Most people are either unaware that character plays an important part in the process of Self-realization – or they’re afraid to approach the issue when they begin their journey because they sense that they have character flaws that they might not be able to overcome. This is unfortunate because, while it’s true that many people don’t have the character they need to achieve their spiritual goals when they begin the process of Self-realization, it’s also true that character develops quickly once a person commits themselves to the process.
When it comes to character, however, there’s one other issue that must be addressed. Although the virtues we associate with good character appear to be separate, the fact is that they are all related because they all emerge from the same source, the authentic mind of a human being and the subtle field of consciousness and energy that supports it. That means you already have good character. All you have to do is enhance the conditions necessary for it to emerge into your conscious awareness.
Enhancing Good Character
By centering yourself in your authentic mind, enhancing the flow of life-affirming consciousness and energy through your subtle field and making the commitment to transcendence, you will quickly enhance your character in the areas where it has been traditionally weak.
Unfortunately, many people have been taught that ‘suffering builds character.’ Fortunately, the truth is quite different. You only suffer when your commitment to self-limiting attachments and restrictive beliefs supersede your commitment to your Self and the process of Self-realization.
When you insist on being selfish, narcissistic or manipulative; when you hold on to restrictive beliefs and put inauthentic desires, that emerge from your individual mind and ego, above you’re your dharma and the appropriate activities that support it, you will suffer because your access to life-affirming energy and consciousness will be blocked. That in turn will prevent the qualities of good character from emerging into your conscious awareness.
The Essentials of Good Character
The essential elements of good character are discipline, courage, perseverance, patience, loyalty, long-suffering, integrity and non-harming.
Discipline is the ability to stay centered in your subtle field – and to be your ‘Self,’ no matter how stressful your internal and-or external environment has become. Discipline will emerge spontaneously if you enjoy the pleasure that emerges, through your subtle field, whenever you engage in activities that are appropriate and support your dharma.
Courage is the willingness to defend your subtle field, even when you experience internal opposition from your karmic baggage and-or external opposition from your family, friends and the institutions of society.
You will persevere and have patience once you’re committed to the process of Self-realization and you give yourself permission to share pleasure, love, intimacy and joy with the people you love no matter how stressful your internal and-or external environment has become.
Loyalty will emerge once you’ve developed enough discernment to recognize which of your activities and relationships are appropriate. It will become permanent once you’ve committed yourself to defending them – even when confronted by the judgement of other people, external projections and-or the doubts that emerge from your individual mind and ego.
Long-suffering is the ability to persevere in a course of action that is appropriate – even when you must pay a price in personal well-being and-or success. But to develop long-suffering, you must be able to remain detached from the source of suffering long enough to overcome whatever obstacles you face. That degree of detachment can only emerge once you’ve learned to discern the difference between fields of energy and consciousness that have universal qualities and those that do not.
Having integrity is simply being your Self, trusting your Self and defending your Self – and your intimate relationships at all times and in all situations, no matter how difficult. It demands that you share life-affirming energy in the form of pleasure, love, intimacy and joy with your loved ones through transcendent relationship in both good times and bad.
Non-harming means letting go of blame and the will, desire and-or intent to harm to another person in thought, word or deed, on any dimension of the physical and non-physical universe.
You can harm another person by attacking their reputation, through physical violence or through projections of consciousness and energy with individual qualities.
It’s important to note that non-harming means more than ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!’ It means saying No to the restrictive beliefs that compel you to seek vengeance or to ‘get even’ with people who’ve harmed you or the people you love.
The issue of character should not frighten you. The truth is that you will develop all the character you need if you remain centered in your authentic mind and committed to your individual process of Self-realization.
A Postscript to Good Character
There are two additional issues closely related to good character that are often overlooked; the first is expecting continuity in your life and relationships; the second is flexibility.
Expect the Unexpected. In one of Talking Heads iconic songs, ‘Once in a Lifetime,’ David Lynch crooned, ‘You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife; you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?’ Like David Lynch, many of you may have wondered why your life has taken an unexpected twist or turn. An answer to this question can be elusive; that is why expecting the unexpected is always a good idea.
Expecting the unexpected and preparing for it by enhancing your flexibility were essential elements of the teaching of a 19th century spiritual master, philosopher and mystic named Georges Ivanovič Gurdjieff.
His discipline, known as the “Fourth Way,” was a blend of Sufism, monasticism and yoga. The influence of the Fourth Way continues to be felt throughout the Middle East, Europe and North America.
Be Flexible or Suffer the Consequences
Ongoing research indicates that a lack of flexibility is associated with three things: assumptions, judgements and a deeply embedded sense of right and wrong, all of which are based on information that is either flawed or incomplete. As many of people have learned through the school of hard knocks – think Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump and Pharaoh Rameses II – assumptions are the mother of all f**k-ups. To avoid the dangers of misplaced assumptions, bad judgement and an inflexible sense of right and wrong, it’s best to substitute knowledge for belief. You can do that by observing an event or phenomena through the lens of your intuition and discernment until insight provides you with knowledge; after that it’s a simple process of adapting to the situation. By adopting this formula, you will become flexible and won’t have to wonder, ‘How did I get here?’