Every man seem to be divided in two distinguished parts: we can say that there is a part that is almost totally
real and another totally immaginary. In the ordinary men these two parts are totally mixed between them, so it’s not easy to distinguish them though each has a particular mean and function.
In more esoteric systems these two parts are called essence and personality.
The essence is what we really are, what is innate in every man. This “natural” part of every man ordinary can’t be lost, can’t be changed and can’t deteriorate as fast as the personality- she is the core of the physical and psychical structure of every human being. Every innate characteristic is a segment of the essence, ie.innate talents.
The personality is the result of all we have learned consciously or unconsciously during our life. She depends of the situations so can be modified, deteriorate, lost. In the majority of the cases she is the result of an unconscious developement because, expecially in the childhood, she is developed by imitation- a very important factor in her construction.
So, the personality is wath is manifested in the outher world, and the essence is wath is coveret in the intimacy of every person. When we look at a man, we can see the personality, not the essence. That’s because the
personality should be a tool to manifest the essence in the world. But is not the case of the ordinary men.
So, ordinary, the personality should be a tool for the essence, and in that case should be of very big utility for the developement of a person. But, the reallity is that the personality dominates and suffocate the essence, and the results are catastrophic. This is wath most persons call “Ego”, and consider that part of the whole being “negative”. But, we have to understand that the personality is important for the men, he could not live only of essence- he would be unable to do everything. In a normal situation, personality and essence should grow together, at the same plane, but the problem is that the personality grows disproportionately and the essence
remains in the second plan, ignored.
There are two different cases of wrong developement: we can meet persons who have a prevalence of essence, and such examples can be found in the rural communities, where the personality is less important; they can be good and intelligent persons, but they have not possibility for developement how as one who has a more accentuate personality. In the opposite case, an intellectual, for example, can possess a strong crystallized personality, but also could have an atrophied, incomplete develop of essence.
When, during a childhood, is experienced a rapid developement of the personality, the essence becomes atrophied, and her evolution remais blocked in the early childhood. In the modern society there are more causes for an abnormal developement of the personality and an inhibition of the essence, and these are all related with the concept of identification: the struggle for competition, for appearence, self-immage….
So, as said above, the personality is an external covering of our essence: in some maneer, the personality protect the essence like a shield protects a knight; but, in our actual situation, the same shield has grown too hard, and took the place of the knight. The essence becomes suffocated, under notutrished, and it is in danger of dying.
Many persons with a developed magnetic center (deep interest for a higher knowing), has an essence- their essence is surely not dead. Their essence searchs a possibility for express herself. Under a properly system, the essence can emerge step by step and develop. At the same time, a person who walks on this path of developement, needs that shield to protect the essence and let her grow in peace and without external disturbances. This shield is not mechanical but is a “true personality”. What it means? It is a personality who
applies all her acquired knowledge to protect and feed the essence, and to grow in partnership with her.
This work might be summed up by something like “becoming who we really are in potential”. We begin
(working) as almost nothing but false personality. The various tools of the work are designed to create in us a true personality. This true personality not only allows essence to grow, it feeds essence deliberately, permitting a right growth. The result of the right growth of essence is our individuality.
We can see different relationships of essence and personality, different ratios, in different people. In an “educated” Westerner, for example, personality prevails over essence. An isolated rainforest tribe member typically has a much more developed essence but little development of personality. Our essence relates
directly to another’s essence if personality is not threatened, and we find each other charming. The energy of essence is literally finer than that of personality, and it is a delight to experience it. Children are another example of essence predominating over personality. We may have all witnessed the growth of children in which personality begins to predominate, say from the age of 7 and on, and we cannot help but feel that something is being lost. Strictly speaking, it is not being lost, at least not yet, but rather becoming covered by a protective coating, which is personality.
This over-layering of personality on essence is often likened to clothing protecting our body, and we meet in many teachings with apparently strange ideas about the necessity of “removing our clothes” and to “become like little children”. This, for us, is a necessary first stage of growth, but must be done carefully. Yes, it is necessary to remove these old clothes, this personality, this “old Adam”, but it is also necessary to then
acquire a new protection for our essence—protection from the often harsh and potentially damaging influences of life in the human world. This new covering, or filter, is our true personality.
That we are able to begin the work of the fourth way at all is due to a part of our personality—it is our “magnetic center”. Although acquired in personality, it seems to be the result of a deeper “call” in us, some certainty or intimation within us of a higher reality that is accessible but for some reason not normally accessed. In any case, we engage in seeking, with the obvious intent of eventually finding. But there are many variables, among which I might mention the relative strength of the urge to find, the willingness to overcome obstacles including self-deception and societal discouragement, and the determination to hold onto something once gained and to build from there.
Magnetic center grows and, most importantly, magnetic center improves by a process of discrimination.
That is, by discriminating in the first place between A and B influences—and pursuing, “collecting”, B influences—magnetic center increases its relative mass and importance in one’s life. But this is not enough. It is necessary to improve on our ability to discriminate the relative quality of the different influences B—if we do not, we become like one of those people that are only too common these days, full of ideas about every latest new-age fad but hardly distinguishing between their relative value, and adopting the next one to come along with the same vehemence and certainty each one was previously adopted. This road leads nowhere.
It is necessary to “separate the coarse from the fine”, to gain in discrimination as a result of experience, and to use that discrimination to move in the direction indicated by it. There is no doubt that this takes a lot of hard self-questioning (what have I really gained?, what do I really know?, and so on) and it also requires a
certain self-respect for one’s own higher understandings at times when we don’t have that same higher level of understanding.
The Sufi’s have a saying about watching what people do, not what they say, and this is an example of the kind of discrimination that must be learned. Many people can talk a good game, but when their corns are stepped-on, you see what they are worth, as Gurdjieff used to put it.
So magnetic center becomes a sort of bridge between false personality and true personality. It becomes a bridge, that is, when the other “shore” is found, that shore being school work. Work based on real knowledge, knowledge that is required for the development of true personality.
Such knowledge is chiefly psychological in nature, but it is aided by the study of cosmological ideas.
Psychological and cosmological ideas must become more similar as one moves toward unity and away from multiplicity, and the separate but related study of each is a means of providing material to demonstrate and ultimately verify this. Psychological work requires working directly with others. Cosmological knowledge comes from others, although not necessarily by personal contact.
The knowledge we speak of is principles of classification and action. Specific facts must be incorporated by
the individual. Such facts may be of various types, whether psychological or cosmological, religious or scientific. System ideas are the tools by which we are able to relate apparently unrelated and even contradictory ideas. This body of working knowledge, by which we increasingly relate to the work and then the world, is true personality. Like all personality, it is learned and comes from outside of us but, unlike false personality, it is deliberately constructed by us in light of specific goals toward our aim.
True personality has a dual nature in that on the one hand it works to build up new principles and actions
based on personal verifications of revealed teaching and, on the other hand, it works to break down and remove wrong ideas and habits acquired over the decades by false personality.
The gradual reduction of false personality and the establishment of true personality in its place allows for
the growth of essence. Essence, which had been severely restricted due to the graceless growth of false personality like a crust around it, now begins to receive essential nourishment once again in the form of direct impressions of diverse and finer energies.
And from this point on arises the possibility of a true individuality. This individuality grows out of essence,
and is expressed through it. Gurdjieff, for example, did not ceases to be a Martial type, or to have a moving center of gravity, but he used these as tools to pursue his aims—as opposed to being a helpless prisoner of them, which we are until we can fully see our mechanicalities and successfully resist them and, ultimately, transcend them.
It can be very painful see the extent to which we are controlled by our essence and false personality. This is the main reason the fourth way will never be popular. It may be more accurate to say that work on the fourth way will never be popular. Some imaginary ideas calling themselves the fourth way may well one day become popular, but that would have as much to do with the work of the fourth way as false personality has to do with who we really are. There is a great deal about ourselves that we will never see without working with others
in an organization based on the fourth way, one directed by consciousness (“C influence”). The difficulty of such group work— fourth way organization—is directly related to our reluctance to see the truth about ourself.
That’s a struggle that we do against ourselves