Gnostic Psychology – part 6 (The Real and the Imaginary in a Person)

The Real and the Imaginary Human Being

“Authentic Psychology must begin with a division between the real and the imaginary in a person. It is impossible to study the human being as a whole, because he is divided into two parts:
    1. one part which is real,
    2.and the other part which is almost completely imaginary.

In the majority of ordinary people these two parts are inter-mixed, and cannot be easily distinguished, although they are both there, and both have their own particular purpose and effect.

In the system we are studying, these two parts are called essence [real] and personality [imaginary]. Essence is what is born in the human being. Personality is what is acquired.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Section 5 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


The Origin of the Essence

“What makes every newborn child beautiful and adorable is its Essence; the Essence in itself constitutes our true reality… The Essence that each one of us carries within our Interior comes from above, from Heaven, from the stars…

Unquestionably, the marvelous Essence emanates from the note “LA” of the Cosmic Octave (The Milky Way, the Galaxy we live in). The precious Essence passes through the note “SOL” (the Sun) and then passes through the note “FA” (the Planetary Zone) entering into this world and penetrating into our own interior.

Our parents created the appropriate body for the reception of this Essence that emanates from the Stars… Essence is the basis of the human being’s physical, emotional and mental makeup.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 4 (The Essence) & Ch. 5 (To Accuse Oneself) of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology


The Percent of Consciousness in the Essence

“Newly born children are marvelous. They enjoy total self-consciousness. They are totally awake.

The Essence or Consciousness is re-embodied within the body of the newly born child. This is what gives the baby its beauty.

We do not mean to state that 100% of the Essence or Consciousness is re-embodied within the newly born child; actually, only the 3% of free consciousness (that normally is not bottled up within the egos or “I’s”) is re-embodied in the newborn.

We have been wisely told that we have 97% of SUB-CONSCIOUSNESS and 3% OF CONSCIOUSNESS. The 97% of Essence that we carry within ourselves is bottled up, stuffed, inserted within each one of the “I’s” or egos which (in their conjunction) constitute the “Myself.”

Obviously, the Essence, or Consciousness, bottled up within each “I” or ego processes itself in accordance to its own condition [or conditioning].”

-paraphrase from Ch. 10 (The Different “I’s”) of Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology


The Essence and what is ‘not our own’

“A small child has no personality yet. They are what they really are. They are essence. Their affinities, tastes, likes, dislikes, express their being such as it is. But as soon as so-called ‘education’ starts, then personality begins to grow. Personality is created partly by the intentional influences of other people (that is, by formal or informal ‘education’) and partly by involuntary imitation of other people by the child themselves. In the creation of personality a great part is also played by ‘resistance’ to people around the child and by attempts to conceal from other people something that is ‘their own’ or ‘real’.”

“Essence in the human being is what is his own. Personality in the human being is what is ‘not his own’. ‘Not his own’ means what has come from outside, from what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation all this is ‘not his own’, all this is personality.”

-paraphrase from Ch.8 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Personality

“Personality is all that is learned in one way or another, whether we realize we are ‘learning it’ or not. In most cases it is learned by imitation, which plays a very important part in the building of personality.

Even in instinctive functions (which naturally should be free from personality) there are usually many so-called “acquired tastes”, that is, all sorts of artificial likes and dislikes, all of which are acquired by imitation and mechanical imagination. These artificial likes and dislikes play a very important and a “very disastrous” part in a human being’s life.

By nature, a human being should like what is good for them and dislike what is bad for them. But this is so, only as long as essence dominates personality, as it should (in other words, when a human being is healthy and normal). When personality begins to dominate essence and when a human being becomes less healthy, then they begin to like what is bad for them and to dislike what is good for them.

This is connected with the chief thing that can be wrong in the mutual relations of essence and personality. Normally, essence must dominate personality and then personality can be quite useful. But if personality dominates essence, this produces wrong results of many kinds.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Sections 6 & 7 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


The Balance of Personality and Essence

“It must be understood that personality is necessary for a human being; but it must stand in its right place. This is hardly possible, because personality is full of wrong ideas about itself. It does not wish to stand in its right place, because its right place is secondary and subordinate; and it does not wish to know the truth about itself, for to know the truth will mean abandoning its falsely dominant position, and occupying the inferior position which rightly belongs to it.

The wrong relative positions of essence and personality determine the present disharmonious state of the human being. And the only way to get out of this imbalanced state is through self-knowledge. “To know oneself” is the first principle and the first demand of the ancient mystery schools. We still remember these words, but have lost their meaning.

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Sections 6 & 7 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


Self-Knowledge and Self-Observation

“We think that to know ourselves means to know our peculiarities, our desires, our tastes, our capacities, and our intentions, when in reality it means to know ourselves as machines, that is, to know the structure of one’s machine, its parts, the functions of the different parts, the conditions governing their work, and so on.

We realize in a general way that we cannot know any machine without studying it. We must remember this in relation to ourselves and we must study ourselves, our own machines, as machines.

As we have said the primary means of study is self-observation. There is no other way and no one can do this work for us. We must do it ourselves. But before this we must learn how to observe.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Section 7 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


The Technical Side of Self-Observation

“We must understand the technical side of observation: we must know that it is necessary to observe the different functions and to distinguish between them, remembering, at the same time, about the different states of consciousness, about our psychological sleep, and about the many “I’s” or egos in us. Such observations will very soon give results.

First of all a person will notice that they cannot observe everything they find in themselves impartially. Some things may please them, other things will annoy them, irritate them, even horrify them.

This means that very soon after a man starts to observe himself, he will begin to distinguish useful features and harmful features in himself, that is, useful or harmful from the point of view of his possible self-knowledge, his possible awakening, his possible development.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Section 8 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


Mechanical Manifestations of the Personality (Lying, Imagination,
the Expression of Negative Emotions, and Unnecessary Talking)

“In observing oneself, a person must always remember that their self-study is the first step towards their possible development. Now let’s look at what are those harmful features that a person finds in themselves. Speaking in general, they are all mechanical manifestations.

1) The first is lying. Lying is unavoidable in mechanical life. No one can escape it, and the more one thinks that one is free from lying, the more one is lying to themselves. Life as it is could not exist without lying. But from the psychological perspective, lying has a different meaning. It means speaking about things one does not know, and even cannot know, as though one knows and can know.

People do not realize what a big place in their lives is occupied by lying or even if only by the suppression of the truth. People are unable to be sincere either with themselves or with others. They do not even understand that to learn to be sincere when it is necessary is one of the most difficult things on earth.”

“Starting in this way, a person very soon learns to discover signs by which they can know harmful manifestations in themselves. They discover that the more they can control a manifestation, the less harmful it can be, and that the less they can control it (or the more mechanical it is) the more harmful it can become. When a person understands this, then they become afraid of lying (not on moral grounds), but on the grounds that he/she cannot control their lying, and that lying controls them (that is: it controls their other functions).”

2) The second dangerous feature one finds in oneself is his mechanical imagination or fantasy. Very soon after a person starts self-observing they come to the conclusion that the chief obstacle to observation is so-called ‘imagination’ or day-dreaming. A man wishes to observe something, but instead of that, imagination starts in him on the same subject, and he forgets about observation. He realizes that this mechanical imagination or fantasy always carries him away from his more conscious decisions in a direction in which he had no intention of going.

Mechanical imagination is almost as bad as lying; it is, in fact, lying to oneself. A man starts to imagine something in order to please himself, and very soon he begins to believe what he imagines, or at least some of it.”

3) Further, or even before that, one finds many very dangerous effects in the expression of negative emotions. The term “negative emotions” refers to all emotions of violence or depression: self-pity, anger, suspicion, fear, annoyance, boredom, mistrust, jealousy, and so on. Ordinarily, one accepts this expression of negative emotions as quite natural and even necessary. Very often people even call it “sincerity”.

Of course it has nothing to do with sincerity; it is simply a sign of weakness in a human being, a sign of bad temper and of a person’s inability to keep their grievances to themselves. A person realizes this when one tries to oppose it. And by this one learns another lesson.

They realize that in relation to mechanical manifestations it is not enough to observe them, it is necessary to resist them, because without resisting them one cannot observe them. They happen so quickly, so habitually, and so imperceptibly, that one cannot notice them if one does not make sufficient efforts to create obstacles for them.”

4) After the expression of negative emotions one notices in oneself or in other people another curious mechanical feature. This is talking. There is no harm in talking by itself. But with some people, especially with those who notice it least, it really becomes a vice. They talk all the time, everywhere they happen to be, while working, while traveling, even while sleeping. They never stop talking to someone if there is someone to talk to, and if there is no one, then they talk to themselves.

This too must not only be observed, but resisted as much as possible. With unresisted talking one cannot observe anything, and all the results of a person’s observations will immediately evaporate in talking.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Section 9 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


How the Essence Falls Asleep (Identification and Considering)

“The difficulties a person has in observing these four manifestations, lying, mechanical imagination or fantasy (including day-dreaming), the expression of negative emotions, and unnecessary talking will show a person their utter mechanicalness, and the impossibility even of struggling against this mechanicalness without help, that is, without new knowledge and without actual assistance.

Even if a person has received certain material, they forget to use it, they forget to observe themselves; in other words, they ‘fall asleep’ again and must always be awakened. This “falling asleep” has certain definite features of its own, unknown (or at least unregistered and unnamed) in ordinary psychology. These features need special study. There are two of them.

1) The first is called identification. “Identifying” or “identification” is a curious state in which the human being passes more than half of his life. A man “identifies” with everything: with what he says, what he feels, what he believes, what he does not believe, what he wishes, what he does not wish, what attracts him, what repels him.

Everything absorbs him, and he cannot separate himself from the idea, the feeling, or the object that absorbed him. This means that in the state of identification a person is incapable of looking impartially upon the object of their identification. It is difficult to find the smallest thing with which a person is unable to “identify”.

At the same time, in a state of identification, a person has even less control over their mechanical reactions than at any other time. Manifestations such as lying, mechanical imagination or fantasy, the expression of negative emotions, and constant talking need identification. They cannot exist without identification. If a person could get rid of identification, then they could get rid of many useless and foolish manifestations.

Identification (its meaning, causes, and results) is extremely well described in the Philokalia, the ancient Christian texts for the instruction of Monks. But no trace of understanding of it can he found in modern psychology. It is a quite forgotten “psychological discovery”.

2) The second sleep-producing state, akin to identification, is considering. Actually, “considering” is identification with people or beings. It is a state in which a man constantly worries about what other people think of him; whether they give him his due, whether they admire him enough, and so on, and so on.”

Considering can actually be divided up into 2 types:
    1. External Considering is giving greater importance to the opinions, feelings, etc., of others over one’s own.
    2. Internal Considering is giving more importance to one’s own opinions, feelings, etc., than those of others.

“”Considering” plays a very important part in everyone’s life, but in some people it becomes an obsession. All their lives are filled with considering, that is, worry, doubt, and suspicion and there remains no place for anything else.

The myth of the “inferiority complex” and many other “complexes” is created by the vaguely realized but misunderstood phenomenon of “identification” and “considering.” Both “identifying” and “considering” must be observed very seriously. Only full knowledge of them can diminish their influence. If one cannot see them in oneself, one can easily see them in other people. But one must remember that one in no way differs from others. In this sense all people are equal.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 2, Section 8 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


The Personality as a Bad Secretary

Let’s summarize what we are saying about the real and imaginary parts of the human being:

“Personality is the term that is applied to everything that we acquire.

In the Gnostic Esoteric Work, the personality is sometimes compared to a bad secretary who is in the front office, who is occupied with all the ideas, concepts, preconceptions, opinions and prejudices. It has many dictionaries, encyclopedias of all types, reference books, etc., and is not in proper communication with the Brains or centers of the Human Machine, that is to say, with the intellectual, motor, emotional, instinctive and sexual center.”

The Ego uses its ‘reference material’ to translate the information it receives from the senses into wrong internal states.

“The ego is expressed through the personality and its expressions are subjective: it says what others said, it narrates what others narrated, it explains what others explained…

The personality is formed during the first seven years of life… The personality is energetic, it is born through habits, customs, ideas, etc., during the first 7 years of infancy & childhood and is fortified with the experiences of life.

The “I” or ego utilizes the personality as an instrument of action. The personality is multiple and has many hidden undertones. The karma of previous existences is deposited in it, karma in the process of fulfillment or crystallization.”

-paraphrase from Ch. From Ch. 1.43, 1.16, 1.18 & 1.25 (The Transformation of Impressions, The Laconic Action of the Being, Ahimsa: Nonviolence, & The Personality) of The Revolution of the Dialectic


Karma and the Personality

The Law of Karma is the law of cause and effect. In our Gnostic Studies, we use the term Karma to refer to the debt we have to the Universe, what we owe; and the term Dharma to refer to the credit we have with the Universe, what is owed to us.

Karma is acquired when we cause an imbalance in the universe. The Universe is always seeking for equilibrium: for a perfect homeostasis. When we create or destroy something, we are accountable and the Judges of the Law of Karma take note.

The Karma that we have belongs to the Ego (via the Personality). The Ego is the one that creates Karma because it only wants whatever it wants regardless of the outcome for others (including for other egos within ourselves) and regardless of the outcome for the Essence.

So since the false personality that we have is a vehicle for the Ego, then we must address it and start to see that our personality (our mechanical ways of thinking and feeling, our habits, etc.) only serves to make us acquire more Karma. This is why we must observe ourselves and discover how we are allowing the Ego to use our personality and our human machine.


The Growth of the Personality and the Essence

“Essence is the truth in the human being; personality is the false. But in proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself less and less and it very often happens that essence stops (in its growth) at a very early age and grows no further.

It often happens that the essence of a grown-up human being, even that of a very intellectual and highly ‘educated’ person, stops on the level of a child of five or six. This means that everything we see in this person is, in reality, ‘not his own’. What is their own (their essence) is usually only manifested in their instincts and in their simplest emotions.

There are cases, however, when a person’s essence grows in parallel with their personality. Such cases represent very rare exceptions especially in the circumstances of so-called ‘cultured’ life. Essence has more chances of development in people who live nearer to nature in difficult conditions of constant struggle and danger. But as a rule the personality of such people is not very developed. They have more of what is their own, but very little of what is ‘not their own’, that is to say, they lack education and instruction, they lack culture.

Culture creates personality and is at the same time the product and the result of personality. We do not realize that the whole of our life, everything we call civilization, all we call science, philosophy, art, and politics, is created by people’s personality, that is, by what is ‘not their own’ in them. The element that is ‘not our own’ (personality) differs from what is ‘our own’ (essence) by the fact that it can be lost, altered, or taken away by artificial means…”

-paraphrase from Ch.8 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Balance of Essence and Personality

“Development is equally difficult for a cultured or an uncultured person. A cultured person lives far from nature, far from natural conditions of existence, in artificial conditions of life, developing their personality at the expense of their essence. A less cultured person, living in more normal and more natural conditions, develops their essence at the expense of their personality.

A successful beginning of working upon oneself requires the happy balance of an equal development of both personality and essence. Such a balance will give the greatest assurance of success.”

-paraphrase from Ch.8 of In Search of the Miraculous


Activating the Essence and Making the Personality Passive (Part 1)

A very important moment in the work upon oneself is when a person begins to distinguish between their personality and their essence. A person’s real individuality can only grow from their essence. It can be said that a person’s true individuality is their essence, grown up, mature. But in order to enable essence to grow up, it is first of all necessary to weaken the constant pressure of personality upon it, because the obstacles to the growth of essence are contained in personality.

If we take an average cultured human being, we shall see that in the vast majority of cases their personality is the active element in them while their essence is the passive element. The inner growth of a person cannot begin so long as this order of things remains unchanged. Personality must become passive and essence must become active.

-paraphrase from Ch.8 of In Search of the Miraculous