Ordinary People with Extraordinary Character

Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation

There is a river of life continuously running. We have the opportunity every day to choose to participate in it. It is an invisible river that is flowing from the source of all. It is running through the world.

Our personalities can stop the river running through our lives. Often, our personalities have developed as a reaction to the world in which we live—by the way we were raised and by our desire to fit in with the world. But this is not who we are.

Most people think that personality and character are the same, but they are not. The origin of the word character is Greek and it refers to what God has etched on your own soul. That is character, and it is very different from personality. Your character has to do with the evolution of your own soul and the unfoldment of your Over-Soul. It is the way that we bring our gift to the world. There have been many people that showed their character throughout history. Martin Luther King, Jr., saw that there was not equality between men, and he brought the gift of civil and human rights. That was his way of demonstrating his character. Gandhi was thrown out of a train because of his skin color, and that was the beginning of what he brought to the independence of India. He showed his character as he accomplished the task. Mother Teresa saw the poverty in Calcutta, and she wanted to serve those people who were so in need. Even though the Catholic Church said, “No, this is not what we do,” she did her work. Many millions of dollars came to her organization because the world saw the character revealed in her service and wanted to support her.

Your character has something to do with the evolution of your soul and the expression of your Over-Soul. The Over-Soul is the Christ presence, the Christ light, in you. Your soul is an individual expression of the Over-Soul on earth.

What is running our lives? Is it our personality or is it our character? Here is a very good way to know: If you are stuck in unhappiness or if you are not having joy in your life, you may be letting your personality run your life, not your character. There are elements of personality that are created by the ego in survival mode. So if the personality is controlling your life, you stop the flow of the river for you. If you are running your life with your personality, you will find yourself with fleeting and counterfeit happiness. And if something you think is good happens, you have that kind of happiness. If something that you did not like happens, you are sad. So you depend on the circumstances outside of yourself. Character brings happiness and joy because this is who you are. It is your character that brings whatever you need to bring to any of the circumstances of life.

One of the traits of the personality based in ego is envy, and the human reaction to envy. Sometimes people don’t let themselves become excellent in their lives and in their service because they are afraid of the envy of other people. This is very different from jealousy. When a person is jealous, they think, “I want to have what they have.” When a person is envious, they think, “I don’t want them to have what they have.” Envy is related to gossip and putting down the gift of the person. Many people are afraid to lead with excellence because they believe that they would be the envy of other people. This is one of the factors that creates personality and sets the lowest common denominator as the standard for a group of people, or for a whole society. We were created to lead with excellence. You, and each one of us, can say, “We have been made in the image and likeness of God, and we have the power to bring excellence wherever we go.”

Last night I was watching the movie Freedom Writers. It is the true story of a teacher dealing with young people in Long Beach, California. In order to bring her students to a new awareness of the potential for their lives, the teacher introduced them to new books. One of the books that she chose for them was The Diary of Anne Frank. The students were so moved that they decided to bring Miep Gies, who had hidden Anne Frank in her home, from The Netherlands to their school. Miep told the story of how she hid Anne from the Germans for a time, and how the Germans eventually came to her home and took Anne away. It was a very dramatic moment in Miep Gies’ life and a profound time for the class as she told the story. One of the students said to her, “I don’t have any hero, but you are my hero now.” She replied, “You know, I did what was the right thing to do. I am not a hero. We ordinary people have the power to bring our own unique light into a dark room and change it forever.” Miep Gies passed away on January 12th of this year. But the powerful message she brought to those students is still with us. We have that power that she was talking about. We have the power to bring our own gift, in our own way, into this world.

I would love to share with you a quote from the Buddha that exemplifies what we are talking about: “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” You can check yourself out when you are asked, “How are you doing; how is your life going?” If you find you are talking about what is happening outside of yourself and allowing that to define you, you are talking about your personality. But if you are saying what your attitude is in these circumstances, you may be talking about yourself, about your greatness and about your character. You get to choose your attitude, and your attitude determines the altitude at which you are living. It determines the place from which you are carrying your world. It determines what spirit you invoke in your life. It determines what you are affirming and it shapes your prayers. You get to choose that. This choice is a great gift we can remember to embrace all through our lives.

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