PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUALITY
H. Emilie Cady
Lessons in Truth
1. One of the greatest beauties of the Sermon on the Mount is the childlike simplicity of its language. Every child, every grown person, be he ever so uneducated, if he can read at all can understand it. Not a word in it requires the use of a dictionary; not a sentence in it that does not tell the way so plainly that "the wayfaring men, yea, fools, shall not err therein" (Is. 35:8). And yet the Nazarene was the fullest, most complete manifestation of the one Mind that has ever lived; that is to say, more of the wisdom that is God came forth through Him into visibility than through anyone else who has ever lived. The more any person manifests the true wisdom, which is God, the more simple are his ways of thinking and acting; the more simple are the words through which he expresses his ideas. The greater the truth to be expressed, the more simple can it (and should it) be clothed.
2. Emerson said, "Converse with a mind that is grandly simple, and all literature looks like word-catching."
3. In the metaphysical literature of today a good many terms are used that are very confusing to those who have not taken a consecutive course of lessons on the subject. It seems to me wise to give here a clear, simple explanation of two words frequently used, so that even the most unlearned may read understandingly.
4. The words personality and individuality present distinct meanings to the trained mind, but by the untrained mind they are often used interchangeably and apart from their real meanings.
5. Personality applies to the human part of you--the person, the external. Your personality may be agreeable or disagreeable to others. When you say that you dislike anyone, you mean that you dislike his personality--that exterior something that presents itself from the outside. It is the outer, changeable man, in contradistinction to the inner or real, man.
6. Individuality is the term used to denote the real man. The more God comes into visibility through a person the more individualized he becomes. By this I do not mean that one's individuality is greater when one is more religious. Remember, God is wisdom, intelligence, love, power. The more pronounced the manner in which any one of these qualities--or all of them--comes forth into visibility through a man, the greater his individuality.
7. Emerson was a man of large individuality, but retiring personality. He was grandly simple. He was of a shrinking, retiring nature (or personality). But just in proportion as the human side of him was willing to retire and be thought little of, did the immortal, the God in him, shine forth in greater degree.
8. John the Baptist represents the illumined intellect, the highest development of human conscioussness. We may think of him as standing for personality, whereas Jesus typifies the divine self or individuality. John, recognizing the superiority of Jesus, said, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (Jn. 3:30).
9. One's individuality is that part of one that never changes its identity. It is the God self. It is that which distinguishes one person from another. One's personality may become like that of others with whom one associates. Individuality never changes.
10. Do not confound the terms. One may have an aggressive, pronounced personality, or external man, which will, for a time, fight its way through obstacles and gain its point. But a pronounced individuality never battles; it is never puffed up; it is never governed by likes and dislikes and never causes them in others; it is God come forth in greater degree through a man, and all mere personality instinctively bends the knee before it in recognition of its superiority.
11. We cultivate individuality by listening to the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12) down deep within us, and boldly following it, even if it does make us different from others, as it surely will. We cultivate personality, in which live pride, fear of criticism, and all manner of selfishness, by listening to the voices outside ourselves and by being governed by selfish motives, instead of by the highest within us. Seek always to cultivate, or bring into visibility, individuality, not personality. In proportion as one increases, the other must decrease.
12. Whenever we fear a man, or shrink before him, it is because his personality, being the stronger, overcomes ours. Many timid persons go through life always feeling that they are inefficient, that others are wiser or better than they. They dread to meet a positive, self-possessed person; and when in the presence of such a one, they are laid low, just as a field of tall wheat is after a fierce windstorm has swept across it. They feel as though they would like to get out of sight forever.
13. All this, dear timid ones, is not because your fellow really is wiser or better than you, but because his personality--the external man--is stronger than yours. You never have a similar feeling in the presence of strong individuality. Individuality in another not only produces in you an admiration for its superiority, but it also gives you, when you are in its presence, a strange new sense of your own inherent possibilities, a sense that is full of exhilaration and comfort and encouragement to you. This is because a pronounced individuality simply means more of God come forth into visibility through a person, and by some mind process it has power to call forth more of God through you.
14. If you want to know how to avoid being overcome and thrown off your feet by the strong personality of others, I will tell you:
15. Always remember that personality is of the human and individuality is of God. Silently affirm your own individuality, your oneness with God, and your superiority to personality. Can God fear any person?
16. If you are naturally inclined to be timid or shrinking, practice of the following will help you overcome it. As you walk down the street and see anyone coming toward you, even a stranger to you, silently affirm such words as: "I am a part of God in visibility; I am one with the Father; this person has no power over me, for I am superior to all personality." Cultivate this habit of thinking and affirming whenever you approach any person, and you will soon find that no personality, however strong and aggressive, has the power to throw you out of the most perfect poise. You will be self-possessed because God-possessed.
17. Some years ago I found myself under a sense of bondage to a strong, aggressive personality with whom, externally, I had been quite intimately associated for several months. I seemed to see things through another's eyes; and while I was more than half conscious of this, yet I could not seem to throw it off. This personality was able, with very few words, to make me feel as if all that I said or did was a mistake, and that I was a most miserable failure. I was always utterly discouraged after being in this presence, and felt that I had no ability to accomplish anything.
18. After vainly trying for weeks to free myself, one day I was walking along the street, with a most intense desire and determination to be free. Many times before, I had affirmed that this personality could not affect or overcome me, but with no effect. This day I struck out farther and declared (silently of course), "There is no such personality in the universe as this one," affirming it again and again many times. After a few moments I began to feel wondrously lifted, and as if chains were dropping off. Then the voice within me urged me on a step farther to say, "There is no personality in the universe; there is nothing but God." After a short time spent in vigorously using these words, I seemed to break every fetter. From that day to this, without further effort, I have been as free from any influence of that personality as though it had never existed.
19. If at any time the lesser affirmation of Truth fails to free you from the influence of other minds, try this more sweeping one, "There is no personality in the universe; there is nothing but God," and you are bound to be made free.
20. The more you learn to act from the "still small voice" within you, the stronger and more pronounced will be individuality in you.
21. If you are inclined to wilt before strong personalities, always remember that God has need of you, through whom, in some special manner, to manifest Himself--some manner for which He cannot use any other organ--what need have you to quail before any person, no matter how important?
22. However humble your place in life, however unknown to the world you may be, however small your capabilities may seem at present to you, you are just as much a necessity to God in His efforts to get Himself into visibility as is the most brilliant intellect, the most thoroughly cultured person in the world. Remember this always, and act from the highest within you.