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“The word "character" implies a bundle of traits and qualities, habits and patterns; it requires descriptive language such as we find in character references, letters of recommendation, primary school report cards, scripts and novels, performance criticism, obituaries....”

“We are influenced far beyond our wildest imagination by our societal conditioning, beliefs, paradigms, desires, attachments, cravings, grasping, perceived individualism, and most of all our ignorance. i.e. unawareness.” – William (in previous thread).

I agree with William, so ultimately, Tolle must be correct unless we are content to remain in unawareness.

From the book “on the edge of the etheric” by Findlay. P 128

“Question: Do we always retain our individuality?

Answer: Think of a country-side with glens and hills. The rain falls and gradually trickles down into small streams, which streams gather volume until they enter a brook, which book in turns enters a river, which in turn enters a larger river and sweeps onward to the sea. Each individual can be compared to an atom in the raindrop. The atom retains form and individuality throughout the whole course, from the hill to the sea, and even in the sea of full understanding, when we become part of the divinity.”

Does this spirit suggest that we always retain our individuality but although this may be a good analogy I feel we never stop learning and advancing in understanding until our identity becomes that that is. (I.e. we never lose our identity one of our greatest fears). I believe at this time that individualism and personal identity becomes less and less important to our soul as we advance into these higher realms.

We are always of the divinity. Granted we progress in awareness but we cannot be outside this divinity. Isness is; there is no other. What keeps us from having this full understanding? Why it is unawareness and a synonym for unawareness is ignorance.

Where did this ignorance come from? Why “God” of course. Without that ignorance there is no dance of life or stated another way no dynamic drama we call life. Without unawareness Isness cannot express itself as an infinite variety of expressions.

For you math folks Oneness + ignorance = X (unknown perceived identities). Remember the ego despises the word ignorance so you may want to change the word ignorance to unawareness in the formula.

"We are influenced far beyond our wildest imagination by our societal conditioning, beliefs, paradigms, desires ..."

Hillman would say that our essential character does not come from societal conditioning, but rather is something we are born with. His book The Soul's Code fleshes out this idea with the image of a acorn. The acorn is the seed from which the oak tree grows, and all the qualities of the oak are latent in the acorn. In the same way, our mature qualities are with us, in undeveloped form, at the very start. So while we can be influenced by our environment in various ways, who we essentially are is something that precedes and overshadows our environmental influences.

In effect, we each have a destiny, and character is destiny.

Is this not perhaps a more ennobling way of looking at it than the Tolle approach? I admit I have been partial to Tolle, but always with some reservations, and Hillman's view brings those reservations to the forefront for me.

Here's a fence-sitting answer, from a song in one of the Jefferson Airplane albums:

"No man is an island--he's a peninsula."

“Hillman would say that our essential character does not come from societal conditioning, but rather is something we are born with”

I would agree that our essential character is something we are born with but: societal conditioning and a whole host of other factors can have an influence on our choices and therefore our fate but not our final soul destiny. I do not believe our destiny in any life is as predetermined as an acorn but flexible to a degree.

There are many variables that determine our fate within a life but I suspect the most important variable influencing our life is the character traits we are born with. This is why reincarnation fills in a lot of blanks for me when it comes to fate, destiny, and character development.

A human has a much more complex and multifaceted consciousness than an acorn and I suspect many more variables influencing its choices and over time its character and fate.

I suspect as a soul matures there is much less variation in character traits with “elder” souls being much more compassionate, loving and demonstrating higher levels of divine intelligence. We are gods in the making but only after traveling through many realms of existence each one at a higher vibratory level.

“The more one thinks about the plot of life, the more that plot thickens.”
John Polkinghorne a physicist who became an Anglican priest.

From one who is in the Spirit World.

FWH Myers, the classical scholar, writing through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins:


THE group-soul is one and yet many. The informing spirit makes these souls one. I think I have explained to you before, that as there are certain centres in the brain, so in psychic life there are a number of souls all bound together by one spirit, depending for their nourishment on that spirit.

When I was on earth I belonged to a group-soul, but its branches and the spirit-which might be compared to the roots-were in the invisible. Now, if you would understand psychic evolution, this group-soul must be studied and understood.

For instance, it explains many of the difficulties that people will assure you can be removed only by the doctrine of reincarnation. You may think my statement frivolous, but the fact that we do appear on earth to be paying for the sins of another life is, in a certain sense, true.

It was our life, and yet not our life. In other words, a soul belonging to the group of which I am a part lived that previous life, which built up for me the framework of my earthly life, lived it before I had passed through the gates of birth.

In this invisible world there is infinite variety of conditions. I can only speak of what I know. I do not claim to be infallible. Take the following as the axiom I would lay down for you.

Many Soul-men do not seek another earth life, but their spirit manifests itself many times on earth and it is the bond which holds together a group of souls, who, in the ascending scale of psychic evolution, act and react upon one another.

So, when I talk of my spiritual forbears I do not speak of my physical ancestors, I speak of those soul-ancestors who are bound to me by one spirit. There may be contained within that spirit twenty souls, a hundred souls, a thousand souls. The number varies. It is different for each man. But what the Buddhists would call the karma I had brought with me from a previous life is, very frequently, not that of my life, but of the life of a soul that preceded me by many years on earth and left for me the pattern which made my life. I, too, wove a pattern for another of my group during my earthly career. We are all of us distinct, though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.

When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of births, of man's continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth. And often half a truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement. I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern or karma I have woven for him on earth. No doubt "karma" is a word I use incorrectly here. For it is something more and something less than karma that he inherits. I am, therefore, a kingdom, and yet I am but a unit in that kingdom.

You may say to me that, for the Soul-man, one earth life is not enough. But, as we evolve here, we enter into those memories and experiences of other lives that are to be found in the existence of the souls that preceded us, and are of our group.

I do not say that this theory, which I offer you, can be laid down as a general rule. But undoubtedly it is true in so far as it is what I have learned and experienced.

Now, this speculation-as you would probably call it-is interesting when applied to genius. The souls who have preceded us on earth naturally stamp us mentally and morally. If a certain type of psyche is continually being evolved in the one group, you will find that eventually that type, if it be musical, will have a musical genius as its representative on earth. It will harvest all the tendencies in those vanished lives, and it will then have the amazing unconscious knowledge that is the property of genius.

Here, in the After-death, we become more and more aware of this group-soul as we make progress. Eventually we enter into it and share the experiences of our brethren.

You must understand, therefore, that existence for my soul-as separate and apart from my individual ego-is dual. I lived two lives, one in the world of form, and one subjective, in the community of which I am a member.

Men and women may not care to accept these statements of mine. They long either for an indestructible individuality in the Hereafter or for a kind of spiritual swoon in the life of God. You will perceive in my analysis of the group-soul that we are individuals and members of one whole. And when you come to the Fourth, and more particularly to the Fifth stage, you will realize how fine and beautiful is this brotherhood within the one being; how it deepens and intensifies existence; how it destroys the cold selfishness so necessary to an earth life, where one living creature must continually destroy another's manifestation in matter in order to maintain its physical life.

In the Fourth stage the soul becomes sensible of the group-soul, and through the awareness there arises a great change. He begins gropingly to realize the character of experience, the possibilities of mind; and in this Fourth stage if he is a Soul-man he is peculiarly liable to error. That is to say, once he becomes cognisant of the group-soul and of its many emotional and intellectual experiences he may, if a certain section of that group-soul be in a fixed mould, take upon himself its shape and remain within it for aeons of time. In this connection when I write "mould" I desire to indicate a certain special outlook.

For instance, a fanatical Buddhist or a very devout Christian may be held within the groove of his earthly beliefs. For those other souls in his community are, perhaps, also, held in the chains of those particular ideas. So there he may remain, making no progress, in a thought or in a memory world, which consists of the Christian or of the Buddhist dream. He is held fast in the tentacles of an octopus.

This octopus is the earthly Christian or Buddhist idea of an After-life, their view of the universe as created when on earth.
Now, you will recognize that such conditions tend to inhibit progress. For it means--to use another metaphor--dwelling in an intellectual chrysalis, living in the past earthly conceptions. And it is needful that the journeying soul should come to a state in which he can at will survey them, but not be held by them, or be imprisoned in their limitations.

Extracted from "The Road to Immortality" by Geraldine Cummins - highly recommended.

Have a cup of tea.

I'd suggest that Hillman's correct until such time as one realizes that Tolle is.

I think there are certain innate traits and tendencies that manifest on the level of the individual. Those traits and tendencies are extremely powerful, and it's easy to conclude, as Hillman does, that they are permanent and eternal. Still, the key to understanding Tolle is contained in the first sentence of the above excerpt: "In you, as in each human being, there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought."

Anyone who directly experiences the dimension of consciousness to which Tolle is referring simultaneously experiences the dissolution of their prior concepts of who and what they are. Tolle has had that experience, Hillman has not.

Tolle is pointing to the silent mind, the observer consciousness, Pope's Eternal Sunshine. The sunshine is always there, but few see it beyond the clouds of our personal thoughts. Hillman is focused on the clouds, the shapes and forms that we clearly identify, while Tolle is pointing to the sunshine. The sunshine is "deeper than thought", beyond thought itself.

Tolle is trying to lead others to the direct experience of reality beyond all thought, while Hillman is trying to think his way to understanding reality. Yet, how can someone think their way to understanding that which is deeper than thought itself? At the same time, how can someone express to another the existence of that which is beyond all thought?

Round and round we go, all to answer one simple question: Who am I, really?

Described as "one of the great systematizers of the notion of the unconscious mind”, F.W.H. Myers was a pioneer in the study of dissociation, transmarginal or "subliminal" consciousness, and psychical research.

Born in England and educated at Cambridge University, Myers believed that a theory of consciousness must derive from, and be able to accommodate in a unified model of mind, the full range of human experience, including not only normal psychological phenomena but also the wide variety of abnormal and what Myers called "supernormal" phenomena.

In numerous papers published in the 1880s and 1890s, culminating in a posthumously published book, "Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death" (2 vols.), Myers described and discussed a vast array of phenomena of subliminal origin, including dreams, automatic writing, hallucinations, apparitions, creativity and genius, hysteria, multiple personality, trance mediumship, telepathy, and hypnosis and mesmerism.

All of these phenomena involved what Myers called "automatisms," that is, the emergence of latent subliminal material in sensory or motor processes, either in particular individuals or particular circumstances in which the normal barrier between the subliminal regions of mind and waking awareness has become more unstable or "permeable."

According to William James, "through him for the first time, psychologists are in possession of their full material"

Perhaps more importantly, however, Myers attempted to systematize all these phenomena and show their relations to each other and to normal psychological processes with his theory of the Subliminal Self. According to this theory, our ordinary waking (or supraliminal) consciousness is but a small segment of a larger Individuality or Self, selected out of the latter in response to the demands of the environment.

Myers’ conception of the subliminal regions of consciousness was thus very different from more limited conceptions such as Janet’s model of dissociation or Freud’s model of repression, most of which viewed subliminal phenomena as pathological. Myers instead took the broader view that all subliminal phenomena are manifestations of a basic psychological process—namely, the loosening of the ordinary barrier between the subliminal and supraliminal regions of mind—and that they can take both pathological (or "dissolutive") forms and beneficial (or "evolutive") forms. James labelled the problem of understanding subliminal consciousness "the problem of Myers," a problem that "still awaits us as the problem of far the deepest moment for our actual psychology".

Myers amplified his views in his post-mortem communications through the Irish automatist, Geraldine Cummins - an extract of which I posted earlier.

Round and round we go, all to answer one simple question: Who am I, really? -Michael H.

…which is surely another way of God saying, “I am that I am” as he continually makes Himself manifest.

They long either for an indestructible individuality in the Hereafter or for a kind of spiritual swoon in the life of God. -Zerdini

These are both nice phrases. So nice, that, although I thought I was a monist (beliefs must always give way to insights!), they endear me to a strange kind of dualism; not Cartesian dualism, but Unmanifest/Manifest dualism. It would have to be the constant interplay of the two that creates reality. In other words, the cosmic compulsion for continuous cycles of creation (which Peter Kingsley mentions) is unavoidably part of Being. It’s the cosmic dance, and maybe it’s an activity rather than a state.

So in reply to MP’s question, “What is the real you?”, we could answer, “We are both an individual and the whole – they are two sides of the same coin, and, like dancer and dance, neither can ever exist without the other.”

From my point of view one reality must always be considered when we study life after death and the meaning and purpose of our lives. That reality may be that we cannot put all our eggs in one basket and call it absolute truth. There appears to be much variation in thought and teachings of souls beyond earth existence as there is variation in thought and teachings on this earth.

I believe at this time that as we as souls transition to higher realms of existence where mind has more control over its environment with its thoughts; we may well indeed join our conscious thoughts and vitality with a group and be considered more of a group soul.

It makes sense to me that as our consciousness has less variation and several souls are in “harmony” with one another they may indeed join their forces by combining the vitality of each soul and this may indeed advance their ability to maximize their creative endeavors.

This group soul phenomenon may be one of the beginning stages of our journey back to this oneness of thought, which might well be pure awareness that most call God. Or not.

So in reply to MP’s question, “What is the real you?”, we could answer, “We are both an individual and the whole – they are two sides of the same coin, and, like dancer and dance, neither can ever exist without the other.”

That's very interesting, Ben. The Taoist concept of yin and yang might come into play here, as well.

"The experience will deepen and reinforce your sense of individuality, and you will know for yourself that you are one in many, and yet many in one."

The above accompanies an exercise provided by the channelled Seth very early in his collaboration with Jane Roberts.

The material became more sophisticated as Jane became more familiar with it; some of the concepts in the exercise are a bit dated, in that sense, yet it is still effective. (Concepts of linear time and serial reincarnation were gradually superceeded by richer and more expansive concepts such as simultaneous time, probable realities, and so on.)

The exercise is the eighth at

The answer to these questions will vary greatly depending on the degree to which Huxley's "reducing valve" is closed or open.

The results of my own preliminary investigations, subject to perpetual revision, suggest that we are all connected within the largest region of self, as it is one. (I'll skip the explanation of why I believe this is so -- too lengthy for here and I lack the time.)

Endless other connections between selves and regions of self prevail within lesser regions, down to the narrowest and most material region.

When the valve is screwed all the way shut none of this is apparent; self is not conscious of it.

That self is unique; it embodies unique experience, and nothing is lost in a timeless reality -- if it ever existed, it exists, it is.

Its larger self is unique in the same way; its experience is unique, too, although by its nature it is much more thoroughly and continuously aware of the greater connectedness.

None of this says our immediate sense of self is static, nor does it imply the ego is not a necessary and natural feature of overall personhood extremely difficult to do without while physically embodied. There's no reason not to cherish it, then, like a favorite shirt; should it in fact prove to be eternal, imagine a closet full of them.

Of course the living being within the ego is who we are; the ego then is merely an outer expression. We are then an individual, many individuals, and all else, owing to the connectedness of being.

This is a tricky topic to write about, needless to say; focusing on it can cause your own consciousness to fluctuate, your own reducing valve to open and close. Your "I" shifts around, and with it your answer(s) to the question.

Bill I.

"Anyone who directly experiences the dimension of consciousness to which Tolle is referring simultaneously experiences the dissolution of their prior concepts of who and what they are. Tolle has had that experience, Hillman has not." -Michael H.

When you realize that you are not Hillman's forms, but that which experiences those forms, then, yes, the concepts change; but the forms do not. They may soften a bit,since you are regarding them through a different window, and the expression and emotion that comes through those forms may change drastically; but the forms, in an elemental way, are still the same.

We (Tolle's we, not Hillman's we)are here because we want to be here, each for his or her own unique reasons. These unique sets of desires and our ideas about how to best achieve those desires create the forms that Hillman speaks of. These forms, from my perspective, effect our choice of genome that we decide to experience our life through, and effect how we use those genes to give shape to and materialize these ideas. Perhaps in another life, after we have experienced what we need to experience, or learned what we need to learn, our desires for another life will be different and the forms will be different. But in this life, with this genome and this body/brain, we are stuck with the same forms. And, so what? Beauty, wisdom and love can be expressed through any form.

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