Monday, March 23, 2015


Reader question:

I'm currently reading "The Reality of Being" and I was wondering what Madame de Salzmann was implying in chapter 4:

Real “I” comes from essence. Its development depends on the wish of essence—a wish to be and then a wish to become able to be. Essence is formed from impressions that are assimilated in early childhood, usually up to the age of five or six when a fissure appears between essence and personality.

Is it that we are born without essence, since it "is formed..."? And what, in that case, & in your opinion, is the difference between essence and personality? –for I see none, both being formed by assimilating outside impressions after birth. 

Or it could be that I don't very well understand what "to be formed" means in this instance?


Well, I think that what she says here in the book is misleading.  It may be because it was taken out of context and she failed to explain it thoroughly.  Or maybe she just had it wrong.

 I am reminded of a good friend of mine who knew her very well indeed, and has protested to me on  more than one occasion that the book sounds nothing like what she sounded like when she spoke in person. I have seen several spots in this book with statements that are either inaccurate or untrue; and that will have to be typical of anyone, since everyone's work and insight is always developing, and never complete. There is a great danger in taking what people say verbatim as being correct; and in assuming that teachers are unerring.

Let's examine this question a little more detail. Take, for example, the following statement:

Essence in man is what is his own. Personality in man is what is 'not his own.' 'Not his own' means what has come from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory and in the sensations, all words and movements that have been learned, all feelings created by imitation—all this is 'not his own,' all this is personality.
— In Search of the Miraculous, P. D. Ouspensky, pub. Paul H. Crompton Ltd, 2004, p 168

 Right away, in this statement, we see that essence begins from insidenot  from outside — and that, in fact, we are born with it, as this quotation amply demonstrates:

Essence is purely emotional.  It consists of what is received from heredity before the formation of personality, and later, only those sensations and feelings among which a man lives.  What comes after merely depends on the transition.
— Views From the Real World,  Paris, August 22

 Of course it develops, because it comes into contact with the outside world, which helps it grow. It is like a seed; where the personality is a graft onto that plant which grows from the seed. The distinction is quite apt and this is an accurate description of it.

Furthermore, let us consider the following:

Astrology deals with only one part of man, with his type, his essence—it does not deal with personality, with acquired qualities. If you understand this you understand what is of value in astrology.
—ibid (ISOTM), p 373.

 Type and astrology are characteristics governed by a human being's birth, not by things he acquires — and the quote clearly delineates the difference.

 Here's another little tidbit.

Essence is the truth in man; personality is the false. But in proportion as personality grows, essence manifests itself more and more rarely and more and more feebly and it very often happens that essence stops in its growth at a very early age and grows no further. It happens very often that the essence of a grown-up man, even that of a veryintellectual and, in the accepted meaning of the word, highly 'educated' man, stops on the level of a child of five or six. 

—ibid (ISOTM), p 169.

It's quite likely that when de Salzmann made the comment you cite, what was in the back of her mind was the above quote.

Many other things could be said about essence; but I think the innermost kernel of it is that essence is what we are; we are born with it, but we forget it as we grow up. It becomes, as Gurdjieff told his pupils in Views From the Real World, covered in a thick crust. Readers who are truly interested in the subject should look through Views, since it has a great deal of information on the subject.

 There is a close connection — a very, very close one — between Meister Eckhart's concept of the soul, and Swedenborg's divine inflow. Pondering this inwardly may bear important fruit.

Our experience of essence — of our innermost being — should become alive, and we should experience both of the soul and the divine inflow through it. I say should, because really there is no other way for this to happen, except through essence. It is, after all, of the emotional center — and the center works at the fastest speed, the highest rate of vibration, and thus comes closest to touching heaven. It alone of all centers has the capacity to form a thread, a connection, to the level above us. That thread transmits energy in the form of sensation, of course, but sensation is the beginning of feeling — a complex subject we do not have time to examine today.



  1. Thank you. Good to see you saying things that would be frowned on in some places :)
    I am writing something related to this question and would appreciate your comments. Do you understand essence as distinct from soul?
    And did G. get it wrong or was he just being polemical when he claimed that man is not born with a 'soul' and that it cannot be formed before man's maturity (LIROTWIA, p.170)?

  2. I just rememember Mme S emphasising with a movement of her hand and outstretched arm, drawing her handback down toward her head, that we were responsible for bringing an energy into the world..altho she never bothered to mention Trogoautoegocrat... :)
    that's for dummies
    This was in her 90's......


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