Personality and Essence


In speaking about essence and personality today, what I particularly wanted was to remind you and if necessary again and again – that the separation of essence and personality by one’s own voluntary effort of attention with the help of specially devised exercises is something very precarious and – as many of you have verified – it enables one only to hold oneself apart from the personality without being able to be conscious of the essence which is in the background. If you have ever seen this for yourselves, then you must remember that and get more and more accustomed to the idea that what is necessary for all of us is that there should be such a separation so that the work in the essence can really go forward. And this essence of ours – in which all our hopes really lie – should begin to come to life. But it will not come to life as a completely grown-up, well-behaved, well-educated person like the personality. It comes to life in a strange kind of way, something like the picture of a little child inside a bear. The bear is big and strong, and very rough and wild, with no manners; the little child is inside, but cannot manage the bear. That is how you may begin to feel when you begin to waken in that way. And you realise that somehow or another that bear has got to be changed; bear, or tiger, or horse, or dog, or weasel, or whatever the wild animal may be.


If you begin to feel and see all this in yourself and really have begun to recognise and know something of the uneducatedness and of the unpreparedness for life of your own essence, then you have seen a great deal – much more than most people see even after many years of work. I remember how, eleven year’s ago, during the journey from London to the coast, at four o’clock in the morning – all the way down on that journey – I really saw, and never lost this realisation of who was who and what was what in me. This is exactly the same as many of you have seen in these exercises. They are really a blessing that cannot be measured, just only because they make it possible for people to know what is essence, what is personality, what is the condition of the essence and what is the condition of the personality. And I think that many of you have really begun to see that our thinking – all our thinking – is something that is in personality alone; and that we have never had the experience of essence-thinking, or any idea what essence-thinking could possibly be, because essence-thinking really only belongs to the third stage, the adulthood of the essence. The essence-child really cannot think, even as much as the personality-child appears to be able to think. And therefore one must not forget, all the time, in everything, that whenever we think it is our personality that thinks and it cannot be anything else; and however necessary it may be that the personality should think about its own problems, it cannot think about the essence.


-J.G. Bennett. Quote taken from





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