We sat down for a chat with Eckhart one afternoon and asked him
some questions. In this issue, Eckhart reveals his thoughts on our
relationship with between our ego and personality.
What is our relationship with our personality after
awakening & does it change?
Strictly speaking, before awakening, to a large extent, you don’t have a
relationship with your personality; you are your personality. If you
can have a relationship with your personality – which is the ego, with
its way of reacting and thinking, and emotions – who is having a
relationship with the personality? What that means is you are
witnessing it. There is a witnessing consciousness there, and if there
is a witnessing consciousness, then you can have a relationship with
your personality. What that really means is, you can be there as a
witnessing presence when your ego is doing something silly. And you can
laugh at yourself, maybe in the moment, maybe afterwards.
you are totally in the grip of your personality, or your ego, then of
course there is no relationship because you have become it. You’re so
one with all your reactive patterns and all your conditioned thinking,
that you don’t even know that there’s anything else in you. You are it.
you awaken spiritually, the awareness that is nothing to do with your
personality increases, and the power of the personality, with its
conditioned patterns, decreases. Gradually, the personality is no
longer opaque; it is transparent to the light of awareness, or
consciousness. It loses its solidity. This is why you find that in
people who are awake, or people who are awakening, there is more of a
lightness to them. If there’s only personality, then there’s heaviness,
a psychic heaviness in you. Everything is dreadfully serious, and [you
are] defensive, always wanting something, or defending yourself against
When you’re relating to somebody in whom there is no
awareness, then you always get a slightly uncomfortable feeling, because
that person is completely ill-at-ease. Ultimately, all personalities
are ill-at-ease. They may pretend that they are very confident, but
underneath the role of ‘confidence’, there’s always a person who feels
ill-at-ease. They need to prove something, or they want something from
you. That’s the personality. As you awaken, that part become a little
less opaque and it becomes lighter. There’s more of an awareness that
shines through the person.
Ego is complete identification with
your thinking and your emotions. When you are unconscious, personality
and ego are one thing. As you awaken, you become more aware of your
patterns, which may to some extent still operate. I’m choosing to
define personality as something that you can be aware of. It was the
ego before, but you can be aware of it as patterns that still operate
within you. If there is no awareness, and you are it, then it’s totally
ego. As you become aware of your ego, the ego becomes the personality,
and then you can have a relationship with your personality in the sense
that you can be the witness.
If you have a difficult
relationship with your personality, that’s a delusion. Then your
personality has split itself into two, one part is having a relationship
with another, and one part says “You should be better, why can’t you be
more conscious?” That means there is no witnessing presence there.
One part of the personality is arguing with another. The witnessing
consciousness doesn’t judge. You don’t judge yourself in any way, you
just see behavior. There’s no good or bad, it just is. The need to be
right, for example, is a very common thing with the ego. If it’s a
deep-seated need, then you can’t be wrong in an argument. There’s a
compulsion to defend yourself. Then suddenly you can see it in
yourself. Ultimately, having a relationship with your personality
implies that there is a witnessing presence.