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First Principle Study Group - Class three - What is a "person?"
The first principle of Unitarian Univeralism is based on a covenant to
affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The question to be
considered is: What is this object we have named “person?”
Is a person their body? No, their body is constantly changing.
Is a person their mind? Decartes is famous for saying “Cogito ego sum,” I
think therefore I am, but thoughts change constantly.
Is a person their emotions? Again their emotions fluctuate and change all
Is a person their personality? No, their personality often changes for
Are they their social status and the roles they play? No, they also
So if a person is not the body, the mind, the emotions, the personality, the
status and roles, what is the person?
The person is the witness. The witness is that part of a person which
observes the person’s functioning in all of the domains.
Some people have a more highly developed witness than others. In the
field of Emotional Intelligence, this is called “self knowledge.” To what
extent does a person understand what makes him/her tick?
At a spiritual level, a mature soul recognizes that (s)he is part of the
interdependent web. The person is a social construction which can only be
understood and appreciated in a social context, in relation to other people.
In A Course Of Miracles, “Son of God” refers to the plural aggregation of
all of humanity.
At advanced stages of spiritual development, the ego is dropped and there
is a merging with the Ground of Being. The Buddhist monk, in the joke, asks the
hot dog vendor to make him one with everything.
The energy which animates our egoistic manifestation is eternal and lives
in the Universe eternally.
There are many sides to our personality which we
are aware of in our different relationships and roles we play. We are one
person with our parents, another with our partner, another with our children,
another with our co-workers, another with our friends, etc. Who is the real
you? Who is the you that rises above these roles and relationships? Describe it
as best as you can.
To what extent have you set your ego aside and
gone with the flow on the spiritual path? What helps you move into and stay in
To what extent have you been able to meditate
and achieve a state of “no mind”?
To what extent do these ideas matter to you?
To what extent is it important to you to rise
above the mundane concerns on the path of the ego?
To what extent do you desire to find peace and
joy which comes from rising above the every day concerns of the material life?
This is the third class out of 8 on the first principle of Unitarian Universalism. Class materials are published every Monday.