Sam vah prchyantam tanvah sam manamsi samuvrrata Sam vonyam brahmanaspatirbhargah sam vo ajigamat.
- Atharvaveda: 6/74/1
"May your body, mind (thought), dharma (character) and action (conduct) be in synergy. May God, the Lord of knowledge, harmonize you, and the Lord of splendour integrate you."
Understanding the different dimensions of personality and a proper synthesis between them provides energy for jivana sadhana. It is absolutely essential for such a sadhaka
to become fully familiar with his own personality and know which are the aspects, that express his inner consciousness. ‘Personality’ is a widely used term. It is used in different meanings and connotations in psychology. Psychologists have written much about it. But still most of the people remain ignorant of the essence or real meaning of the term. The depths of personality yet remain unfathomed.
In the beginning, the psychologists may have understood the word ‘personality’ simply as a derivative of the Latin ‘persona’, meaning a mask or facade or outer covering. But now it is commonly accepted that the real reasons behind human behavior remain hidden in the depths of his interior. If we are to reach at the root of a man’s conduct, we will have to dig through the layers of his character and mind. Without properly knowing these entities an objective explanation of his conduct will be impossible.
A meaningful definition of personality may be given as the aggregate of a person’s characteristic features and qualities. These features and qualities are manifested in his external conduct but their origins go far deeper and remain hidden in his thoughts and samskars (persistent mental impressions). This is also spoken of by the rishis – "yanmanasa dhyayati tadvacha vadati; yadvacha vadati, tatkarmaña karoti; yat karmaña karoti, tadbhisampadyate". Meaning: As a man thinks in his mind, so is his speech; as he speaks, so does he conduct himself; as is his conduct, so does he become.
Thought, character and conduct - these form the three-dimensional identity of personality. Between these three, the first dimension is of thought. It consists of that which we think and keeps cropping up and circulating in our ideas and imaginations. The continuity and intensity of this thought shapes our character. The process of this character building is very gradual, because the underlying basis of character is the samskars or innate dispositions which lie dormant in the depths of the unconscious mind. As long as the intensity of thought does not reach the stage where it can refine the samskars, the character remains totally unaffected. This very composite of thought and character is reflected in the conduct. So, if the personality is to be refined and developed to its fullest potential, and along the right path, it would be imperative to mould its three-dimensional nature afresh.
There is an instructive anecdote about moulding the personality in this way. In South India there was a very learned and tapasvi sage, Sadashiva Brahmendra Swami. Those days he was studying vedanta in his guru’s ashrama. His whole time was spent in study, contemplation and tapa. Once a renowned scholar, Pandit Mahashaya, visited the ashrama. It so happened that soon he and Sadashiva Swami were locked in a debate. In no time, Sadashiva Swami, with his dazzling scholarship, tore all his adversary’s arguments to shreds and reduced him to a position where the Pandit Mahashaya had to apologize and retreat.