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The bulk of my personality is made up of other people's beliefs about what is lacking. These core beliefs rise up like bubbles and when the attention is placed on them, they burst into a rather coarse type of emptiness. For decades and unbeknownst to me, I have laboured over this negative self-talk which takes on various permutations of not being enough. As I investigate further, it's clear where they came from: implicit messages from society, that no matter what you can do or what you have in material possessions, it is never enough. It's like a sinister melody playing in the background of human consciousness. It is a collective and implicit agreement stationed just beyond the boundaries of normal, every day awareness and generates a perpetual attitude of always becoming yet the suffering it causes goes unquestioned - no link is formed between the thoughts and the actions.

There is so much to write about concerning these observations, but it would hurt my head if I continued mainly because I see a barrel of worms inside those karmic propensities. If I look at one person, I see only the manifold accumulation of past actions which determines their current behaviour, but they see an exclusive and individualized entity making unique and specialized decisions. They seem rather clown-like in that respect - their personality lost to the conditions of their circumstances. Then I turn towards myself, and see the same things ticking away, and so I smile and kick up one of my clown shoes. What else is left for me to do. The negative self-talk has little footing these days, but it's what I built my identity with.

As humankind's defunct tutorial meanders off it takes with it those biological conditionings: eating food has the same neutrality as shoving a letter into a postbox and women's tits look like what they are: droopy skin with a pointy circle denoting some vague hint of conceptual sensuality.

This leaves me thinking curiously about what actually drives me, what is my personality? The Buddha had a personality, for sure.

In a sense I know the answer to this question, but I'd have to start writing a curious state of affairs because language seems to do it a disservice. Then, the karmic waves come rolling in, and I've lost all direction. They seem quite annoyed over in this region even throwing obscure items like the kitchen sink.

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Good Morning,

It sounds you are reaching through a bottleneck of defining your Dharma:)

While moving onto the next level of enlightenment we reassess how we defined ourselves previously to judge if we deem ourselves worthy of breaking through to the next level. Going over history like that flash before our eyes that humanity seems to associate with death/rebirth and weighing ourselves in action.

Defining ourselves would require 'dropping all the petals' of attachment back to the core of the individual structure, laying the skeleton bare. We are what we are, no One can define us better than ourselves.

When we come closer to what defines us, any historical attachment can influence a shift or impose limitations so, while we are breaking through the thoughts and motives of others are unnecessary. When we drop those attachments, the respite moves from gnawing emptiness to contentment of the self. Like the 'immovable' amongst the karmic waves.

The knowing comes when that 'position' stabilises.

Cultivate in harmony

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  • Good morning and thank you for your reply. I always enjoy reading your replies.
    – Max
    Jan 22 at 9:43
  • Thanks @NeuroMax, the feeling is mutual. Both your questions and answers hold insight not often found :D
    – Beau. D
    Jan 23 at 9:02
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The Buddha had a personality, for sure. His personality is who he was, moment to moment, but not the result of him desiring to become that personality.

But you are not a Buddha, and much of your life experiences has built upon the habit of creating a self-reinforcing personality. Those habits are part of who you are, moment to moment, the result of deep desires to become that personality.

You are now seeing your own personality and experiences with a different perspective, a partially complete dharmic perspective, and that too is naturally going to become part of your personality. The deep desires to have a personality will latch onto this new found perspective with excitement, but those deep desires for a personality aren't intelligent enough to realize that this perspective is set upon unravelling these very habits and what that even means.

If you are really curious and really want to know what your personality is, then you are free to ask yourself those questions. Your personality is something completely fluid that is modifiable by your own or others input. So ask yourself, what do you really want? And feel free to strive for that.

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  • "partially complete dharmic perspective" - this term has been a bit tricky with me mainly because the mind likes to reach some sort of finality, which amounts to more becomings. The consensus seems to imply that there is a place where one can 'feel complete' and my overall experience is guiding me towards some sort of completeness, but I haven't realized that, so it's hard for me to entertain. I guess there's much to be said about faith here.
    – Max
    Jan 22 at 9:52
  • @NeuroMax, "completed dharmic perspective" is not intended to mean "that there is a place where one can 'feel complete' ", it is intended to mean a thorough understanding of the workings of dhamma, natural laws of the universe, such that one can use that understanding to more deeply pierce through and/or shed the layers of defilements built up over time.
    – Ryan Baker
    Feb 15 at 18:14
  • I see. So when they say in the suttas "the job has been done. There is nothing more for this world", and various similar permutations thereof, they mean one has fully comprehended the dhamma?
    – Max
    Feb 15 at 19:28
  • It depends... dhamma has many meanings and is an can be used in many different ways to convey very different meanings. For what I said, focus on the word "perspective"; Mostly I mean the perspective you have towards your experiences in such a way that it incorporates the qualities of dhamma (three characteristics) towards whatever it is you are brining to mind. So partially complete means some part of a correct perspective is there, enough to incorporate the qualities of dhamma in a beneficial way.
    – Ryan Baker
    Feb 15 at 19:55
  • In the way you presented it there, that more-so means, the full realization of dhamma, having fully investigated the entire field of dhamma and ultimately realizing arahantship.
    – Ryan Baker
    Feb 15 at 19:57
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"Personality" ("attabhava"; individual character) is made up of nature (dhamma) & nurture (bhavana), namely:

  1. Genetic structure: the Realized One truly understands the world with its many and diverse elements (anekadhātunānādhātulokaṃ)... dispositions (ānādhimuttikataṃ).. and faculties (indriyaparopariyattaṃ)... MN 12

  2. Conditioning, mental development & training: Mendicants, I do not see a single thing that, when it is developed and cultivated (bhāvitaṃ bahulīkataṃ), is so very beneficial as the mind... I do not see a single thing that, when it’s not developed and cultivated, brings such suffering as the mind. (AN 1.28)

The suttas (AN 4.171; MN 114; avoid Sujato translations) say there are four ways to acquire personality, which includes due to the actions or influence of others, such as family, associates & society:

  1. There is acquisition of personality/individual character where one’s own intention is effective, not that of others. Atthi, bhikkhave, attabhāvapaṭilābho, yasmiṃ attabhāvapaṭilābhe attasañcetanā kamati, no parasañcetanā.

  2. There is acquisition of personality/individual character where the intention of others is effective, not one’s own. Atthi, bhikkhave, attabhāvapaṭilābho, yasmiṃ attabhāvapaṭilābhe parasañcetanā kamati, no attasañcetanā.

  3. There is acquisition of personality/individual character where both one’s own and others’ intentions are effective. Atthi, bhikkhave, attabhāvapaṭilābho, yasmiṃ attabhāvapaṭilābhe attasañcetanā ca kamati parasañcetanā ca.

  4. There is acquisition of personality/individual character where neither one’s own nor others’ intentions are effective. Atthi, bhikkhave, attabhāvapaṭilābho, yasmiṃ attabhāvapaṭilābhe nevattasañcetanā kamati, no parasañcetanā

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The ancient Greeks imagined the Fates as weavers, spinning out the yarn that makes the fabric of our lives. And it's a useful analogy: our experiential lives are like strands of yarn dragging behind us as we move forward. We have no control over that. We pick up experiences, and they are part of the fabric of our lives as it stretches behind us.

What we do have some control over is whether those strands are a tangled mess of knots and snags that pull on us from this direction or that, or whether they are smooth and ordered, gliding gracefully along with us. It's a painstaking process; the more we fight the snags and tangles, the tighter they become.

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