Essence comes down to Earth and there is formed for it a physical body out of substances derived from both parents. Out of these substances, which make separate and distinct
sets of the necessary materials for the formation of a body, some are selected from one parent and some from the other parent, the rest being discarded. The Essence is prior to
the body through which it makes contact with the world. In this respect the Work corrects our customary sense-based view that the parents make the child. They supply certain
materials which are made in them, and everything else is done. The only thing that can be said to be done by the parents is to bring the two sets of materials together. Then,
if there is an individual Essence seeking manifestation, a child results.
Now the death of several million beings, in the form of sperms, is involved in this first contact of Essence with the Earth. The presence of and the death of these vast quantities of living cells seems necessary for one of them to pass from the cosmos of cells to the cosmos of Man and so attain its goal by full development. We understand that the object of Essence in coming down to this Earth and seeking a body is to enable it to reach full development. But we are told that Essence can only grow to a certain limited extent under ordinary circumstances and that it requires a special food to develop any further. We may be sure that this special food will involve the death of something else. In this case it involves the death of Personality.
First there is Essence, which can only grow to a limited extent. Understand here that the body is not the Essence itself. The body becomes full grown of itself if provided with physical food. But this is not the case with the Essence, which needs psychological food. The history of the development of the Essence is not the history of the development of the body. A fully developed body does not mean a fully developed Essence. A savage may have the strength of three ordinary men and the mind of a child of two. That is the tragedy.
First, then, there is Essence and body only. Then Essence is active. Next there is formed gradually around Essence a covering called Personality and this surrounds the Essence. In the meantime the body continues to grow. As a rule a man does not reach any further stage. His body grows. His Essence remains undeveloped beyond a short growth, and Personality is formed. The man′s centre of gravity of consciousness shifts more and more into the outer covering called Personality that life is forming in him, chiefly by imitation. The man, as it were, passes outwards into what is not him. In this way the Personality becomes active and the Essence becomes passive.
Few having passed in this outward direction under the hypnotic action of life ever return. But a great deal is said in esoteric literature, as, for instance, in the Gospels, about turning. A man who lives and dies in this state, in which Personality is active and Essence passive, is incomplete, unfinished. Such a man is sometimes called a seed, an acorn, an ear of wheat, or sometimes an unfinished house. In a general sense he is called Man asleep. The food that Essence needs for its further development is the Personality that has been formed round it. But it depends on the understanding of the man whether the Essence will get this food. Mechanically this will not happen. He must begin to awaken before this is possible and for this he must get knowledge.
Through awakening he feels himself less and less through his Personality. In this sense Personality begins to die. Many ′I′s must die for the man to be born. So here we see some analogy. These ′I′s which form the population of the Personality have to be set in the right order - namely, the ′I′s that can awaken must be set over those that cannot. An evil ′I′, a negative ′I′, must die. That is, it must be relegated to the furthest away place and given no nourishment.
Psychologically, we are most what we nourish most: and we nourish most what we love most. If we love negative ′I′s most we nourish them most. By ceasing to love many ′I′s whose quality we see in the light of the Work, we cease to feed them with our force and they begin to shrink. But they will soon recover and begin to speak, if you give them your blood to drink. When we draw force, through non-identifying, from an ′I′, and if we understand why we are doing it, the force is taken from Personality in the direction of Essence. So we have to attack Personality in order to weaken it. All we learn in the Work has this for its object. Self-observation is to make Personality conscious to us, with all its ′I′s, its attitudes, buffers, pictures, roles, etc. If we do not work on Personality it will use all our force for itself and give nothing to Essence. Essence, which is really ourself, will be starved. If we do nothing with Personality we remain therefore seeds - unfinished houses - people asleep in ourselves - and as such, since we were created self-developing organisms, we are useless experiments, failures, whatever position we hold in the world.
The Essence has been connected with a body, the body has grown up. The Essence has grown a little and Personality has surrounded it. Everything is now ready for the work of self-development through the death of Personality. It is at this stage that self-development can begin. But as a rule nothing further takes place. Man lives and dies a seed-asleep, in a world of people asleep. But he does not guess that this is the actual case, although he may have heard it often.