Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.… Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."
- Ephesians 5:8-9, 13-14
Last week's session reviewed the levels of humanity and reminded us that as self-developing organisms, we have the opportunity to awaken and evolve in being to new levels of consciousness, balanced centers and connection to higher centers. This week's session explores the necessary existence of personality and its role in the awakening process. Just as on the macrocosm of humanity there are levels of Man, so within the microcosm of the self, there are levels of consciousness and being, which is also another description of the multiplicity within.
What is personality?
"[P]ersonality [is], in a right and useful sense, from the Latin 'persona', a player's mask, through which the actor speaks. Right personality stands between the essence of man and the outside world. It is his psychological 'skin', his protection from life and means of adjusting to it. It includes all that he has learned about orientating his organism among his surroundings, the way he has learned to speak, think, walk, behave and so on, all his acquired habits and idiosyncrasies. Only in ordinary man this adaptation to life, this savoir faire which enables him to protect his inner life from unnecessary shocks and distractions, is so inextricably mixed with pretense and invented attitudes, that the two are quite inseparable. We have to take them as one phenomenon, as personality, which even at its best is something unreal, without material substance."
- Rodney Collin, The Theory of Celestial Influence
It's important to stop here and underscore a very important point: Personality is a good and necessary interface for incarnation on this plane of existence, with a vital role in facilitating survival, learning, the digestion of impressions and relationships with others. It is only over time in navigating the human condition that its role usually becomes outsized in its prominence, more exaggerated in its place. Thus, it is not to be judged or denigrated, but invited into right expression within the wholeness of self.
Let us continue on:
"We can gain further understanding of the nature of personality, when we realize that this light which he reflects is exactly what he does not absorb. What is most obvious about a man is what he rejects and the particular manner in which he rejects it. He is recognized by what he does not yet understand, by that which separates him from the rest. This is his personality. When he really understands and absorbs something, it enters into him and becomes part of his essence. It is then no longer apparent to others as his personality -- it is he, and he is it. The separateness characteristic of personality has disappeared.
"The same idea can be put in a different way. A man takes in food. But a long digestive process goes on before this food is sufficiently refined to enter his bloodstream and thus become inseparably absorbed into his organism. Until this happens the food is not part of him, he may even be sick and lose it altogether.
"Similarly, a man takes in experience. But a long digestive process goes on before this experience is understood and mastered to the point where it actually modifies his physical essence. This digestion of experience takes place in and through personality. And like food in process of digestion, experience or understanding which is only in personality may at any time be lost. Only when, by insistence and repetition, has it entered into essence does it become inalienably his. Personality is the organ of digestion for experience."
- Rodney Collin, The Theory of Celestial Influence
Another important point to emphasize: as understanding grows, the distorted aspects of personality have the possibility of realigning with essence and expressing at a higher level. Through effort and grace, we can participate in the evolution toward this wholeness, a wholeness magnified as we awaken to the Indwelling Presence.
"The more nearly a man knows himself for what he is, the nearer he approaches wisdom. The more his imagination about himself diverges from what he actually is, the madder he becomes. … There is, however, one possibility of healing this delusion. This is the potentiality which exists in man, of becoming conscious of his own existence and of his relation to the surrounding universe. For in the moment in which he is conscious of his existence, he knows what he is and what he is not …. In the same moment he also knows what is in him and what is outside of him -- that is, he knows himself and his relation to the world.
"Self-remembering, and Self-remembering only, thus enables a man to [heal] the outer skin of personality, and to feel and act freely from his essence, that is, to be himself. In this way he may separate himself from the pretenses and imitations which have enslaved him since childhood, and return to what he actually is, return to his own essential nature. Such return to essence is accompanied by a sense of freedom and liberation, unlike any other …."
- Rodney Collin, The Theory of Celestial Influence
The Enneagram and Personality
Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born, I consecrated you.
- Jeremiah 1:5
Later this year in The Journey School, we will be covering the law of three, the law of seven and the enneagram that is unique to the Fourth Way, the cosmic enneagram, one that is not at all the same as the mainstream personality versions taught today.
However for this discussion of personality and essence, let us turn to how the modern-day versions of the enneagram of personality can be useful tools. In her book, Centering Prayer and the Law of Three, Cynthia Bourgeault, a long-time student of the Work, writes, "The enneagram of personality has captured the popular imagination, that's for sure. And you have to admit that there is something brilliant and even damnably strategic in its design. Using that classic ego bait — 'let me learn my type, some interesting new thing about me' —it draws people in, only to put in their hands basic tools for self-observation and non-identification. … Progressing enneagram students rapidly develop the capacity to see that they are in fact not their type; it is simply an impersonal, mechanical pattern that plays out within them."
Richard Rohr adds, "If taken seriously and used responsibly, the enneagram [of personality] is a tool that can help us move from dualistic thinking [right/wrong, false self/true Self, personality/essence] to nondual consciousness. It helps us recognize and forgive the paradoxes that we all carry, what we might call our 'sins.' The enneagram shows us how we continually do things we don't want to do (our fixations, passions, and patterns) and can't quite seem to do the things we want (see Romans 7:15-20)."
In two short paragraphs these master teachers tease out the essential when it comes to using the enneagram of personality as a tool for awakening:
It fast-tracks self-knowledge because we can verify within ourselves through self-observation the patterns described by each type.
When used rightly, it helps us non-identify with mechanical patterns and Self-remember into a larger context beyond the patterns and types.
So, for many of us, the enneagram of personality may be a useful tool of self-observation in mapping unconscious patterns and motivations, as well as growing in compassion and understanding of others.
However, if over time, we continue to identify as our type – "I'm a three" or "I'm an eight" – we're missing the point and simply reinforcing identification.The Law of Seven is in play here, in the sense that the use of the tool starts off with one intention – to awaken – but becomes its opposite – asleep in identification – where no application of conscious shockwas made to correct the process along the way.
So, for any of us who are still referring to ourselves as our type and have crystallized in this attitude, let this be a conscious shock. The invitation is to Self-remember beyond this and any and all identification.
"The direction of the work is spiritual. In order to respond to it, the soul [essence] has to grow and the vanity of personality has to shrink. All the work of preparation anticipates either the one or the other aspect of this change. What is the key to the process? It is to be sincere, to be honest, to be truthful. To be sincere means to find oneself, one's own way, one's own fate, without pretension, without imitation and without fear. To be honest means to pay one's debts to the extent that one can, in order to be able to be free to offer oneself to higher service without other obligation; to realize that everything that is good has its price that has to be paid by someone. To be truthful means little by little to abandon the subjective point of view based on likes and dislikes, and consider everything on the basis of objective laws, on divine truth. That is the preparation."
- Rodney Collin, TheTheory of Conscious Harmony
In Your Light,
I see only Light.
- Psalm 36
- When we really understand and absorb something, it enters into us and becomes part of our essence. If personality is the organ of digestion of experience, we must ask ourselves, "How can I consciously digest the experiences and impressions of this time?" Are the impressions of life falling on negative emotions and associations? How might I practice Self-remembering through first conscious shock – through taking impressions in a new way? What tools of the Work can I apply to myself to facilitate the transformation of impressions within my being? You might look back on prior emails for some suggestions or ask friends in the Work.
- All are encouraged and welcome to attend tonight's class via Zoom onlyat 7pm Central time for a review of these teachings and how they are landing in you. Note that everyone attending via Zoom will now have the opportunity to share and ask questions.
Open Zoom, click on Join Meeting and enter this meeting ID: 254-442-699
Resources for Review:
- Read more about personality in the chapter "Human Psychology" in The Theory of Celestial Influence.
- Read more about the enneagram of personality through a series of archived daily meditations hosted by the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) during February and March 2020. You can start here and explore further.
- The class content archive is organized by class and class date. If you click on the title of each class, you'll find the associated content, which may include a video/video transcript (if one was included in the session), a free mp3 of the class recording and class notes.
- Definitions to specific Work terms are linked within this email and a complete list of terms discussed thus far may be found here in the glossary archive.
Here are suggestions for creating sacred space as preparation for the Thursday class:
Prior to class time, refrain from listening to the news, mulling over the day's events, planning for tomorrow, or engaging in unneeded conversation; perhaps listen to chanting or other sacred music, or simply abide in the silence.
Turn-off phones, shut the door of the room in which you will be viewing, perhaps leaving shoes outside the door.
Place an icon or light a candle in the space in which you will be viewing the class. As you light the candle, affirm the presence of Christ as the Light of the world, the Light that is within and without.
Take a moment to breathe deeply, relax and let go of the concerns of life: "I am here now."
Plan on being in one's seat and enter the Zoom meeting space by 6:55 pm CDT.
At the close of class, spend a few minutes in silence.