Unit VIII. Identification and Soul Loss

  1. Separation and the False Self, Duality
  2. Identification and Soul Loss
  3. Parental and Familial Contributions
  4. Alienation from the Higher Self
  5. Ratna Realm
  6. Restlessness and Confusion
  7. Victimization
  8. Personality Aspects
  9. Individuation
  10. Roles
  11. Who are You?
  12. Mindfulness Training  

Materials Needed: Drawing materials (paper, colored pens), journal.

Books and Tapes Needed (in this order):

Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation *
The Upanishads*

Bradshaw on: The Family

Emergence of the Divine Child
or Windows to the soul*
The Gospel According to Thomas

A Path with Heart*

Yoga and Psychotherapy*

For Your Own Good
Your favorite fairy tale

The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi

Journeys with a Brother

Practices and Exercises:

Second chakra
Family dinner table
Song of the pearl
Fairy tales
Who am I?
Spiritual practice

* You may already have these books

"We are all culturally hypnotized from birth." (Harman, 1997, p. 14)

"Who do you think you are?" screams the ten-year old kid with the dirty face as he squares off with his fists up in the air. "I'm your big brother, that's who," answers the other, smiling and deftly avoiding his younger sibling's jabs. This scenario could be repeated all over the country in school yards and in board rooms. The question is a good one, and the fact that it arouses anger indicates that it probes a deep-seated fear we all have - that we don't really know.

Who am I anyway? Am I the mother who sends her children off every morning to catch the bus and then sighs with momentary relief as she sits down to her second cup of coffee? Or am I the daughter who calls her Mom every Sunday and worries about her living alone so far away? Maybe I'm the older sister who still feels responsible for her brothers and sisters? Or am I the teacher who meets her classes five mornings a week and copes with other people's children? Perhaps I am that sophisticated big-city lawyer off to try the case of the year? Or am I the woman who wakes in the night and can't go back to sleep because my marriage isn't working? Well I may be many of these, and yet the roles do not define who I really am. There is a dimension not covered by all of the above. There is a part of me that I shelter deep inside and protect from all comers. I rarely share that part of me and, in fact, I may have lost touch with it altogether. Separation is the name of the game.

Separation and the False Self, Duality

Every religious tradition has its myths that try to explain the feelings of loss and alienation we all experience from time to time. We use varying degrees of repression and defense mechanism to keep the abyss at bay with moderate degrees of success. Perhaps one of the forces behind neuroticism is just this fear and its threat of becoming conscious. Chogyam Trungpa used to say that everyone is neurotic. And you could make a point that anyone who is not, is not in touch with the reality of our everyday lives.

The story of the Garden of Eden explains one view of how the separation occurred. And the Judeo-Christian religions are full of advice about how to go back to God. The late Dean Pike, of the Episcopal church, once defined sin as anything that separates us from God. The Samkya philosophy of Yoga indicates that the Ultimate Reality split Itself into Consciousness and Matter, and that that was the beginning of creation. The Buddhists use the Skandhas as a way of explaining how the ego separates itself from the void (cf Unit 4). In many cases, the Godhead Itself is divided into several parts. For instance, the trinity in Christianity where we have God, the son of God and the Holy Ghost. The Trinity in Hinduism consists of Brahma, the creator; Siva, the remover of obstacles; and Vishnu, the preserver. Ancient Greek, Roman and Norse mythology divided the Godhead into a great many deities who had different roles to play. Aten or Aton, in Egypt, is believed by many to be the first single creator god. His dates are 2000 B.C. to 1362 B.C. YHWH (Yahweh or Jehovah) in the Jewish tradition dates back to around 1200 B.C.

In all cases, however, there is a separation between the so-called higher levels of reality, the God realm, and the human level. We feel our distance from God and long for reconciliation. Or, if we do not believe in a deity, we project our alienation and yearning for connection onto material things or other people. So we talk about "other worlds," other states of being. And there are times when we wish to escape from the boundaries of our humanity. The Garden of Eden story underlines the pathos of our loss of connection. The knowledge gained there is the knowledge of our separateness. It is unalleviated by any redeeming grace of wholeness that might offer comfort. The Good is connection, the Evil is separation. We know we are separate, but we do not know that we are also, simultaneously, connected; or that both are possible at the same time.


The goddess of the second chakra is Rakini. You will notice that she has two heads. This represents the creation of two worlds. This can be thought of as the within and the without, the subject-object split, being cut off from our Higher Selves, separation from God, split between the soul and the mindbody, split energy, abandonment, existential grief and longing, loneliness and aloneness. It is always some kind of division. Not wholeness.

Forgetting and Imagery

We have already seen how the form-making capacity develops during the preschool period of development. And we will soon see how the ego learns to forget in order to protect itself and the self-image. But there is a deeper underlying drama going on. When children are small and unable to defend themselves, abuse and/or neglect, in fact, any sort of unmanageable pain may be handled by creating a split in the personality. Multiple personality disorder is frequently the result of severe abuse during childhood. In this particular defense system, one or more aspects of the personality carry the knowledge of the pain and are not allowed into consciousness at the same time as the ego and other aspects. Thus the pain is not experienced most of the time. However, those aspects may erupt unexpectedly, so the individual's life functioning is compromised.

Most of us do not develop such an extreme form of defense. However, this does not mean that we are free of trauma. In all of us are parts of soul that are not allowed to function because, for whatever reason, they were repressed during early psychological development. Some people are unable to cry because they were severely punished for crying when they were small. Others cannot express anger or fear. In fact, socialization practices in our society favor the repression of anger in women and the repression of grief and sadness in men. I once attended a workshop conducted by The Institute for Psychointegrity in which men and women were enabled to get in touch with these repressed parts of themselves and express their feelings openly in front of the group. This process tends to have a very liberating effect on the participants. Bioenergetics and other psycho-dynamic processes as well as massage therapy may have similar effects. This is the story of soul loss. We lose parts of ourselves as a result of painful experiences in early childhood. The kunda flower in the second chakra, the two circles of petals inside the chakra, represent this inner split.

Exercise: Second Chakra

Trace or copy the diagram of the second chakra from your Johari (1987) book. Leave out the deities in order to simplify the other symbols. You may want to trace them onto a separate piece of paper. Color the chakra diagram and think about the symbolism of each facet as you go. In many other such diagrams, the goddess Rakini has blue skin. This means she is an incarnation of the Divine. Consider what that might mean. How can a two-headed goddess be an incarnation of the Divine if the Divine is only One?

The kunda flower does not appear in Johari's rendition. However, it does appear in The Serpent Power by John Woodroffe (1973). In that diagram, there are two smaller circles inside the outside one attached together near the top of the chakra. These two form the crescent moon in which you find the makara. There is a row of petals between the outside circle and the first of the two inside circles. And there is another set of petals inside the inner circle. See Figure II-7 for an approximation. You may want to try to draw your own composite of the two diagrams. If you do, the petals inside the chakra are white.

When you have finished with your chakra drawing, meditate on it for a few minutes. Can you see how the separation is contained by the whole? This gives us hope, I think, for the reconciliation of opposites in ourselves. You might also want to think about why the makara might be located inside the crescent moon.

Chopra's Model of the Person

Figure 2-2

Consider Chopra's model of the person (Figure II-2). Notice that he puts the soul at the highest level of unmanifest potentiality. It is part of the causal body and, as such, is the subject of experience: the one who has the experience. It is often said that the soul is that part of ourselves that is reincarnated which means that it is immortal. It also exists at higher levels than the mind or ego. This would suggest that ultimately it is unaffected by what the mind and ego do. If this is so, then the soul is inherently whole. And that would mean that our soul or parts of soul we may feel are missing are not truly lost but are merely forgotten or temporarily unavailable to our conscious mind. This is repression. Let us look, in some depth, into how that occurs

Exercise: Separation

Read the "Brihadaranyaka," "Aitareya" and "Tejabindu" Upanishads in The Upanishads by Eknath Easwaren (1987). Make some notes in your journal about how these ancient scriptures can contribute to the healing of our dualities and separations.

You may want to do a twilight imaging (Appendix A) to create a dialogue between your ego self and your Higher Self. You could ask, for instance, how to heal your own alienations.

Identification and Soul Loss

We have said that soul loss is the result of the splitting off and repression of some aspects of self that are not acceptable to others. This occurs in the process of personality, ego and role development during the preschool period of development, roughly ages two to five. We have seen that the ego emerges around the age of two and it immediately begins to test out its powers. This produces what is known as the "terrible twos" during which time children tend to display a great deal of negativity. This is largely to see what happens if they exert their wills. This process is called reality-testing and it is extremely important to later mental health. One reason for this is that it develops the feedback mechanisms in the brain. The original sensory-motor associations branch out to become consciously controlled experimentation. We learn how to check out our impact on various environments and other people's behavior toward us to see what works and what does not. The second reason is that the kind of feedback children receive when they test reality is directly associated with their self-image. So, if they are allowed to exert their wills, safely of course and within reason, they begin to develop a sense of autonomy and competency. In fact, Erikson (1968) calls this period the crisis of autonomy vs doubt and shame. To see how the process relates to form-making, let us examine the development of feminine self-image.

Feminine Self-image

Like self-concept, self-image is a mental construction that one develops about what kind of person one is and about how valuable that person is. We spend a great deal of energy defending this image once it is developed. Notice the emergence of the valuing process in the early stages of this period. The self is all that one calls "I": body, ideas, personality, personal space around oneself, attitudes, values, skills, abilities, etc. It is, however, not only all these "things," bubut the way these things are put together, how all these parts interact, that makes a self. This false self (personality) is not to be confused with the Higher Self which is a wholistic entity that is aware of all of the above and of its connections with the cosmos. The Higher Self is sometimes called the Observer Self because it is capable of a detached observation of the little self in action.

Look at Table 2-1. Development of Self-identity

The first two columns trace development of identity throughout the life span. The third column outlines some of the dangers for women if the stages are not negotiated properly. At age two, you see the self-concept and reality-testing we were just discussing. The next step involves a valuing process. In a society that does not focus on evaluation, this stage may not occur. However, in America, we are strongly oriented toward valuing and comparisons. So we see that children begin to show an interest in themselves. It is as if children with a newly minted ego say to themselves, "OK, so I'm a separate person. What kind of person am I?" And, as we have seen, the language learning provides adjectives at this point to label the child's perceptions of others, things in the environment and him/herself. So I might learn that I am a good girl when I mind my parents, but a bad girl when I talk back to them. I may find out that I am pretty from Uncle Joe and clumsy from Grandmother Jones. The traits that are consistently applauded are ones that I will enlarge and develop multidimensionally. Those that are not or are punished, I will relegate to the back regions of my mind, and they will remain there in a state of perpetual childhood because they are no longer available for reality-testing.

This is a form-making process similar to imagery except that what is being constructed is what could be called percepts in the mind. Percepts are loose associations of ideas based on sensory perceptions that are linked together, but they are still unstable at this early age. So, from an adult point of view, there would be a great deal of confusion. Taking the example above, I have a jumble of values about myself that are not coherent or organized, nor are they consistent. Some are good and some are not. But, over time, they will coalesce and those that have been most consistently reinforced, whether good or bad, will prevail and crystallize into a persisting self-concept. This concept will have remnants of the whole scale of values and will not necessarily be rational. In fact, it most likely will not be. By the time this happens, the ego is committed to defending it regardless of its evaluation quotient. The next major step is sex-role identification. This begins with gender identity. Am I am male or a female? This is usually settled fairly easily by comparison of genitals within the family. Sometimes it occurs in the sandbox or preschool bathrooms. The more complex process has to do with how the behaviors of males and females differ. And the society is by no means helpful in this regard. There is a time lag of some ten years between the socialization of males into their sex role and that of females. Little boys find out by age four that they are expected to behave like men. This works best when they have male models to teach them, obviously. A great deal of the role confusion we see nowadays is due to inadequate male parenting either because the father is not part of the family or because he is too much absent. And this applies to both male and female sex-role identities. Fathers shape their daughters' sex-role identification as well as that of their sons.

Age five is a crucial year for personality development. Freud said that this is the time that the superego matures. We can call that the "critic" because what it does is harrass us when we do not do what we "should." It is formed by the internalization of parental prohibitions, warnings, favorite sayings, criticisms and judgments of the child. Once they have been taken in this way, they become a part of the personality and continue the parental voices inside one's head. We all have this personality aspect and, for most of us, it tends to be rather punitive. The ego matures also at about age five and becomes capable of repression. We will return to this later.

The increasing ability to think without speech enables verbal mediation (cf Unit 5) and, hence, true concept formation. So what were before loosely constructed percepts now seem to harden into more permanent concepts and ideas. From this point on, the basic forms of personality are in place and are consequently enlarged, deepened and integrated into more complex wholes.

Parental and Familial Contributions

How did your family impact your life? When you think back to childhood, what do you remember? What comes to mind first in response to the word "family?" Is it a scene of gentle, loving nurturance or one of violence and discord? Probably it is somewhere in between. All families have their moments. But you will have a general feeling tone of love and acceptance, or of judgment and criticism. Perhaps it is neglect, benign or otherwise. Every aspect of family life has an impact on the developing child. Because human beings have such a prolonged period of dependency, there is plenty of time for the family to shape the growing child. The family, and parents in particular, are responsible for socializing children, so they can take on appropriate roles and behaviors as members of the society when they grow up. This requires discipline, training, nurturance, and constant supervision especially of younger children.

So it is important for our understanding of identification and soul loss to examine some of the activities that go on in families and that impact children's personality and ego development.


One of Maslow's needs that is very basic is the need to belong. We could call that basic dependency. This is not meant in an unhealthy sense as it might be if applied to adults, but it is normal in children. They need protection and guidance and, if it is not provided (as in extremely permissive parenting), children feel insecure. They need boundaries in order to define themselves and to learn considerate social behavior.

Our issues around membership in groups was birthed in the family. Each person in the family has a family role and position in the hierarchy. And, because each person is unique and each is related differently to each other member of the family, one cannnot say that two siblings have the same family. Within the same family two children may have entirely different issues around membership. The eldest may feel responsible for younger siblings and as if s/he had little or no childhood. A younger child may feel threatened by the perceived power of the eldest or become spoiled by the attentions of older brothers and sisters. A quiet and less assertive child may feel like s/he does not really belong to the family or as if s/he were adopted. This is a fairly common fantasy of children who feel like they do not fit in. One child may play the role of scapegoat and receive most of the negative attention in the family or take the blame for others' transgressions. An only child may have trouble in school because s/he has not learned how to "give and take" with other children.

Exercise: Family Dinner Table

Get a piece of drawing paper and draw a picture of your family dinner table. Be sure to do this one in color. You may even use symbols to represent your family members if you wish. Try to capture the essence of the interactions that were characteristic of your family as you were growing up. If you did not eat together around the table, depict the usual scene, for example in front of the television. If you did not eat together at all or have regular family gatherings, try to represent that separateness and its impact on your life. Include in your family all of the relatives that had a major impact on your life. However, keep it to manageable size.

When you are finished, if you can find several friends to assist you, create a living statue of your family. Assign each person a role in your family and put them in the right position to convey the feeling tone of that person's relationship to the rest of the family. You may want to share your drawing to help them get into character. You remain outside of this tableau. Give someone else your role in the family also. If you can, take a picture of the formation for future reference.

Now, relieving each family member in turn, put yourself into the family tableau. Hold the position until you are able to feel into the emotions and feelings of that person that are generated by the position. (This is called a feedforward effect. Any given posture creates a feeling tone in the body that reflects the emotions that are usually behind the posture.) Make some quick notes to help you remember what you experienced after each positioning. Then assume another of the roles. When you are finished, thank your friends for their assistance and ask each of them to share what they felt in the position in which you placed them. You may want to record what they say to compare with your own feelings in that pose. When they have gone, process what you have learned about your relationship to your family. You may want to write a reflective paper, or you may want to draw a new picture or even sculpt the tableau in clay.


The need to belong generates a need for approval. It is attachment to the parents and siblings along with this need for approval that enables children to submit to necessary discipline. Perhaps "discipline" is a loaded word, so let me qualify how it is being used. Discipline, here, means learning self-regulation, how to govern myself, take care of myself, and submit to the social rules and mores of the society in which I am growing up. Parents are the society's representatives in this regard.

There are at least three modes of disciplining children. One is through punishment for wrong-doing. This is the least effective because it does not necessarily stop unwanted behaviors. However, it does condition a fear response to the punisher. A second method is withdrawing love when children misbehave. This has serious and lasting consequences because it attacks the child's basic security and creates a negative self-image. It teaches children that love is conditional upon what s/he does rather than being offered freely to his/her beingness. Much of our stress is based in the need for approval that has been transferred from parents to other authority figures in our culture. It gives undeserved power to those in positions of authority such as bosses, teachers, priests and political figures. And it enslaves a great many of the rest of us. A third mode is to enlist the child's need to learn and grow, both of which are powerful motivating factors. Children also want to cooperate and to be involved in what is going on, so every activity in the home is an arena for developing new skills.

Psychological research has shown us that the drive to learn is self-motivating, and it should not be undermined by giving superficial or indiscriminate rewards to children. This includes excessive praise, though children's efforts should be acknowledged. There is a fine line between manipulation and acknowledgment. The former is not lost on children who will then learn how to do manipulate others themselves. My father used to say, "Do as I say, not as I do." But we do what he did. Modeling of desired behavior is perhaps the most effective way to teach children. They want to be like their parents whom they usually admire without reservations.

Sibling Rivalry

It is fascinating to learn that not all children experience competition within the family. That is apparently a set of behaviors or attitudes that is taught to children by their parents especially in the United States. Spencer Kagan and Millard Madsen (1971, 1972) invented a game for children that could only be won if both children cooperated. Competition would lead to a stalemate. He then used this game to do a study that showed that Hispanic children won easily while typical American children inevitably reached a stalemate because they were so conditioned to compete. Kagan reasoned that the lifestyle of the Hispanics required them to cooperate in order to survive, so they were taught that from early infancy. On the other hand, competition is the life blood of most Americans. That competition is unhealthy, does not do what it is touted to do and that it creates most of the stress we all experience is eloquently documented by Alfie Kohn (1986).

Competition is unhealthy for young children because it instills a sense of failure too early while the child is still learning how to function. It can cut off the desire to learn if a child consistently fails and is encouraged to compare him/herself with others. In a competitive situation, only one person can win. All others are losers. Who has not experienced the neighborhood bully or the games that favor older and more experienced children?

We mentioned Erikson's crisis of autonomy vs shame and doubt. The loser learns shame and to doubt his/her ability to succeed. The next crisis at about ages 4-7 is called initiative vs guilt. This is also fed by competition in a negative way. If children keep trying to make things work or to succeed and they fail, then the logical outcome is a sense of lack of initiative. The guilt is instilled by others blaming children when their attempt to do something fails or breaks something or hurts someone. This puts focus on the outcome rather than the intention. And the resulting impact has a negative effect on self-esteem and self-image. The child learns that s/he is incompetent and eventually will cease trying.

Exercise: Socialization

Read Bradshaw on The Family: A Revolutionary Way of Self-Discovery by John Bradshaw. He addresses most of the issues created by dysfunctional families and uncovers some ways in which we lose our selves in growing up. Keep notes in your journal about how much of what Bradshaw says applies to you. Do you think that one of the reasons families are disintegrating might be because they have degenerated into dysfunctionality? How would you correct the problem if you were given unlimited power to do so? What would you change in your own upbringing?

When you have finished with this book, read chapters 8 and 9 in Emergence of the Divine Child or Windows to the soul by Rick Phillips and chapter 19 in A Path with Heart. If you have completed Book I, you will already have these books. Does Kornfield's chapter on Karma help you to understand what happened in your life?

After you have read and digested this material, write a paper on how your parents disciplined you and how you feel about it now. Then do the "Forgiveness Meditation" in A Path with Heart, pages 284-6.

Another book you might want to have a look at sometime if the topic interests you is Co-Dependence: Misunderstood-Mistreated by Anne Wilson Schaef. She deals with a more limited form of dysfunctionality. And you may want to examine Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families by Charles L. Whitfield.

Alienation from the Higher Self

We have spoken of the separation of our selves and souls from the Divine One and from the family. Now let us consider our separation from our Higher Selves. How is this different? The Higher Self is pure consciousness as represented by Purusa in the Samkya Yoga diagram in Book I (Figure 3). In this diagram, you can see the relationships between the false self (ego), the soul, and Consciousness or the Self (another name for Higher Self). The latter is a higher level of consciousness since it is part of the original split between consciousness and matter. So we can think of it as Divine Consciousness. You can see from the diagram that what intervenes between the Higher Self and your ego consciousness is mostly mind. So, it follows, that if we can quiet the mind, we can access the Higher Self. And that is, indeed, what happens in meditation if we stick with it long enough. Notice that the soul is considered to be a reflection of Pure Consciousness from the higher mind. So it is not as pure as the Higher Self. In fact, it is widely conceived of as the feeling aspect of our Higher Self.

When you consider the relationships between the various forms of mind, ego and the soul, you may be able to see how mental activity might be able to obscure aspects of soul (as in soul loss). If, for instance, our focus of attention is in the ego's arena, aspects of soul will not be able to come through. It is as if our egos draw a line or create a wall between the soul and our lower levels of consciousness that are located in ego. Just for the sake of comparison, Freud would probably say that everything in the diagram above the mental level is unconscious. And in a sense that is true if we regard only ego's limited consciousness as the standard. However, what Yoga and the eastern traditions are teaching us is that higher levels of Consciousness can be accessed, if ego and the discursive mind are silenced, so we can explore those other domains.

Exercise: Song of the Pearl

Read "The Song of the Pearl" in The Gospel According to Thomas (Iyer, 1983, p. 119) if you can find a copy of this book which is out of print. It is part of the Acts of Thomas which you might be able to find in some anthologies of Gnostic Gospels. Consider this piece as a model for parenting and as a model of your relationship to the Divine One. What does it suggest about our relationship to the Divine One? Do you see any links to eastern philosophy? What does it suggest to you about parenting yourself?

Do have any ideas about why this book was not included in the Holy Bible? I have heard that Thomas went to India and established a church. He died and was buried there. Can you make some connections between that and his tendency to doubt? Is there a throwback here to Erikson's stage of autonomy vs shame and doubt?

If you are willing, try your own hand at writing a poem or a haiku about the pearl of great price as it manifests in your life. A haiku is a three line poem that has the following configuration:

Line one: five syllables
Line two: seven syllables
Line three: five syllables

There should also be inclusion of some image from nature. For example:
Rage of unseen child
And the fiery volcano
Erupt at midday


Who can kill the soul
If like a perfect white swan
It moves swimmingly?

Ratna Realm

If we can, let us turn now to the Buddhist explanation of separation and deprivation. In the Buddhist Wheel of Life, there are six realms. We will meet all of them later in this unit but will examine the Ratna realm in more depth here because it is the one most germane to family life. You will remember that each realm encompasses a wide dimension of psychological experience from the most neurotic to the beatific. On the painful end of this dimension in the Ratna realm, we find hungry ghosts. These are creatures with extended bellies, and tiny mouths. They are the epitome of hunger and deprivation, just the experience of a deprived child who is not receiving the nurturance, physical or emotional, that s/he needs. These are the children of neglect and violence, abuse and abandonment. There is some of that in all of us regardless of how much tender loving care we received as children. And that is possible because mothers cannot be all things to their children though they may try, and babies must be left alone on occasion, young children find themselves alone and awake before the rest of the family arises, etc. These lonely times nag at our memories with a sense of unrequited love and isolation. This is part of the hungry ghost in each of us. Denial of some of our desires as children is perhaps another aspect.

At the other end of the dimension, is Ratna, the deity of abundance and nurturance. Ratna is the Buddha who represents the sensations. He is "The head of a group of deities who carry jewels and are family symbols." (Jordan, 1993, p. 219) He is also a tutelary deity as are parents in the eyes of their children.

The connection with raising children is pretty obvious. Parents can be present or absent, loving or neglecting. And most are inconsistent. The impact can be seen in their adult children. When we are nourished as children, we grow up into happy, healthy adults. When we are not, neurosis fills the gaps. We have only to consult our addictions for information about what was lacking or what we truly hunger for.

Restlessness and Confusion

"Anxiety is that mental-emotional state experienced when there is apprehension about either losing something that one craves or being unable to get it." (Rama, et al., 1976. p. 153) Anxiety is also produced by the ego when its defenses are threatened. So we might expect that anything in life that threatens to expose our neediness and hunger will generate anxiety or fear. The difference between anxiety and fear is that fear is associated with an objective threat and anxiety is free-floating since the object of fear is repressed.

One of the ways we deal with childhood deprivation is to repress the memory of it. However, it does not disappear, but continues to press for satisfaction. The ego often displaces this need onto material objects, food, drugs or some such external thing that can momentarily distract us from the real issue which is that we feel un- loved. Even in a current situation where we may, in fact, be loved, the child inside still suffers because it is not in touch with external reality. There is only its need and its imprisonment. So we yearn and create addictions.

Another defensive ploy the ego may take is to create confusion which is probably a throwback to the confusion undoubtedly experienced by young children whose mental development does not allow for clear perceptions and understanding of all the different levels of human activity. If, because of some trauma, a child's psychological development was arrested and a section of awareness was shut down because it was too painful to bear, confusion may mask the area of difficulty, so the ego does not have to confront it. This is the reason why confusion used as an ego defense mechanism suggests that the time of the original trauma is located in early childhood. If one is engaged in psychotherapy, it may be helpful to know where to look for the source of the problem. Some clues can be found in knowledge of developmental psychology.

Exercise: Anxiety

Read pages 152-7 in Yoga and Psychotherapy, chapter 7 and pages 88-101 in A Path with Heart and chapter 7 in Emergence of the Divine Child or Windows to the soul.. Compare the therapeutic processes in these sources. What do you think would be the best way to access hidden childhood memories? Or do you think they are best left alone? Consider that the energy it takes to hold material in repression could be used for other more interesting life events.

Do the meditations on pages 100-1 in A Path with Heart. These will be especially helpful if you find that repressed memories are surfacing during your practice. And this is very likely to happen because, when you meditate, you are putting the ego to sleep so its functions are relaxed, and material that has been repressed during normal waking life is now free to arise. Incidently this is true in dreaming as well, but there is still some remnant of disguise in the dream images which Freud says protects one's sleep.


Nowadays we are hearing a great deal about child abuse, primarily because people are more educated, the issue is out in the open and children are being taught to report it. Teachers are required by law to report suspicious cases which are then investigated by human services organizations. Where the child's life and health are endangered, s/he may be put into a foster home until violence in the domestic situation is alleviated.

There are at least two kinds of child abuse: physical attacks and/or violence resulting in injury and sexual abuse. Both of these are extremely traumatic for the child and can lead to serious psychological consequences including multiple personality disorder, neurosis, brain damage, eating disorders, etc.

We could speculate that the high incidence of child abuse in our society is a symptom of a deeper social sickness that desperately needs remediation. The toll taken by neurosis, which is a somewhat less debilitating form of defense than the consequences mentioned above, is probably unknown. But it has the capacity to destroy families and to pass on the abuse to the next generation before the parents are actually aware that they are ill. Therefore, it is incumbent upon those of us who are relatively healthy to try to change the precursors. We know what causes these problems, but we do not yet know how to repair or to forestall the damages. One thing we can all do is to assess our own mental health. If we cannot function optimally in our own lives, how can we possibly expect to raise healthy, happy children?

Exercise: Victimization

Read For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence by Alice Miller. Be prepared for unpleasantness and shock. This book is not easy reading, but it does get to the bottom of the problem. Miller is a psychotherapist, so she speaks from extensive experience in treating adults who were abused as children. You may be appalled at how much of yourself you see in these pages.

When you are finished, persist a little bit longer in order to process what you have learned. Write a paper on the child abuses you know about, including your own if you are aware of any. Writing papers is one way to objectify your experience. When the facts are set down in front of you where you can see them, it is easier to confront them and find ways of integrating and/or mitigating them.

Personality Aspects

"I want to go too," screamed Lisa, stamping her foot.

"Well, I'm sorry, but you can't always have your own way," replied her mother trying to contain her rising frustration.

"Hurry up, Martha, we're going to be late for the boss's dinner party," bellowed her father from the garage as he pushed the button to open the garage door.

"Don't yell at me, James," screeched her mother losing control at the double-barreled attack. "I'm doing the best I can."

This scenario could be translated into an interior battle. Consider that you are debating whether to go to a fraternity party or to stay home and work on your term paper. Or, alternatively, you have been invited to spend the weekend at a Swiss chalet skiing this weekend, but your boss has asked you to have the report ready by 8 AM Monday morning. You might have the following internal dialogue:

"I want to go too.

Well, I'm sorry you can't have your own way.

Hurry up we're going to be late for the party.

Don't yell at me."

We have four characters in both of these vignettes. There's a child who wants to have its own way, a rational adult, an impatient adult who needs to be in control of the situation, and an angry, rebelling teenager. These are examples of personality aspects.

A personality aspect is a part of oneself that has a coherent identity and predictable behavior pattern. It may also have its own ego. They each differ from the others and maintain that identity over time. There is a sense in which they are like social roles except that there is usually a characteristic emotional charge to them. You might say that each has an unique temperament. They all live inside us and, taken together, constitute a personality. Swami Radha used to call them the divine committee, with the ego as chairman of the board. Or you could think of them as a family because they do have relationships between them, and they are based, to a very large extent, upon our own experiences in our families of origin. We literally act out various scenarios from the past when certain stimuli trigger them. Some modern psychologists even refer to the pattern as a script. It is almost like we are trying to work out something or retrieve something that was lost by running it over and over again. And we can shift roles instantly in the middle of one of these vignettes. And angry woman who suddenly bursts into tears may be shifting from an adult to a child, for instance.

There are as many personality aspects as there are constellations in the personality, and the number will vary from one individual to another. We might have a child, an adult or several different kinds of adults, a rebel, a critic, a savior, a loyal friend, a traitor, a liar, a leader, a boss, a tyrant, a healer, a teacher, etc. The types are only limited by your imagination. However, you will know your set intimately. Think about how you behave differently in different relationships because, say, one person brings out the best in you while another gets on your nerves. Or perhaps you are gentle and kind to animals, but rough and unresponsive to your mate.

How these aspects relate to each other and the interactions between them give your personality its characteristic flavor and enable others to recognize you from one time to another. The ego has the job of keeping this house in order and mediating all the conflicts that may arise. It is rather like the boss who tells folks what to do and parcels out the assignments. If an ego is weak and cannot fulfill this task, the person is said to be mentally ill. In some cases, the personality aspects get out of hand and some may take over entirely or switch back and forth in command. We have mentioned the multiple personality disorder. This occurs when the immature ego in childhood is overwhelmed by severe trauma and the personality aspects become autonomous. Basically the self system disintegrates as a cohesive unit. Some aspects may be alienated and not know of the others. The aspects can then alternate in taking control of the individual's life. Obviously, this condition wreaks havoc in the person's daily life. This is an example of what can happen when the ego's legitimate role of coordinator is compromised. In neurotic systems, there may be a regression to more childlike kinds of behavior when the ego is threatened, but it nevertheless remains intact. In psychosis, the ego is entirely absent or overwhelmed, and chaos prevails. We see the same kinds of behaviors in dysfunctional families where there is no clear leadership and disorder rules the day.

Buddhist Realms or Families

In Buddhism, the Wheel of Life presents six different types of personality. These are defined as ways of experiencing life and no evaluative connotations are placed on them. It is recognized that we all have aspects of each realm in different proportions which gives us our unique definitions. And we are told that we can swing back and forth from one end of each continuum to the other being very neurotic on some occasions and very well balanced and healthy on others. For instance, in situations where someone makes an authoritarian demand on me, I shift instantly into my rebel character and become negative and rigid. Whereas, if someone asks for the same thing as a gentle request, I will knock myself out to oblige them.

The Buddha families are principles that are extensions of ourselves, types of people, different fundamental styles of enlightenment, intrinsic perspectives or stances in which we perceive the world and work with it. In other words, these represent various types of personalities. Each Buddha Realm is associated with one of the poisons. You may remember them: passion or holding on, aggression or attacking, and ignorance or ignoring.

The Buddha Realm or God Realm is one in which the focus is on how a person deals with his/her consciousness. At the negative extreme, a person may bliss out and selfishly give up all sense of responsibility. At the other would be sainthood, the optimal balance between higher consciousness and selfless service. This is the realm of space and all-encompassing wisdom. It is the contemplative experience that can be highly meditative, spacious, open potential. The negative side of this is basic ignorance, paralysis, laziness, loneliness, being "spaced out" and unwilling to express oneself. This realm is viewed on the Wheel as a Buddha playing music while other figures fly through the sky. The Buddha realm is white which represents impermanence.

The Animal Realm is the other one associated with ignorance, in this case the brutish tendencies to respond at an instinctual level. The picture shows us a bucolic environment with well-fed animals lounging around in it. However, in one corner, an archer is chasing some deer with a drawn bow. At the positive end of this dimension would be trustfulness, loyalty perhaps, and oneness with nature. At the negative end we find ignoring, passivity, dependency, selfishness, unconscious behaviors, lack of self-regulation, and victimization.

The Jealous God Realm which is associated with Karma is connected to aggression. In its positive form, it represents the wisdom of action, the ability to discriminate and cut away obstacles to enlightenment. Its characteristic attribute is action and the energy of efficiency and openness. You will recall that karma is the law of cause and effect. On the Wheel, this realm pictures hordes of soldiers in battle, a man cutting down a tree and a benevolent ruler dealing with his subjects. The negative aspects of this realm are jealousy, comparison, envy, anger, excessive orderliness and desire to create a uniform world, and resentment. This realm is green which represents knowledge.

The other realm connected with aggression is called the Vajra Realm or Hell. The vajra is a diamond scepter and it represents the mirror-like wisdom of discrimination. That includes sharpness of intellect, crystallization, indestructibility, logical evaluation and the ability to cut through non-essentials, directness and awareness of perspectives. It is represented on the Wheel by hell which is its opposite dimension. The negative points are anger, intellectual fixation, rigidity, aggression and uptightness. It is noteworthy that it is from this realm that routes of return to higher levels of consciousness are depicted. This realm opposes the Buddha realm on the Wheel. It is on the bottom of the picture, the Buddha realm is on the top. The color related to it is blue

The two realms associated with passion are the Human Realm and the Hungry Ghost Realm. The human or Padma Realm is depicted as a pleasant scene of home and family life which is deceptive since it is attachment to just those things which makes us return to human life over and over again. Here we have the possibility of the wisdom of discriminating awareness, compassion, real openness and a willingness to show ourselves, a sense of pleasure and promise, spontaneous hospitality, and curiosity. On the negative end, there is passion, the clinging, holding on and grasping that keeps us in the cycle of dependent origination or reincarnation. So we may encounter possessiveness, irresponsibility, seduction, and the need for control. The human realm is red

The last realm, that of the Hungry Ghost or Ratna, we have met before. The scene here is dominated by tiny, bloated figures with small mouths that are seen in various positions of humiliation. Here we have the wisdom of equanimity and abundance, expansion, enrichment, richness, extension and plentifulness on the positive side and starvation, deprivation, obesity, ostentatiousness, heedlessness and self- indulgence on the other. The color is yellow.

While we are discussing the Wheel of Life, there are a few other pictures on it that are relevant to our comparisons. The center of the Wheel, the hub, shows a rooster for passion or lust, a snake for aggression or hatred, and a boar for ignorance or delusion. These figures are holding on to each other's tails which indicates their relationship to each other. These represent the three poisons, passion, aggression and ignorance which keep the Wheel moving. There is a circle surrounding this which is half black and half white. The white side, on the left, shows figures rising that represent healthy volitions; and the black side on the right shows figures falling that signify unhealthy volitions. This indicates the struggle to achieve enlightenment and emphasizes the fact that one can move in both directions. Each realm has its own Buddha figure in a circle. That reminds us that there is a positive end of every continuum and a potential for enlightenment in each kind of personality characteristic.

Still another circle around the rim of the Wheel shows the twelve stages of dependent origination. This means dependence upon conditions which are variously originated. That it is a circle means that some effort must be made in order to escape from it. Otherwise, it will continue to replicate itself throughout multiple lives. These are the 12 motifs in the Karmic Law of Unfoldment or reincarnation that are depicted on the Wheel:

1. Ignorance (avidya)
2. Energy - tendencies from past lives (samskara)
3. Consciousness (vijnana), in this case frozen energy as in the skandhas
4. Bodymind (nama-rupa)
5. Six-fold bases of awareness (sad-ayatana), senses and mind
6. Contact (sparsa)
7. Feeling (vedana)
8. Desire (tanha)
9. Grasping (upadana)
10. Karmic tendencies formed in this life (bhava)
11. Birth (jati)
12. Death (jara-marana), decay and chaos

Buddhists say the easiest place to interrupt this cycle is at the level of desire and grasping. That is why renunciation is a primary practice on the spiritual path.

The Wheel, itself, is held by a horrific, bright red creature with fangs and claws. This is Kama or desire. You may draw your own conclusions about what that means.

In our Yogic symbolism for this chakra, the god Vishnu holds a mace as one of his tools. This is used to subdue the personality aspects.


You have already encountered the concept of individuation in Johnson's book Inner Work. He reminds us that individuation is ". . our waking up to our total selves, allowing our conscious personalities to develop until they include all the basic elements that are inherent in each of us at the preconscious level. . . actualizing the blueprint." (p. 11) Enlightenment is the path toward the unified self. He says: This means that we have to wrestle with our personalities and try to bring all their parts into alignment and integration. And that includes, not only the personality aspects and ego, but the soul and Higher Self as well. Ideally all parts will come to accept the leadership and governance of the Higher Self or Divine One.

Again we meet the paradox of the One and the many. The late Willis Harman says it very well. ". . there is indeed only one world, though with both an inside and an outside to it, only one world experienced by our senses from without, and by our consciousness from within. ." (p. 41) This simultaneous both one and many applies at every level of reality from the Absolute to the atomic. We are one and in One and of One. We are that I AM, and we are our own unique selves. Both. . . and.

Exercise: Wholeness

Read "Biology Revisioned" by Willis Harman in The Noetic Sciences Review, Spring, 1977, pp. 12-17, 39-42.

This is a profound statement by one of the leading visionaries of our time. Harman has led the way into a transformation of our world view of reality. He has been instrumental in guiding and supporting many young, inspired researchers who have found conventional scientific guidelines too restricting for modern experience. The time has come, Willis says, for us to acknowledge the transcendent in creation and to admit that there might be some realms we have not allowed or been able to explore because our world view was too constricted. Willis has experienced the many in One and sounds the clarion call for change in our outmoded ways of thinking.

See what you think about his ideas. Consider the consequences for education, business and the arts if he is correct. Then think about your own life. What would it mean for you to see yourself as both divine and human. How would your responsibilities change? What about your hierarchy of values? Would they shift? How would you have to re-orient your life if you accepted your divinity? What roles would your personality aspects now play in the total plan? You might want to look at each of them separately to see if you want to keep them all; and, if so, what their relationships to each other and the whole must be for your optimal health.

2. Draw a picture or make a collage of your interior family. Represent each personality aspect with its own unique symbol and a color appropriate to its feeling tone. Then try to show how this family is related to all of humanity and to the Absolute. A simple diagram will serve for this unless you just want to create a masterpiece. View your drawing from across the room and see if there is any hidden information in it. Have you drawn your current self or the ideal self? How would they differ? Make notes in your journal about what you have experienced.


"What are these tools doing up here?" Martin's face was screwed up in annoyance as he pointed to the kitchen drawer.

"I got tired of going up and down stairs every time I needed a pair of pliers," Nancy replied.

"What do you need pliers for?" He was getting angrier.

"Oh, I don't remember, probably something simple," she turned back to her dinner preparation.

"Well, fixing things is my job," Martin said. "Take them back downstairs."

"I will not," Nancy retorted, "You never get around to it. Besides, I know how to use tools."

An exchange like this is probably fairly common these days as our social roles become more confused and our agreement about what they should be is more often contested. A social role is very much like a dramatic role. It is a pattern of activity that has its own identity, characteristics and purpose. Usually the functions of roles are generally agreed upon by all members of the society. However, in recent years, the sex-roles, in particular, are being seriously challenged. A role serves to give everyone information about how to behave in various situations. And we also learn how to respond to someone who is playing a given role. This has its uses in simplifying social interactions because everyone knows what to expect under certain circumstances; and, therefore, we do not have to reinvent each interpersonal encounter.

Roles do, however, have their down side. Without realizing it, we can get locked into behaviors that are no longer functional, or our learning may be blocked because we do not dare do things differently for fear of reprisal from significant others in our lives. Psychologist are becoming more and more aware of the devastating effects of rigid role adherence in families. A child may, for instance, be forced to take on a specific role in order to relieve family pressures. The scapegoat is one such role. Or another child might take on the role of peacemaker and try to keep everyone happy all the time. This kind of typecasting may persist well into adulthood unless the person takes measures to disentangle him/herself.

Myths, fairy tales and folk heroes teach children many roles and show how they function in society. The witch, for example, immortalizes the role of the bad mother as seen by the unconscious of the child. The fairy godmother portrays the good mother. Incidently, opposing roles also reinforce the dualities we find everywhere in our lives. Heros and heroines are opposed to villains and demons, for instance. We can think of this another way. Myths, fairy tales and folk tales are often spiritual journey stories, and the characters in them can be likened to our personality aspects. The king represents the Higher Self, the queen stands for Divine Mother, the knight our ego, etc. Joseph Campbell's books on mythology have opened up these stories to much more in-depth interpretations. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1986), in particular, deals specifically with the spiritual journey.

Exercise: Fairy Tales

Find one of your favorite fairy tales or stories when you were a child and reread it. Notice first how different it seems to you now that you are an adult. Recall the circumstances under which it was read to you. If they were pleasant, such as you sitting on a parent's lap and being cuddled, that would tend to reinforce the underlying message of the story. Now read the story again looking deeper for the meaning of what is actually being taught. Think about it on two different levels, social and spiritual. Are there connotations on both levels? Usually a story that survives more than one generation has a universal message that appeals to the parent as well as to the child.

The fairy tale I remember best is "Cinderella," and I think that is because I always felt like the underdog in my family. As the eldest I had to take responsibility for my younger siblings when I would rather have been out playing with my friends. I also felt bullied by my parents. Now, as an adult, I can see the story, instead, as a message about transformation. One can be transformed by selfless service, patience, forbearance, and trying to be good and pure. The prince might represent the Higher Self who comes to the rescue. The mother and sisters are personality aspects that I dislike in myself: critic, jealousy, envy, one who makes demands, etc. So one can conclude that these tales teach on several levels with both good and bad results as potential outcomes.

Sex-role Stereotypes

Most everyone is familiar with the social upheaval caused by the current examinations of sex-role stereotyping. So, there will not be an intensive discussion of it here. But we should notice that sex-roles are not the only roles that may be damaging to people because they limit the dimensions of self that can be expanded. The ideal way to deal with all roles is to recognize them and to transcend them. By that, I mean that the individual should be able to choose to play or not to play a role at any one given time, not be driven to it.

For example, for twenty years I deeply resented my homemaker role because I had to do it. No one else in my family would relieve me of it except occasionally to do a set of dishes. I cooked three meals a day 365 days a year. I cleaned house, changed diapers, shopped for groceries, etc. At the first legitimate opportunity, I flew the coop. I went into an Ashram where, guess what, I had to do all the housekeeping chores. But I had a delightful surprise. First of all, I had chosen to do it. Second, someone else took the responsibility of delegating jobs, so I could be care-free. Third, I didn't have to do the same job every day and, fourth, there was always someone else working with me, well nearly always, so I had someone with whom to talk. What I discovered under these circumstances was that I actually enjoyed doing all the chores I had previously resented. And I did them with joy.

What happened to the sex-roles at the Ashram? Well, for one thing, everyone got assigned to all of the jobs on a rotating basis. If you did not know how to do something, they taught you. One rather small woman found herself in charge of maintenance and learned how to repair refrigerators and install roofing. The men learned to cook and clean. All of us gardened. All of us learned how to chant and conduct satsangs (worship services). It was liberation in action. I will never forget it, nor how all the residents there expanded their roles from those previously limited to those of whole persons. That is what is meant by role-transcendence. We chose to be plumbers, priests, bed makers, and biscuit makers as our services were needed. And the responsibilities were shared, so they did not become onerous.

Learned Helplessness

When children's activities are restricted so that they cannot learn to become competent, they may learn to be helpless instead. The caricature of the southern belle is a perfect role model for this. These women were raised to be dependent upon others to do the normal chores of life, so many were seriously compromised by the devastation of the Civil War. However, helplessness is not a prerogative of southern belles.

A great many people are unable to do the simplest household repairs, to run a computer, to give a dinner party, to travel alone, to mow a lawn, etc. And it is not due to lack of intelligence, it is due to social conditioning. Women, as we all know, are often taught that they cannot do mathematics. However, research shows that they are better in math than men until they become aware of men as the opposite sex. Then they develop math anxiety. Nor are women supposed to be able to do a whole host of tasks that are reserved for men. A good example is the "glass ceiling." Women find it extremely difficult to reach the upper levels of management. This is due to sex discrimination, of course, but it is primarily due to most women's lack of belief that they are capable of it. So they do not even try. And underneath this is the stronger conviction that no man would pay courting attention to them if they did not maintain the illusion of their helplessness which is supposed to stimulate the male's protectiveness. Here we see a nesting of role conditioning. One set of beliefs is encompassed, supported and encouraged by another. So no action is taken.

Incidently, men can learn helplessness too if their explorations into competency are severely restricted in childhood. This can happen when mothers are overwhelmingly overprotective.

The False Self

The false self is a kind of role because it is not real. It, too, is a pattern of behaviors that have become comfortable and familiar over time. In fact, it may be thought of as a set of roles that run themselves off under certain circumstances. It is something we know how to do without thinking about it (ignorance), and upsetting the internal balance may create pain and confusion. Even if the false self, itself, creates pain, more pain is anticipated if we even think of changing it. Let us look at another example.

Think about your relationship to your father (or mother if father was not a big part of your life when you were growing up). How did he expect you to behave at the dinner table? How did he want you to act toward him. What did you have to do when you were disciplined? All of the behaviors you identify in association with your father constitute part of your child role which may have changed when you were interacting with your mother. Now, to the extent to which you have developed a stable role to use in response to authority figures, consider what it would take to change it. If you do not assert yourself to authority figures such as your boss, for example, what would it feel like to do so? See what fears surface in response to this question, if it applies to you, of course.

What parts of yourself did you have to deny when confronting your father? The minister? Your teachers? The neighborhood bully? Your best friend? After you deny all these parts of yourself, what is left is the false self. It takes on a stable identity that enables you to go most places and do most things without seriously altering how you behave or generating any strong emotion. However, we get so used to playing this familiar role that we forget our other potentials, and so they go to waste.


We learned our roles through two important processes: imitation and acting out. Piaget (1952) saw these two types of activity as complementary. First children see someone doing something interesting, and they copy their behavior. This is imitation, and it requires that they change something in themselves in order to conform to the model (accommodation, remember?). Young children imitate everyone in the environment in order to learn new things. Then, as soon as the youngsters master the new pattern, they are ready for the next step.

A new pattern must be practiced in order for it to be learned (assimilation), so children act out the new forms in their play. When a group of children get together to play house or school or hospital or batman, they are assimilating and integrating the new patterns into their own repertoires. Many a mother has walked in upon her daughter playing dolls and heard herself talking: "Mary, you are a bad, bad dolly. Go to your room."

It is not only parents who are imitated. Other relatives, other children, other adults in the community, church, or school all serve as models, not to mention television which offers incontestably dynamic archetypes. Unfortunately many of these representations are horribly aggressive and brutal. Yet they are imitated without discrimination by those youngsters who are exposed to them.

Exercise: Models

Select one of your roles that you consider to be problematic for you. This would be some pattern that feels really alien to you though you also feel you must engage in it for whatever reasons. Perhaps you dislike your job, maybe you are unhappy in the family. Or you might have a friend with whom you are becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Make a list of all the things about this role that you dislike. What exactly do you have to do that is not right? Get all the parts of this written down.

Then look back through your past experience and find the person who modeled this role for you. It might be a parent, a friend, etc. Make a list of that person's characteristics that stand out for you. Then compare your two lists. Can you see the chain of learning? What other people in your life have inspired you to play this role? How did it get reinforced? How often do you play it? What would it take to give it up? What would giving it up mean? What would you lose? What would you gain? It might be useful to write out the answers to these questions.

When we identify with our egos or with a role, that is a misperception, according to Yoga, and it generates a sense of self-importance out of all proportion to the proper functions of ego and roles. It also diverts our attention away from who we truly are, The Higher Self. We forget our divinity in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

Who are you?

The answer to that question is critical. And it may vary from time to time depending upon how identified you are with your roles. You might respond to that question with your name. But what is that? What does your name mean, both literally and to you personally? How has it come to signify who you are?

There is a tradition in Yoga in which the answer to the question, "Who are you?" is "Neti, neti," not this, not this. At the end of this questioning, nothing is left. Where does that leave us?

Roberto Assagioli (1965, 116-123) has offered us an exercise in dis-identification which helps enormously to disengage ourselves from the false self and false roles. The first step is to affirm "I have a body, but I am not my body."(p.116) and it goes on to help you eliminate all those parts of self that are not the real you. You are led then to identify yourself as a center of pure self-consciousness. I recommend the book, and especially this exercise, to you to use as a cleansing process.

Assagioli is a psychotherapist who has played a seminal role in bringing the spiritual and transpersonal into therapy. He is particularly interested in the expansion of consciousness. I recommend his book, Psychosynthesis as a permanent addition to your library. He and Carl Jung have been the two most important therapists in the field of transpersonal psychotherapy.

Exercises: Who am I?

1. Read the Katha Upanishad, The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, and chapter 11 in A Path with Heart. Then make some notes in your journal about the points that impacted you. Who do you think you are now? How has that changed, if it has? How does the east Indian concept of Self differ from what we have been discussing? Do you think there is a fundamental difference between eastern and western views of identity? If so, what is it?

2. Do this exercise with someone else you feel comfortable with if possible. If not, do it in front of a mirror. Sit facing the person or mirror in a comfortable position. With a partner, you take turns of 10 minutes each. One partner asks: "Who are You?" Then the other answers. The question is repeated over and over and answered each time until the ten minutes is up. The same person questions for ten minutes and the other answers. Then you switch. The object is to exhaust all your answers. Then see what comes up. If you are working with a mirror, ask and answer the questions yourself. When you are questioning, try to be objective, and say nothing else but the question. When you are answering, probe yourself. When you are finished, share your experience with your partner. Then write a short paper on what happened and what you learned about yourself.

3. Read chapter 20 in Journeys with a Brother (Moore, 1995) if you can find a copy. Bartholomew is a discarnate entity who is channeled by Mary Margaret Moore of Taos, New Mexico. If you are familiar with some of the other channeled material such as Seth, Emmanuel and The Course in Miracles, you will recognize the message. This reading offers yet another dimension to our study of the Self. Think about who you are on the upper levels of reality. Compare this perspective with that of Deepak Chopra, The Katha Upanishad and Ramana Marharshi. Consider your own self-concept or self-image in the light of these concepts of who you are. What would it take to bridge the gap? Do you want to?

Mindfulness Training

. . . we have repositioned our life with respect to our past and our future. We have arrived at a new Now, and this is the Open Moment of our life. --Ira Progoff, At a Journal Workshop

One way of looking at the three worlds is as past, present and future. As Americans, we spend a great deal of our time in the past reliving our history or in the future anticipating what will be likely to come. In fact we may spend so much time in these worlds that we miss the present entirely. Someone once said that this moment is such a gift that that is why it is called the "Present."

This is the only moment we have. This is the open moment.

One of the central Buddhist practices is mindfulness practice. It is very simple to describe: You just pay complete attention to whatever it is you are doing at this moment. Give it full concentration. Do not think of anything else. Let go of the past and the future, even the last or next minute. Swami Padmananda used to say, "I am doing what is in front of me."

If you can train yourself to do this in all of your waking life, you will find that the universe will care for you. All you need will be supplied. This is not to duck responsibility. You take care of that in the moment in which it is needed. Nor do you not plan ahead if that is required. But you do not dwell in the future, nor try to rehash the past. This practice is pre-eminently practical. It deals with what is and nothing more. It will bring you down out of your head and into your body and heart where the action truly is. This practice is not easy, but it is worth every minute of it.

Try it and see for yourself.

Exercise: Spiritual Practice

If you are ready and willing, begin to tune in to the Higher Power. Use your meditation time to center yourself and quiet the mind. Then imagine yourself opening as if you were a satellite dish, open to the Divine One. If you are troubled by astral invasions, say, "Only the Highest Power may come in." You can imagine a channel from the Divine One directly to you or, alternatively, see yourself protectively enclosed within the One.

When you sense the Presence, you may ask questions or ask for protection and love. Or you may just sink into Its Love. If it feels appropriate, you may want to dedicate your day to the One, offering yourself as a channel for Its Work. Always offer your gratitude, when you are ending the session, for whatever you have received. Humility is essential, reverence and awe, but you need not denigrate yourself. You are a Divine creation and an integral part of the One. It loves you unconditionally.

Many blessings on your journey.

In this unit we have learned how personality and roles are developed in early childhood and how they can create problems for spiritual aspirants. Some discriminations are needed to distinguish between the legitimate functions of these aspects of our self and what is necessary in order to function effectively in the modern world.


Assagioli, Roberto. Psychosynthesis: A manual of principles and techniques. New York: Viking Press, 1965.

Bartholomew. Journeys with a brother Japan to India: Bartholomew and the Dalai Lama in the Himalaya. Taos, NM: The High Mesa Foundation, 1995.

Bercholz, Samuel (Ed.) The spiritual teaching of Ramana Maharshi. Boulder: Shambhala, 1972.

Bradshaw, John. Bradshaw on: The family: a revolutionary way of self-discovery. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1988.

Campbell, Joseph. The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton, NJ: Bollinger Series XVII, Princeton University Press, 1968.

Chopra, Deepak. The Higher Self: The magic of inner and outer fulfillment, a set of five tapes. Chicago: Nightingale-Conant Corp. 1966, 1-800-323-5552.

Easwaran, Eknath (Tr.). The Upanishads. Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press, 1987.

Erikson, Eric. Identity, youth and crisis. New York: Norton, 1968

Harmon, Willis. "Biology Revisioned." Noetic sciences review, Spring, 1997, 14.

Iyer, Raghavan (Ed.) The Gospel according to Thomas. New York: Concord Grove Press, 1983.

Johari, Harish. Chakras: Energy centers of transformation. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1987.

Johnson, Robert A. Inner Work: Using dreams and active imagination for personal growth. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1986.

Jordan, Michael. Encyclopedia of Gods: Over 2,500 deities of the world, New York: Facts on File, 1993.

Kagan, Spencer and Millard C. Madsen. Cooperation and Competition of Mexican, Mexican-American and Anglo-American Children of Two Ages Under Four Instructional Sets." Developmental psychology, 1971, 5, 32-9.

Kagan, Spencer and Millard C. Madsen. "Experimental Analyses of Cooperation and Competition of Anglo-American and Mexican Children." Developmental psychology, 1972, 6, 49-59.

Kohn, Alfie. No contest: The case against competition. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1986.

Kornfield, Jack. A path with heart: A guide through the perils and promises of spiritual life. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.

Miller, Alice. For your own good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence. New York: The Noonday Press, 1990.

Moore, Mary-Margaret (Channel) & Joy Franklin (Eds.). Journeys with a brother Japan to India: Bartholomew and the Dalai Lama in the Himalaya. Taos, NM: The High Mesa foundation, 1995.

Phillips, Rick. Emergence of the divine child: Healing the emotional body. Santa Fe: Bear & Co., 1990.  Now republished as Windows to the soul (1997)

Piaget, J. The origins of intelligence in children (2nd ed.). New York, International Universities Press, 1952.

Progoff, Ira. At a journal workshop: The basic text and guide for using the Intensive Journal Process. New York: Dialogue House Library, 1975, p. 287.

Rama, Swami, R. Ballentine, & Swami Ajaya. Yoga and psychotherapy: The evolution of consciousness. Honesdale, PA: Himalayan International Institute, 1981.

Schaef, Anne W. Co-Dependence: Misunderstood-Mistreated. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986.

Whitfield, Charles L. Healing the child within: Discovery and recovery for adult children of dysfunctional families, Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1989.

Woodroffe, Sir John. The serpent power. Hollywood, CA: Vedanta Press, 1973.

You have now completed Unit VIII on Identification and Soul Loss and have seen how the false self and roles come into power. And you have given some thought to who you really are. The next Unit IX. Soul Retrieval, Healing and Wholeness explores some ways we can address the problems created by imagination and soul loss.

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