Psyche and Spirit
by Paul Werner
7. Personal Identity
Spiritual Influence and our Identity
The search for identity and profundity seems to characterize quite well this era in history. People are driven to relieve the anxiety that stems from not knowing their purpose in life. Many determine to further their intellectual capacity as the way to get ahead. Attention and care is given to the psyche, but identifying the spirit and charting its course and pattern of growth, is quite a different thing. We are almost at a loss where to begin.
People tend to primp and preen in front of the mirror, "identifying" themselves in certain ways. For instance, a man might consider himself well-educated, intelligent, and a great dresser. Perhaps a woman sees herself as beautiful, charming, and "together." What the mind perceives is one thing and certainly something to consider, but how should man identify or characterize his spirit? Far too many of us consider our physical identity supreme, but disregard our spiritual identity and integrity. For the sake of our mental and spiritual health, however, we must change this trend.
How should one achieve his true personal identity? By what standard should we judge that identity? To most people, it will take fostering a sense of personal integrity. The religious man further needs the desire and, in fact, the ability to quietly listen for God's voice and then carry out His direction. Through developing a proper attitude and living a life of attendance to God, man is able to nurture such qualities. It means, though, he must come to know himself as a child of God, with the sense of dignity and self-worth that entails.
Each of us should do everything possible to ensure that we have and reflect spiritual beauty. Ten years from now our disposition will be entirely different. Our whole life may have even changed -- in circumstance, environment, and experience. But to solve our psychological ills and promote our spiritual growth through the upcoming years, each of us should determine to become the best possible manifestation of God. We can be an example of tangible faith in our personal habits. These elements, if we allow them, can be mutually beneficial to both our psyche and spirit. When we do good things, we naturally tend to feel good about ourselves. And our self-confidence then will shine through our words and actions. Based on our appearance and disposition, others can tell whether or not we respect ourselves.
God is attracted by purity and cleanliness; if our standard in these aspects declines, it may be hard for God to remain close to us. But if we love ourselves and practice even these most essential aspects of good behavior, we will find it easier to give out to others, an attitude which will definitely promote spiritual growth. Knowing and accepting this is one thing; doing something about it is quite another. We will be able to face and tackle both our problems and challenges when we keep a sense of dignity.
Our psyche should daily reaffirm the value of our moral and ethical character, as well as our abilities and talents. And our spiritual character should remind us of our identity with God. Yet we need not strictly rely upon our own resources to do this. We can enlist the aid of the spirit world, particularly engaging the help of our ancestors. The more they encourage us in strengthening our personal identity, the more they can ultimately benefit.
No matter what his station in life, every human being harbors impurity; it is a legacy from the Fall. What we may not realize is how saddened God is when we focus primarily on our iniquities, constantly feeling shame and unworthiness. On the other hand, we must not ignore the fact that we still sin against God. No matter how we feel about ourselves, God still finds value in us; His viewpoint of us is different from our own, and from the people around us. Shouldn't we do whatever necessary to set ourselves along the right course of spiritual growth? And shouldn't we aim to adopt His way of thinking, rather than clinging to our own? Wouldn't it be best if we would encourage others to do the same, and then afford them tolerance as they go about doing just that?
When we generate unity between our minds and bodies -- our psyches and spirits -- we will experience inner peace and a greater sense of cohesion. Those who don't are forced to overcompensate in some way, and consequently suffer certain other personal problems. It may be difficult for them to cultivate self-respect or to honor others, for to build up self-esteem we must learn to see ourselves through the eyes of God, overcoming those obstacles that contribute to any feeling of worthlessness or futility. God definitely sees us as His children, and recognizes our individual and unique potential. We then must fight against those things Satan and evil spirits "divulge" about us which make us question and doubt our worth.
It is up to us to actively improve ourselves physically and spiritually by gaining new skills and nurturing old ones, by finding new ways to enhance our personality and appearance, but especially by regarding ourselves as valuable. We must be answerable to these points, verifying whether or not we hold ourselves in respect. This is a prerequisite to loving ourselves, and moreover, an important first step in loving others. If people feel that we don't respect ourselves, they won't be as drawn to interact with us, for they will not trust that we will respect them. By the same token, if we are haughty or prideful about our talents and abilities, people will not be attracted to us either, perhaps feeling that we view them as inadequate and inferior. Saint and sinner: fallen man has divine potential, but has been raised in sin.
We must learn to be honest about ourselves. The best way is by re-evaluating our position with God daily. We should also take an objective look at our own disposition, analyzing what we have been able to achieve, and noting those things we may have failed to do or did wrong. We should avoid the temptation to compare our progress with the rate of growth we notice in others. This is not to say that we shouldn't respect our brother for his achievements, but God wants us -- and needs us -- to respect our own development. When we allow ourselves to become depressed by how good the circumstances of another look in comparison to our own, we might do something foolish, something which could damage our own self-worth. We could, at the same time, unknowingly jeopardize our relationships with others. But what does it profit a man to see himself in that light? If he takes that stance, he might begin to identify himself as a loser. In such a case it is possible that his self-esteem would plummet; through his self-projection he would also impinge upon the lives of his mate, children, parents, employer, co-workers, and friends. They may see his struggles and feel powerless to do anything constructive to help. Based on such negative self-appraisal, any person's behavior would be affected; thus, his negativity could adversely influence the lives of others. His negative thinking could rub off on others, and try as they might to stop the vicious circle, it could grow concentrically, absorbing more and more people as it does.
When we realize we made a certain mistake our self-esteem might suffer a bit, but all the same, the situation need not totally devastate us. If we do things that we know please God, we will automatically strengthen our position as His child, and our self-respect will naturally be bolstered.
We build a healthy spiritual self-image through accomplishing things. We all long to reach our potential-physically and spiritually. We have need to become the best we can be -- as a spouse, as a parent, as a professional. Accomplishment will nurture our psyche -- our ego-but we will remain unsatisfied if we stop there. What too many people have either been ignorant of or deliberately ignored is that our spirit also needs nurturing and fulfillment; since our spirit needs a physical body to grow, we must focus on doing this during our physical lifetime.
Many people have problems with insecurity. They look into the mirror and are uninspired. They can almost "recognize" their sins, and enumerate each discrepancy in their character. Many feel overwhelmed by them, and as a result tend to withdraw from relationships, or in some way resign from life. But a person who is internally free enough could develop the willpower to overcome and rise above those points that have stifled his self-esteem. What he may not realize is how much the actions of his ancestors or other spirits working through him are affecting him; that he contends not just with himself, but is in some way affected by the mistakes made by his original ancestors, and how they continue to influence him. To develop and consciously raise his self-esteem, he then must pierce through a great deal more than his own tough "skin."
A person who comes to realize this must do something in a positive direction. For example, he might start to cultivate self-esteem by adding together all his accomplishments-from the inconsequential to the substantial. Perhaps then he could recognize that every time he mastered some point within himself, he became stronger, and that he became weaker when he tended to shy away from responsibility or procrastinated. Such action -- or inaction as the case may bean definitely stem from spiritual influence.
Spirit persons who were apathetic when living on the earth can, at times, surely find within us the same attitude, for this is a base which they can use. They might be either so desperate to grow, or desire so strongly the chance to live through another that they interfere, assuming our personal identity and making it their own. This can create quite a dilemma for us. If they succeed in completely dominating us, we will no longer be able to assert our own will or control our own destiny. They may be comfortable to stagnate in their spiritual growth, but if they do this, we will no doubt find it hard to accomplish the tasks we set out to do, and our self-esteem will naturally suffer.
It takes courage to come to grips with a psychological problem that badgers us. The easiest way to transcend our "self"-made problems and become public-minded is to activate our spirit, for it is the spirit which gives the impetus to change. The other alternative we have is to remain imprisoned in our own small world.
Consistently putting "me" first can only diminish us spiritually. Even though our own problems feel overwhelming, they will seem less consuming when we turn to meet someone's needs. As we make some effort to liberate a person's heart, our own can become freed in the process.
Armed with the truth about why psychological problems plague mankind, we will be able to gain a proper perspective about our own, and at the same time realize more of our opportunities to restore ourselves to our original position as a true child of God. All too often it is the trivial things of life that monopolize our attention -- our standard of living, how we look, and how we can get ahead. When we become too wrapped up in these concerns our ego might also suffer. At the same time, if we become depressed, our spirit might then take an unnecessary beating.
If we feel overly sensitive about something someone did or said, the best thing we can do is work on building up our self-confidence, and cultivate an ability to absorb slights. Over-reacting is not helpful for spiritual stability; if our temper gains control, a spirit who was also self-centered and temperamental during his earthly life, could assume command of us. If we constantly make ourselves the focal point of our lives, we cannot help but become more critical-easily offended and complaining. If we could develop a public-minded attitude, we would naturally become more loving, and would view others with compassion and empathy.
We may say that we suffer. We may even complain about the fact that we suffer. While it is true that our suffering is not exclusively of our own making, it is in large part due to what we personally must transcend in perfecting our love, and as a result of having to rectify our ancestors' mistakes. In serving a suffering God and suffering humanity, it is inevitable that we will feel pain. Yet many times what we call "suffering" is simply the inability to rise above our own self-centeredness.
Because we feel we have not received enough love in the past, we might quite automatically -- though probably subconsciously withhold love from others. Anyone who demands attention and love will tend to be superficial in his relationships, even if he is popular. Superficiality originates in selfishness. Selfishness can be caused by many things -- fear, insecurity, and inferiority or superiority complexes. Nonetheless, the underlying cause of selfishness is the desire to be loved. We try to project that need by pleading with our eyes, and silently crying out for recognition through facial expressions or gestures. But doing this could be subconscious; we cannot buttonhole a person and in so many words, simply demand he love us. Sometimes the need for love becomes too great, yet that is the time we should realize that we are feeling the pain others have felt throughout the ages. Since the Fall, man has never stopped longing for the perfect love of God. This is partially so because he does not yet identify himself as being close to, and indeed a part of God, and more fully so because he has not received it.
When a person is self-centered, he is usually quite unmotivated to focus on a higher goal, and instead more stimulated to do something for himself. Through his attitude, then, he might draw around himself spirits which are also self-centered; his thinking may tend to be extremely small-minded, which will render him incapable of generating much spiritual power, or unable to step out of his narrow mold. Spirit persons of a higher status are attracted to cooperate with those who have broader concerns than self. A person who draws self-centered spirits to himself, though, will find they do little but help him become even more self-serving.
The question then arises as to how one can generate the will to change his viewpoint and become more publicly oriented. Most people are concerned mainly with the world they have fashioned for themselves. Even most religious people concentrate on developing their own relationship to God, and to ensure they are "saved." The spiritual growth of such self-centered individuals is inhibited by their own concepts and narrow thinking. Some people limit themselves to living for their own purpose, but if they could find and adopt a different motivation, spiritual law would dictate that a multitude of good spirits assist them.
We often choose finding satisfaction-even personal spiritual satisfaction-over helping others. But that is how we get stuck in the muck and mire of self again. And then we don't stand a chance of rooting out the ills affecting our psyche or our spirit. If we could see and accept at our real purpose on earth is to serve others and ultimately the world, our attitude would be powerful enough to attract good spirits who understand that same principle, and who then would willingly cooperate with us.
Even if we want to be more public-minded than self-centered, it is assuredly a challenge. Although we love God and others, even if we are not conscious of it, we are also still loyal to Satan. According to the principles of resurrection, fallen man's task is to restore himself from spiritual death to spiritual life, but it is something we cannot do alone by the strength of our own power. We must find God's representative and follow his directives. To restore our position we have to bridge the gap which exists between ourselves and God. We will need to use all our faculties, and employ both our psyche and our spirit.
We should first envision ourselves with God and believe we will reach that goal. If we primarily view ourselves as sinners, Satan has the condition by which he can retain his hold on us. Yet if we cannot recognize Satan, or if we ignore his ability to influence us, we also stand to lose a great deal of spiritual ground, thus restoration salvation will take that much longer. There is no panacea; it is not simply a matter of growth. Trials and difficulties encumber man's way back to God. Despite the obstacles, we must not lose sight of the vision: our true identity as a child of God. According to Unification teaching, human beings are ultimately to fill the role of a true parent. This is God's highest goal. He has worked tirelessly to restore man to this position, and if we are serious about aligning ourselves with His will, we should seek to identify ourselves according to His ideal rather than our own.
Spiritual Influence and our Identity
Multiple Personalities and Identity
A person who is greatly influenced by spirit persons may subconsciously "assume" their character traits, behavioral patterns, and the like, or even allow them to adopt his. Science may not know what to make of the phenomenon of multiple personalities, but through understanding the Principle, this can be reckoned as the influence of multiple spiritual personalities, who gain command of a person.
Studies done on multiple personalities indicate that different -- often even opposite -- characters literally fight for control of the body, and sometimes one or more may emerge -- even within a matter of seconds subside, then come forth again at a later time. The person influenced by the behavior and desires of these spiritual beings may not know what to do, and although they struggle for control even within him, he is actually quite unaware of it. Through therapy the person might be successful in shutting out all the other personalities; once they can no longer "manifest," he is able to be himself again. However in some cases, one of the spirits so totally possesses the person, he ends up relinquishing his personal identity in favor of the spirit's nature.
While the curiosity of the split -- or multiple personality is an extreme case of spiritual possession, spiritual influence can, to a lesser degree, "overtake" a person, quite often without his knowledge. Sometimes an individual begins to speak or act differently; others may notice the change, but the person himself remains oblivious to what is happening to and within him; he is ignorant of the relentless pressure exerted by the spirit. If we allow a spirit person to dominate us so completely, however, we thwart our own human potential, for by "being" someone else, we can never become that unique individual God envisions us to be. As well, the spiritual being, who should cooperate rather than control, will not grow. According to spiritual law, a spirit person can grow toward perfection only on the basis of assisting a physical being. While spirits of evil intent may grow in power and influence by dominating a physical being, they do nothing to grow toward God, and in fact can definitely deter a person's spiritual maturity.
Advertisers psychologically manipulate the public to buy their products by using celebrities to endorse them. The product is then "identified" with that famous person, and those who want to become like him will tend to buy it. If we are serious about working toward the goal of reaching our individual God-given potential, we may have to fight the tendency to want to act like someone else.
We should not allow ourselves to be manipulated, either by physical influences or spiritual beings, for we will never be fully satisfied merely copying the physical demeanor and habits of someone else. It is psychologically damaging for us to submit ourselves to spiritual influence in such a way. This precludes any danger there might be in "employing" a higher standard of love, a better frame of mind, a more pleasant disposition, a more positive outlook-all of which we can learn from another; these surely might be considered tools and elements which can draw out our own human potential, and help us become our best selves.
Man's Identity Crisis
It is important that we realize the power of the imagination. We become, and we in some way are, who we believe we are. If we feed our spirit with negativity, complaint and bitterness, then our self-image will mirror this disposition. Yet our attitude toward others and the opinions we form about them are important components of our imagination. If we think of ourselves or someone else as a "nobody;" we should consider what we are saying about God, for there is some unique part of God within each human being.
If we constantly reinforce the conviction that we are sinners and far from God, how can He feel comfortable to live with us? Such an attitude amounts to rejecting Him. It is just as possible to create and nurture a positive attitude that invites God to enter and stay in our lives, even though doing this takes great determination and the willingness to fight.
This has been a problem for religious people throughout history. Religious history is filled with stories of people who wept and gnashed their teeth, lamenting their sinful nature. But none of them discerned that by adopting such an "identity," they might have given Satan and other spirits with a similar "identity crisis" a handle with which to dominate them. We should recognize that we sin, and then try to overcome that tendency, rather than considering ourselves first and foremost as sinners and constantly tormenting ourselves because of it. This is how we can invite God and good spirits to participate and cooperate in our lives.
Yes, we need to perceive our mistakes, and humbly repenting before God is essential to spiritual growth. We must remember, though, that we become what we think and act, and spirit persons who find a base within us will definitely reinforce our identity, whether conceived in self-doubt or self-esteem. To reiterate, it is spiritually much more healthy to see ourselves as children of God. If we could believe that with certainty, we would attract spirits with the same hope. We would also grow more quickly, and ultimately fulfill our goals.
Others will not believe us if our words and actions differ, and might consider us a hypocrite. Unless we learn to be true to ourselves, we may find we are false to others. This is summed up in the crisis which could be referred to as "personal identity." Our psyche-our ego-may be totally consumed by a particular image that we have of ourselves. Although we may be focused on trying to please our contemporaries, our spirit may long to please God. If we are to assume our true identity, we should guard against becoming obsessed by fulfilling the needs of one, yet neglecting the other. The psyche and spirit must cooperate in this way. We should reflect what our inner resources reveal about ourselves-listening to all our needs, and visualizing our dreams.
Gaining Inner Freedom
So many people go through life like walking corpses. So spiritually dead. So artificial. They find fault with everything, and nothing seems to please or satisfy them. With their perfectionist attitude, they may turn away from others, but inside ache to embrace and especially be embraced. They may have such a deep longing to find beauty in this world, yet turn a deaf ear to what others have to say about where it can be found.
The healing of the human heart as well as the comforting of the heart of God has to take place. God, too, is aching to be God. His true nature has been masked throughout human history. He is longing to assume His own personal identity: as our loving Parent-who has not been in bliss, but rather in agony.
On the other hand, Satan should be forced to reveal his true colors: how he has been belligerently battling God, how he has held man hostage, and how he has deliberately kept the true nature of his crimes against God and man hidden. Because we have thus far "identified" ourselves with Satan-by following his dictates and doing little to prevent his influence in our lives-we must now stop this trend and start to personally identify ourselves in another way. Satan uses inferiority complexes as leverage, and we must therefore work to free ourselves of negative beliefs concerning our worth. The bottom line is that we must emulate God's identity rather than Satan's.
Everybody wants to be free. Freedom foundations have been set up. Songs are written about freedom. Books and movies commonly reflect this theme. In fact, all kinds of people think they are free, but from God's point of view, none of us are truly emancipated. According to the Principle, true freedom can only be achieved upon fulfilling the law of God. People think that freedom is doing exactly what they like. Yet we must be "free" enough to experience the divine love of God. We can successfully do this if we identify ourselves with our God-given potential: to become perfected human beings. If we are unable to perceive the love of God and also return love to Him, we should recognize that we are in spiritual trouble. How can we become one with Him when we are still inextricably tied to Satan and spiritually imprisoned? We may see the ideal, but if we cannot transcend a negative frame of mind about what we can and should do to reach it, we stay as constricted as the knights who fought their battles in heavy armor. The difference is that ours is made of "spiritual" steel.
The further a person goes away from God, the more coarse and rough a person becomes, the more he might tend to mask his emotions with harsh and unloving words and actions. But to sometimes speak what we feel brings tremendous relief and freedom. Developing into a free personality, though, is a process which takes time and patience. Such a free person does not care what other people think of him, but is primarily concerned about what he can do for God and humanity, and therefore what God, rather than man, feels about him.
Our goal is to attain our personal identity as a child of God who grows, and indeed perfects himself as a true parent, according to the will of God. Such a free person can have tremendous impact upon the family of man!
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