Gnostic Psychology – part 7 (Essence vs. Personality and its Mechanisms)


Activating the Essence and Making the Personality Passive (Part 2)

“The development of the Essence depends on the work upon oneself. …Personality must become passive and essence must become active. This can happen only if ‘buffers’ are removed or weakened, because ‘buffers’ are the chief weapon with which personality holds essence in subjection.

…For inner growth, for the work upon oneself, a certain development of personality as well as a certain strength of essence are necessary. Personality consists of ‘rolls’, and of ‘buffers’ resulting from a certain work of the centers.

An insufficiently developed personality means a lack of ‘rolls’, that is, a lack of knowledge, a lack of information, a lack of the material on which the work upon oneself must be based.

Without some store of knowledge, without a certain amount of material ‘not one’s own’ [personality], a person cannot begin to work on themselves, they cannot begin to study themselves, they cannot begin to struggle with their mechanical habits, simply because there will be no reason or motive for undertaking such work.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.7 of In Search of the Miraculous


The ‘Rolls’ of Memory and Impressions

“What is our memory, according to Gnostic Psychology? In order to understand this, we must learn to regard each center as a separate and independent machine, consisting of a sensitive matter similar to a mass of photographic rolls, [or a very special roll of “film” or recording material].

All that happens to us, all that we see, all that we hear, all that we feel, all that we learn is registered on these rolls. This means that all external events and internal states leave certain “impressions” on the rolls.

“Impressions” is a very good word because they actually are impressions or imprints left within ourselves. An impression can be deep, or it can be very slight, or it can be simply a glancing impression that disappears very quickly and leaves no trace after it. But whether deep or slight they are, nonetheless, impressions. And these impressions on rolls are all that we have, they are all our possessions.

Everything that we know, everything that we have learned, everything that we have experienced is all there on our rolls.

Exactly in the same way all our thought processes, calculations, speculations, consist only of comparing the inscriptions on rolls, reading them again and again, trying to understand them by putting them together, and so on.

So long as we are not developed, we can think of nothing new, nothing that is not on our rolls. We can neither say nor do anything that does not correspond to some inscription on the rolls.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 3, Section 7 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


Impressions and Associations

“Inscriptions or impressions on rolls are connected by associations. Associations connect impressions that are either received simultaneously or in some way similar to one another.

It is quite clear that different simultaneous impressions connected together will remain longer in memory than unconnected impressions. All impressions of a moment of an external event are connected and remain connected in the memory [through some sort of association]. The same [is also true] with impressions connected [together] by their inner similarity.

If one is more conscious at the moment of receiving impressions, then one more definitely connects the new impressions with similar old impressions and they remain connected in memory. On the other hand if one receives impressions in a state of identification, then one simply does not notice them, and their traces disappear before they can be consciously appreciated or associated.

In the state of identification one does not see and one does not hear. One is completely in one’s grievance, or in one’s desire, or in one’s imagination or fantasy (day-dream) [in regards to the Object of one’s identification]. One cannot separate oneself from things or feelings or memories, and one is completely shut off from [access to] the world around.”

-paraphrase from Lecture 3, Section 7 of The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution


Our Mistaken Way of Thinking 1

“We often think in a very naïve way. We already think we can do. To get rid of this conviction is more difficult than almost anything else…

We do not understand all the complexity of our organization and we do not realize that every effort, in addition to the results desired (even if it gives these), also gives thousands of unexpected and often undesirable results, and the chief thing that we forget is that we are not starting from the beginning with a nice clean, new machine.

There stand behind us many years of a wrong and stupid life, of indulgence in every kind of weakness, of shutting our eyes to our own errors, of striving to avoid all unpleasant truths, of constant lying to ourselves, of self-justification, of blaming others, and so on, and so on. All this certainly affects the machine.

The machine is ‘dirty’, in places it is ‘rusty’, and in some places artificial appliances have been formed, the necessity for which has been created by its own wrong way of working. These artificial appliances will now interfere very much with all our good intentions. They are called ‘buffers’.

‘Buffer’ is a term which requires special explanation. [Buffers on railway carriages are like bumpers on automobiles]. They are the devices which lessen the shock when carriages or trucks strike one another.

If there were no buffers the shock of one carriage or truck against another would be very unpleasant and dangerous. Buffers soften the results of these shocks and render them unnoticeable and imperceptible.

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.5 of In Search of the Miraculous


Buffers within the Human Machine

“Exactly the same appliances are to be found within the human being. They are created, not by nature, but by human beings themselves, although involuntarily. The cause of their appearance is the existence in a person of many contradictions; contradictions of opinions, feelings, sympathies, words, and actions.

If a person throughout the whole of their life were to feel all the contradictions that are within themselves they could not live and act as calmly as they live and act now. They would have constant friction, constant unrest.

We often fail to see how contradictory and hostile the different “I’s” or egos of our personality are to one another. If a person were to feel all these contradictions then they would feel what they really are. They would feel that they are crazy.

It is not pleasant to anyone to feel that they are crazy. Moreover, a thought such as this deprives a person of self-confidence, weakens their energy, and deprives them of ‘self-respect’. Somehow or other one must master this thought or banish it. One must either destroy contradictions or cease to see and to feel them.

A person cannot destroy contradictions. But if ‘buffers’ are created in us, then we can cease to feel the contradictions and we will not feel the impact from the clash of contradictory views, contradictory emotions, contradictory words, etc.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.5 of In Search of the Miraculous


Buffers Lessen Shocks

“ ‘Buffers’ are created slowly and gradually. Very many ‘buffers’ are created artificially through ‘education’. Others are created under the hypnotic influence of one’s surrounding life.

A person is surrounded by people who live, speak, think, and feel by means of ‘buffers’. Imitating them in their opinions, actions, and words, a person involuntarily creates similar ‘buffers’ in themselves.

‘Buffers’ make a person’s life easier. It is very hard to live without ‘buffers’.

But they keep a person from the possibility of inner development because ‘buffers’ are made to lessen shocks and it is only shocks that can lead a person out of the state (or level of being) in which they live, that is, only shocks awaken a person.

‘Buffers’ lull a person to sleep, they give them the agreeable and peaceful sensation that all will be well, that no contradictions exist and that they can sleep in peace. ‘Buffers’ are appliances by means of which a person can always be in the right.

‘Buffers’ help a person not to feel their conscience. In ordinary life the concept ‘conscience’ is taken too simply… Actually the concept ‘conscience’ in the sphere of the emotions is equivalent to the concept ‘consciousness’ in the sphere of the intellect.”

Meaning, just like we think we are conscious of what we do, we also often feel that we have a conscience…

“And since we have no Consciousness we have no conscience. Consciousness is a state in which a person knows all at once everything that they know in general and in which they can see how little they do know and how many contradictions there are in what they know. Conscience is a state in which a person feels all at once everything that they in general feel, or can feel.

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.5 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Reality of Buffers

“And as everyone has within themselves thousands of contradictory feelings which vary from a deeply hidden realization of their own nothingness and fears of all kinds to the most stupid kind of self-conceit, self-confidence, self-satisfaction, and self-praise, etc., and to feel all this together would not only be painful but literally unbearable.

If a person whose entire inner world is composed of contradictions were suddenly to feel all these contradictions simultaneously within themselves, if they were to feel all at once that they love everything they hate and hate everything they love; that they lie when they tell the truth and that they tell the truth when they lie; and if they could feel the shame and horror of it all, this would be the state which is called ‘awakened consciousness’.

Since a person cannot live in this state; then they must either destroy contradictions or destroy conscience.

We cannot destroy conscience, but if we cannot destroy it then we can put it to sleep, that is, we can separate (by impenetrable barriers) one feeling of self from another, never seeing them together, never feeling their incompatibility, nor the absurdity of one existing alongside another.

But fortunately for the human being, that is, for one’s so-called “peace of mind” and psychological ‘sleep’, this state of conscience is very rare.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.5 of In Search of the Miraculous


Destroying Buffers to Awaken Consciousness

“From early childhood ‘buffers’ begin to grow and strengthen in a person, taking from them the possibility of seeing their inner contradictions and therefore, for that person, there is no danger whatsoever of a sudden awakening.

Awakening is possible only for those who seek it and want it, for those who are ready to struggle with themselves and work on themselves for a very long time and very persistently in order to attain it.

For this it is necessary to destroy ‘buffers’, that is, to go out to meet all those inner sufferings which are connected with the sensations of contradictions. Moreover the destruction of ‘buffers’ in itself requires very long work and a person must agree to this work realizing that the result of their work will be every possible discomfort and suffering for the awakening of their conscience.

“Conscience is the only thing that can create the unity which a person lacks in that state in which they begin to study themselves. …This conscience is not suffering; on the contrary it is joy of a totally new character which we are unable to understand.

But even a momentary awakening of conscience or consciousness in a person who has thousands of different “I’s” or egos is bound to involve suffering. And if these moments of consciousness become longer and if a person does not fear them but on the contrary cooperates with them and tries to keep and prolong them, then an element of very subtle joy, a foretaste of the future ‘clear consciousness’ will gradually enter into these moments.”

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.5 of In Search of the Miraculous


Understanding Buffers

“As has been explained before, there are many qualities which people attribute to themselves, which in reality can belong only to people of a higher degree of development… Individuality, a single and permanent “I”, consciousness, willpower, the ability to do, a state of inner freedom, all these are qualities which (according to Gnostic Psychology) ordinary people do not possess.

To the same category belongs the idea of good and evil, the very existence of which is connected with a permanent aim, with a permanent direction and a permanent center of gravity. The idea of good and evil is sometimes connected with the idea of truth and falsehood.

But just as good and evil do not exist for the ordinary human being, neither do truth and falsehood exist. Permanent truth and permanent falsehood can exist only for a permanent human being.

If a man continually changes, then for him truth and falsehood will also continually change. And if people are all in different states at every given moment, then their conceptions of truth must be as varied as their conceptions of good.

A man rarely notices how he begins to regard as true what yesterday he considered as false and vice versa. He does not notice these transitions just as he does not notice the transitions of his own “I’s” or egos from one into another.

In the life of an ordinary person truth and falsehood have no moral value of any kind because a person can never keep to a single truth. Their “truth” changes. If for a certain time it does not change, it is simply because the truth is kept by ‘buffers’. Consequently their truth and their falsehood have no [objective] value; neither one depends upon the person, both of them depend upon buffers.

And this is equally true when applied to a person’s words, to their thoughts, their feelings, and to their conceptions of truth and falsehood. In order to understand the interrelation of truth and falsehood in life a person must understand falsehood in him or herself, the constant incessant lies he or she tells themselves.

These lies are created by ‘buffers’. In order to destroy the lies in oneself as well as lies told unconsciously to others, ‘buffers’ must be destroyed. But then how can a person live without ‘buffers’?”

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


Buffers and the Psychological Work

“ ‘Buffers’ automatically control a person’s actions, words, thoughts, and feelings. If ‘buffers’ were to be destroyed all [mechanically learned] control would disappear.

A person cannot exist without control even though it is only an automatic or mechanical control. Only a person who possesses conscious willpower, that is, conscious control, can live without ‘buffers’.

Consequently, if a person begins to destroy ‘buffers’ within themselves they must at the same time develop conscious willpower. And as willpower cannot be created in a short space of time a person may be left with ‘buffers’ demolished and with a will that is not as yet sufficiently strengthened.”

This is why understanding or what we call Comprehension is necessary.

“Schools of the fourth way demand understanding or Comprehension before anything else. Results of efforts are always proportional to Comprehension.

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.6 of In Search of the Miraculous


The Beginning of Sacred Individuality

“If a person wishes to create individuality of their own then they must first free themselves from general laws. General laws are by no means all obligatory for a person; one can free oneself from many of them by freeing oneself from ‘buffers’ and from mechanical imagination or fantasy (day-dreaming).

All this is connected with the liberation of the essence from personality.

Personality feeds on mechanical imagination or fantasy (day-dreaming) and falsehood. If the falsehood in which a person lives is decreased and mechanical imagination or fantasy is decreased, then personality very soon weakens.

And then the Essence has the opportunity to manifest itself…

-paraphrase from Ch. 8.7 of In Search of the Miraculous



If we want the Essence to become active and the Personality to become passive, then we must being to work on the Comprehension of: Memories or “Rolls” of ‘knowledge’ related to the centers of the human machine, and their particular:
    o   Impressions
    o   Associations
    o   Psychological ‘Dreams’ (Mechanical Imagination or Fantasy).

Buffers are artificial Appliances that keep us ‘Asleep’ Psychologically which:
    o   Keep us from feeling our own Inner Contradictions
    o   and Lessen the Shocks we need in order to Awaken, and change our Level of Being.

And we also need to work on the development of Conscious Willpower so that we can continue to do our esoteric work, even with the tremendous resistance of the Ego to the Conscious Awakening.

The human organism that we have is exploited by the false personality in order to accomplish its Egoic goals. As a result, our organism has many problems, the most obvious of which are the physical diseases that are the result of mistaken psychological states.

Mistaken psychological states are made possible through the wrong working of the centers. Instead of the Essence being able to use a given center, we are accustomed to letting the personality (which is at the service of whatever Ego is controlling it) use the centers. This has caused the centers to become accustomed to functioning in a way that is not only inefficient, but also terribly problematic.

Due to the wrong working of the centers, we spend hours, days, weeks, months or years feeling negative emotions, or worrying about some external event (that may never even happen), or fighting for a certain political affiliation, etc.

Our centers work so improperly that in some places artificial appliances have been formed in order to cope with this wrong working. These artificial appliances interfere with all our good intentions and these are what we call ‘buffers’.

‘Buffers’ are appliances by means of which a person can always be in the right. We must be prepared to ‘find ourselves wrong’ that is: to NOT be in the right, because it is in this way that we can discover our own inner contractions.