What’s in a Self? Soul, Personality & Ego
Question from a reader:
It sounds like you are using “personality” here as another word for the ego, so let me define a few things before I attempt to answer your question so that we’re all on the same page.
“I am a bit confused about personality and soul. I understand about being in alignment and think I can feel when I am in it. However I am not sure if this is because I am in alignment with my personality or soul. If I live not in balance with my personality, I am soon aware that I don’t feel in alignment, but I thought that our personalities are just cloaks for our souls? Rarely do I feel urge to do something which I wouldn’t ordinarily do and wondered if this is soul overriding personality? I guess we have to respect both?”
I define the ego as a personality construct of sorts, a persona or an identity that we develop for ourselves. The ego is complex and it’s made up of a series of beliefs that we hold about ourselves and who we are, many of which are shaped by outside forces as we develop as children. The ego is the totality of our conscious self. It is how we see ourselves. This is the Jungian view of the Ego, wherein it is only a small part of the total self–in essence, the part of yourself that is fully known to you. The part that is NOT fully known to you, Jung calls the shadow self.
The way I define personality isn’t necessarily that it is a set of beliefs about ourselves, but rather the result of that set of beliefs: a way of thinking and acting. It’s more of a mechanism through which the self is expressed. You might also think of it as a unique expression of the soul in this singular incarnation.
The Self, The Soul, and The Spirit
In Jungian terms, all of the things we previously discussed, both conscious and unconscious, universal and singular, roll up together into the “Self,” including the universal archetypes, the masculine and feminine aspects of ourselves, and the collective unconscious. You might say that Jung’s notion of an actualized “Self” was a fully enlightened, integrated human being.
I’m reading a great book right now called Eastern Body, Western Mind which marries the subjects of Jungian psychology with the concept of the chakra system. In this book, the author makes an excellent point about the concept of soul and spirit.
Some people use those words interchangeably, while others make a distinction between soul as being an “incarnate” spirit, and a spirit being a soul when it is not incarnate.
The author of the book explained this in a much more fluid fashion, and since I find that so many other spiritual concepts are also extremely fluid, this really resonated with me. We hear about how the soul enters and leaves the body through the crown chakra and typically we think of that as something that happens once per lifetime. So, as most people see it, a soul enters the body where it dwells until the body dies.
Instead of going with the notion that soul and spirit are two “different” things, imagine the “spirit” as simply being the universal energy of all that is. “God,” if you will, or “spirit” as some people refer to it. Spirit is the energy flowing down through the body, entering through the crown and flowing down through each of the chakras to the root, which is the most material that the spirit can be–a body. This, we would call “soul.”
Basically, the concept of soul and spirit are fluid. Soul is what is closer to the earth (root chakra) and spirit is what is closer to “Heaven” (crown chakra). Both are a part of one another, but express themselves in varying degrees depending on where they find themselves.
Alignment is simply when you are fully embodying here on earth, that universal energy, or as I said in my previous post on alignment, when you are acting, living, and being in a loving vibration.
When one is not in alignment, we are living from our unexamined ego self and ignoring the unconscious part of ourselves. We behave and react out of conditioned responses rather than truly acting from a “free” will, which is unencumbered by negative belief patterns.
Neale Donald Walsh explained it in another way in Conversations with God, where God said, “Your will is my will, but my will is not your will.” This is when a person is not in alignment, when they are not acting, living and being in a loving vibration. When they are living and acting from fear.
You will know when you’re in alignment, because you will feel loved and you will feel happy and fulfilled, and that will be expressed through your personality.
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