The term “personality” refers to the total qualities possessed by a given individual. All good personalities reflect the various qualities of God, the source of all Good, and all evil personalities manifest the limitless evil traits of the Cosmic Satanic Evil, which is responsible for all the miseries of the world. The sole purpose of studying various types of personalities is to compare the results of good and evil personalities and to understand the importance of adopting into one’s own life only the good traits, and of eliminating any evil ones.
The four types of personalities
All personalities come under four broad classifications: transcendental, sattwic, rajasic, or tamasic. Transcendental personalities are those who, like Jesus, Babaji, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Sri Yukteswarji, are one with God. Such personalities exhibit the following traits: omniscience; ever-new bliss; absolute wisdom; non-attachment; even-mindedness; fearlessness; sincerity; and stillness of breath, eyes, and body.
Sattwic, or good-manifesting personalities, are those who cultivate qualities which, from an altruistic or benevolent standpoint, produce a good effect upon oneself or others. Sattwic personalities are marked by the following qualities: spirituality, sincerity, and cleanliness in thought, word, and deed. Meditative activities connected with a religious organization dedicated to the upliftment of souls are considered sattwic activities.
Rajasic personalities are those who pursue acts of usefulness to themselves or others. A man engaged in business pursuits based on strictly moral principles, for his own good or the good of others, can be described as a rajasic personality. In other words, money-making through honest means for oneself or others constitutes rajasic activity. All material and social activities connected with religious organizations, such as collecting funds or building temples, are rajasic activities.
Tamasic or darkness-producing personalities are those who pursue dishonest, immoral, uncontrolled, or non-constructive lives. A person who manifests insincerity, jealousy, a gossiping inclination, greed, extreme anger, or other similarly harmful instincts can be described as having a tamasic personality.
All personalities can be changed
Consciously or semi-consciously, people intuitively experience your predominant personality traits, whether spiritual (sattwic), business-like (rajasic), or selfish (tamasic). It is important, therefore, to know what your personality is so that, for your own happiness and well-being, you can change it for the better and not cause suffering to others by imposing on them a tamasic personality. All personalities, no matter how deeply rooted, can be changed into sattwic personalities by the application of strong will power and continuous self-discipline.
The personality can be compared to a dense forest, beyond which lies the beautiful, expansive land that God has promised you. To reach Him, you must somehow get out of the forest, and not waste time exploring its countless lanes. Unfortunately, most people have no understanding of how to get out of their mental forests. Every path they attempt ends either in a confusion of dense undergrowth, or leads them back to where they first started out. In time, the realization dawns on them that they are lost.
Analyze yourself and find out what your personality is, and see if you need to improve it or perhaps change it entirely. Personalities are formed from the seeds of actions left from previous incarnations. If from the beginning of your childhood you manifested sattwic, rajasic, or tamasic tendencies, then you can be certain that you brought that personality over from a past life.
Why is a baby born crippled? Only reincarnation can explain this fact satisfactorily. People behold it as a “sweet, innocent” baby, but in some past life that personality must have transgressed against God’s law. This transgression deprived him of the consciousness of having good legs. Because the mind controls the body, when that person came back again into a physical body, he was not able to create a perfect pair of legs, and was born crippled.
Pre-natal tendencies are not imposed upon man by God, but are created by man himself through his own free choice. However, through the law of reincarnation, and the continuous application of proper methods of concentration and spiritual self-discipline, harmful pre-natal tendencies can be gradually replaced with sattwic qualities.
A mutual exchange of characteristics
It is possible to develop the traits of specific individuals by constant attentive association with those individuals. Friendship and attentive association between two different personalities results in a mutual exchange of characteristics. If a person wants to become an artist, poet, or businessman, he should choose the best in that class and associate with that personality; by intelligently following that personality’s counsel and example, he will take on his traits. However, if you want to become more spiritual, you should associate with people who have attained a high level of spirituality and learn from their example.
In addition to outward association, it’s also possible to attract the spiritual traits of a certain personality by concentrating deeply upon that personality. For example, by deeply and continuously meditating upon the photograph of a saint, you can become like him. Similarly, by thinking regularly of God and saintly people, you can develop a sattwic personality. You will develop a sattwic personality more quickly if you not only meditate deeply upon God but also, in prayer, ask Him to change your personality.
Always keep in mind, however, that if your whole heart is with someone, you will draw not only the good qualities of that person, but also the defects. That is a very important reason why you should think only of saintly individuals. If you concentrate on thoughts of wicked people, unless you are stronger than they are, you will attract their qualities.
Meditation and the consciousness of immortality
The ego, focused as it is on one body and personality, mistakes that apparently separate individuality for its true self. In reality, your selfhood is infinitely greater. The soul is made in the image of God. By meditating and going within, you are able to experience the bliss of your soul nature. The more you are able to sustain that consciousness outside of meditation, the more your personality will reflect His love, harmony, and goodness. That is your true personality. Your human imperfections are simply a graft on your inner divine nature. Dispel all inharmonious vibrations by meditating regularly and deeply.
In our souls we are immortal, but in our personalities we cannot reclaim the consciousness of that immortality until our human imperfections have all been rubbed away. Working on ourselves is like chipping away the extraneous stone on a statue; gradually the hidden image is revealed in all of its perfection. The lesson of reincarnation is to neutralize the waves of likes and dislikes, of desire and aversion, by expressions of kindness, forgiveness, and compassion to all, and by steadfast contentment in the Self. We must learn to love others not for their human personalities, but because they are manifestations of God, Who dwells equally in all.
To know who we really are—in eternity and not only for a few anguishing earth years—we must withdraw our consciousness from the sensory identifications which have defined our ego-consciousness. Even while living in ego-consciousness, we must think of ourselves as the heirs of Infinity. The better we succeed in identifying ourselves with the soul rather than with this little body and personality, the more real for us will become the words of the master Jesus Christ, who declared, “I and my Father are one.”
Self-realization: a soul potential
People commonly misunderstand “Self-realization” to mean the development of their human personality to its highest potential. But “Self-realization” is a soul-potential, not a human one. You are important not because of your ego and personality but because, as a soul, you are a part of God. “Self-realization” means to realize your oneness with God and to be free of any identification with your body or personality.
By developing the individuality that is an expression of God’s presence within you, your increasingly sattwic personality also becomes powerful and attractive. With the development of your divine nature, through meditation, you gradually cast off even lifelong limitations. You become detached from the body; you no longer feel identified with it. More and more, you experience your true Self, your oneness with the Divine.
Strive always to develop a personality that is derived from living in the continuous consciousness of God. Any other personality will bring disenchantment in its wake because all human expressions have their limitations.
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