately.

Seeing True

I am not who I thought I was. I am also not my personality or my physical self.

The purpose of the spiritual path is to find True Self, the Soul of me. This comes about through identification and removal of that which blocks me off from seeing and experiencing it. We don’t find ourselves, rather True Self emerges as our attachments to false selves fall away.

Seeing True in Action

Since it is not possible to experience the Soul of me from within the personality, what practices can you put into place that could facilitate it?

  • Meditation practice?

  • Spiritual counsel?

  • Journaling and personal inventory work?

  • Practices of inquiry?

Which of these do you practice? Which would you be willing to practice? What will you do today to begin?

 Updated March, 2019