No Man's Land

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No Man’s Land;

Experimenting with a military approach to psychological evolution.


There are three barriers between you and the outside world. The first is your physical body. The second is your emotional body or ‘body of desire’. The third is your mind, or intellect, the mental body. Collectively, this is called the ‘personality.’[1]

   This suggests that ‘you’ are a fourth thing. Generally we identify the first three things as ourselves, however, I aim to show this is a misapprehension.

   Impressions first reach us through the first barrier. A sight, for example. The second barrier may give the sight a value. The sight may be disliked, funny, or it might cause lust, and so on. This sets off reactions in the third barrier, such as fantasies, memories and associations. None of these reactions are voluntary. This is the point; the thing seen is ‘getting to you’ via these three layers. It is affecting you. The external phenomenon is controlling the layers in those times.

   The personality can be thought of as a ‘no man’s land’ between you and external forces.

   A billboard is an extension of the will of the man who owns the company, which is selling the product advertised. If you react to the sight of the image – whether physically (a double-take?), emotionally (“I must buy one!”), or mentally (the image sparking off associations, or even if your mind diatribes against the billboard) – the owner has entered or ‘possessed’ you. If you accept the possession, your personality becomes – on sight – an extension of the billboard, and therefore an extension of him. If you rebel against the possession, he has still caused you to react unconsciously. He is a planet, and you a moon.

   Whatever you control is an extension of you. A tool, for instance. What you cannot control becomes an extension of something else. In the beginning, the barriers are non-existent: the gates are open. The strongest will absorbs the lesser.

   Imagine you are watching your weight, and somebody suggests ice cream. You say no, but then this somebody presents an actual ice cream to you, in front of your eyes. It is a hot day and ice cream is dripping down the sides. If there is temptation, there is something of a ‘tug-of-war’ over the first barrier. If you control it, you can make it not eat ice cream. If the ‘somebody’ controls it, then without physically touching it, he makes it eat. This somebody does not in this case need a strong will, just ice cream. But the power of temptation associated with the sight of it shows that the physical body is susceptible to outside control.

   Recently, I went for a job interview. It was a Wednesday. To myself, I decided that if they asked, I would not ‘be able’ to begin until Monday, loathing to start too soon. During the interview, the boss suddenly asked, “So, can you start right now?” It was a loaded question.

   Stammering, I said no.


   I stammered a lie about one more shift in my old job.

   “Well tomorrow then. You can start tomorrow, right?”

   Her question was not really a question but more like a beam of expectation, which penetrated all three layers. Almost as a reflex I answered yes. The prospect of turning her down twice frightened me. She controlled the personality then. Her will was for me to start tomorrow, and mine was not a factor. The three layers were under her control.

   A job possesses on different levels. The first level is physically. You do whatsoever your boss tells you to, physically. Your body is an extension of his will at least temporarily. The next level is emotionally, then mentally. In the case of management level jobs, the boss has broken through all three defences. He controls your mind inasmuch as you use it for his purposes for the day. You think what he wants you to think. You have given up more; this is perhaps why management is paid more. Labourers have only had the first barrier penetrated. So they are paid less. They are freer, as their thoughts are still theirs. If you find yourself desiring to please your boss, or taking a lot of pride in your job, the second layer too, has been conceded.

   This likens work to possession or obsession, but it must be remembered that most people need this possession. Anybody who is unaware of the fourth part, and therefore have no fourth part to speak of, need a substitute self. This they get in the form of employers; the boss is the substitute soul.

   If you, the fourth thing, have no control generally, it can be said that you are not a factor in your life. It can, therefore, be said that you do not exist for practical purposes. In this case, the belief that there is no soul is either true or might as well be. In the case where the three layers are controlled and protected by you, the fourth principle, you become a power. Assertiveness is a measure of existence.


   As said, the personality can be said to be a ‘no man’s land’ between the entity and the outside world of forces.

   The first task in any endeavour in life is to secure these three barriers. Until then all else is futile. However, they cannot be secured as long as you identify yourself as these barriers. Awareness of them as ‘not I’ is essential, which means awareness of yourself as a fourth part is essential. The fourth can be understood as awareness, consciousness.

   This awareness is the first assertion: “I am.”  Or “‘I’ am.” When this happens, the mind, for the first time, will react to the fourth thing, an internal influence. And so on down the line. The physical reaction will necessarily be creative, not consumptive; it will be responsive, not reactive. In Eastern symbology this conscious part is sometimes referred to as a flickering flame in the wind, the goal being to make it steady. To continue the military metaphor, we could picture it as the flag that must be protected in war games.   


The question of violence understandably comes up. This idea of building barriers sounds like a warlike way of viewing reality. Where is love?, one will ask.

   Love involves reaching out to others. The personality is your tool for reaching out to others. If you have no control over the personality, you cannot reach others, except by unconscious reaction. In other words, you are incapable of love. 

   Asserting the self over these three parts is not violent yet. The Old Testament comes before the New Testament; cause and effect is the first lesson learned. Afterwards, with full freedom from emotional reaction, you are able to resist the urge to retaliate—and turn the other cheek. Put simply all this is refraining from being a falling domino, or pinball machine. Before the securing of the personality, it is impossible to resist the urge in any consistent or predictable way.

   Assertiveness must not be mistaken for aggression. It takes great assertion of the fourth part (the soul) over the three other parts (the personality) to turn the other cheek. Especially when you are much stronger than the fellow who has struck you. Striking back is aggressive, but the self has made no assertion.   




[1] Terminology of Alice A. Bailey.