Personality: the set of emotional qualities, ways of behaving, etc., that makes a person different from other people. – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/personality
We can distinguish four structure levels on personality: the body as a physical thing, the life-energy level, the emotional-affective level, and the mental level. Physical body needs the life-energy level, while the external world give them all the necessary stuff for survive. Life-energy level manifest as instinct, physical needs, and is a strong motivation of our personality. Thanks to affective level we feel an attraction towards all we live as good for us, and a rejection toward bad things; this level is like an adjustment with the outside world. Affection comprises feelings and emotions: the last is the immediate reaction, related to something that is happen right now, while the former is a more deep reaction that polarize us toward something we feel as good.
Mental level has some sub-levels: the more extern takes care of the data provided by the senses, and records the data, then, another level process the data producing evaluations, judgments, behaviors, etc. The activity of those basic mental levels is the source for the higher level: organic state, judgments, etc, produce a way of valuing the world, a way of thinking, but also the affective level has an important weight. We can see the personality has a hierarchical structure in which the mind is in the higher position, but in the 99,99% of human beings the mind is not the principal, indeed is strongly influenced by the affective and physical levels. The personality shown since now is self-centered, is the personality of an individual separated from the world.
Transpersonal Psychology is concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness. – Lajoie, D. H. & Shapiro, S. I. “Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years”. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol. 24, 1992
There are other higher levels of personality which all of us also have, less or more developed: higher affectivity and higher mind. The last is characterized for not be centered on the individual, but on the knowledge itself, we can say: on the truth. Is impersonal, not interested in personal ideas and opinions but in see things as really are. At individual level the ideas are at the service of the individual, at higher mind level is the contrary, the individual is at the service of the truth, the person accepts the true about things, as they are.
On the higher affective level there are not personal reactions against external data, instead, the good, the goodness, are perceived as universal facts; when we contemplate a beautiful landscape the sense of harmony and grandiosity is universal, the same for all. All of us have such level, more or less developed.
The importance of the higher levels
When the person experience a demand on real love, unconditional fair justice, a happy life, etc, all of this demands are related to the higher levels of personality, but we are not aware of it; being unaware of the origin of demand, we try to satisfy it throughout the lower levels of personality, for example, trying to get unconditional real love throughout basic affective level, but the lower levels are strongly unstable, ever changing, oscillating with the external world, with the senses and with our body state, so we can’t have what we want. In some way, we are re-discovering here the first two noble truths of Buddha:
- Dukkha (incapable of satisfying): Life in this mundane world, with its craving and clinging to impermanent states and things, is dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful.
- Samudaya, the origination of dukkha arises with tanha, “thirst,” craving for and clinging to these impermanent states and things.
When I’m trying to force other persons behave my way, according with my desires, with my ideas of goodness, or any other ideas, I’m trying to do the impossible, because I’m trying to fulfill higher needs with lower instruments, and the law of the low world is change, transformation, impermanence. The problem here is the person usually don’t develop their awareness of their own higher personality, so he don’t have the instrument needed. What we need is a developed personality, capable of connection with our higher levels.
Ans here we find some wrong ways, too often people fall in them. One wrong way is try to connect higher levels simply because we are not satisfied with our life, without a previous work on our personality. Is not enough having high dreams and aspirations, is also needed to work from low levels up to higher ones. We must remember the whole personality has a hierarchical structure, we can’t deny or forget the lower ones looking for the higher, instead, we need full control of all the levels, and “control” don’t mean inhibition, but mean use it at will.
Other wrong way is try to live the higher throughout the lower levels; for example, body-building, the cult of the body, a narcissist activity throughout the person want to experience plenitude. Or the sexual obsess, a very often type of person nowadays, who are thinking and talking about it constantly, trying to experience fullness throughout the life-energy body level. The previous two are living their higher demands throughout vegetative functions of the body. And also there are such persons who want to live romantic lives, or passionate romances, going between heartbreakings. And of course, there are the mental oriented persons, trying to realize themselves throughout their own ideas about truth, not looking for the truth, but closed on their personal ideas of truth; some of people in this group have so closed mind that are able to attack, even kill, other persons not agree with them.
Hope all this stuff show clearly the importance of develop a integrated, solid personality, with all the levels well developed. The body, the energy, the affective level integrated with a stable mental level, stabilized thanks to the higher levels, because higher levels are intrinsically stable, not subject to oscillations. The developed personality also has a personal life, managing personal circumstances, but at the same time is independent of them, because the higher levels give him a strength, a solidity, and a permanent inner peace. When we live all the levels in such equilibrated way, we become more aware of ourselves, because our self awareness develops throughout the operation of such levels, lower and higher. Then, we really can talk about self-realization, when the person discover their identity working from higher up to lower planes of personality, which is an instrument of expression.