First, let us come to a deeper understanding about personality. . . .
It has been said elsewhere in this wisdom journal that personality is the flavoring of ego. We have also said personality is the expression of ego. So, this would seem to mean that unless we express our ego we have no personality, and that apparently by denying our personality (that is, by not feeding into it) we dissolve our ego (we loosen the grip of ego on our mind).
Personality is unique to each individual. Many people say that personality is ‘who you are.’ They would say that when you ‘change’, it is your personality that changes. There is only a subtle distinction between one’s ego and one’s personality. Ego is always there, but it is apparent only when it is expressed through our personality. Ego does not really change, it is only its expression (in the form of personality) that changes.
Our personality is an outgrowth of our psychological state of mind. In other words, it is our ego decorated (or embellished) with mental make-up. The mental make-up (or cosmetic) is a blend of the five mental phenomena: (1) PRAMAAN: the Inquiry into, and understanding of, Truth; (2) VIPARAYA: misunderstanding, incorrect or false knowledge, the state of ‘not knowing that we do not know’; (3) VIKALPA: imagination, day-dreaming, and verbal delusion wherein our thoughts clothed in language do not correspond to reality (to what is really happening, happened, or could happen); (4) NIDRA: the sleep-state of mind, including both the dream and dreamless states of sleep; (5) SMRITI: memories.
Our mental make-up, or mascara, is the result of the working of the cycle of KARMA: action, impression, tendency, thought/attitude, and again action. In other words, the mental phenomena described above are the natural by-product of KARMA (action and its associated effects).
It is only when the mascara is applied to the ego that personality takes shape (otherwise, personality remains only a potentiality). Only when we are embodied as a human being is this mental make-up applied to the ego. In other words, animals do not have personalities (even though some people imaginatively assign personalities to their pets or other animals). Of course, animals do have various psychological make-ups, but they do NOT have personalities. Only a ‘person’ has a personality, and animals are NOT persons. The ego of an animal is dormant; it is not active. Its psychological state is the result of its actions (in this, and previous, lives), but this psychological state is not associated with its ego (which remains dormant during the non-human stage of existence).
Some persons may argue that there is no reason an animal, such as a dog, would not have a personality, because dogs obviously have a psychological component to their nature, and have the sense of self-identity (i.e., experience themselves as separate from other beings). However, even if we accept that a dog’s mental make-up could be applied to their sense of self-identity (ego), the resulting ‘expression’ or manifestation would not be substantial enough to really call it ‘personality’. This is because most of the elements of the mental make-up are missing: namely, PRAMAAN, VIPARAYA, and VIKALPA. Hence, it is fair to conclude that only human beings are ‘persons’, and the qualifying characteristic of a person is that element which we call PERSONALITY.
Everyone’s personality is unique. Some people’s personality is very selfish, like the personality of a criminal. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those few people whose personality is totally unselfish, such as the personality of a saint or sage.
One’s personality is a hindrance (causing pain to one’s self and others) when it is individualistic, and it is a joy when it is universal. Our personality becomes universal only when we make our mind universal by opening it up with the wisdom of consciousness. The wisdom of consciousness removes ego from the mind, and this makes the mind universal.
The process is like this: