INDIVIDUALITY – CAITYA PURUSA
The Mantra: Jay Madiiya Satya Vizasanataa
(Victory to my true individuality)
Individuality should never be confused with the ego or the personality
like most do, nor as something separating us from others,
for as such it is an illusion.
a) Mère introduces the issue with the basics:
Your present individuality is a very mixed thing, a series of changes which
yet preserve a certain continuity, a certain sameness or identity
of vibration in the midst of all flux.
It is almost like a river which is never the same and yet has a certain
definiteness and persistence of its own.
The Ashtavarka Ghita points out that
When the sage has realized that he himself is in all beings and all beings
are in him, it is astonishing that the sense of individuality
should be able to continue.
Don’t you find it astonishing?
The Vedanta recognizes a measure of individuality, but not as a birthright,
as something which must be striven for
to be achieved.
Until a certain level of personal evolution
we are not yet real individuals but an ephemeral amalgam of desires,
fears, aspirations, regrets, etc, which is like a cocoon
where our true Self prepares to emerge.
As Jeff Foster noted,
There is only ever the present appearance of life, with no individual
at its core who could ever escape
even if they wanted to.
How close to emerge would you say that it is in you?
Indeed, the individual is merely another appearance in the play, not something that needs to be accepted or rejected, transcended or denied, but something that simply appears, along with all the other sights, sounds, smells, thoughts and feelings.
When we have done the necessary work on ourselves,
a measure of individuality begins to be formed in us.
But never forget that to discover it and become one with it
we must first dissolve the false, apparent “I”
covering it up.
Sri Aurobindo adds that:
The individual being also in its spiritual part is not a formation in the cosmic existence—our ego, our mind, our life, our body are that;
but the immutable spirit, the imperishable soul in us
has come out of the Transcendence.
b) Most are so attached to their “individuality”
because they feel uncertain, empty and need something to hold on something that can define them,
but their ignorance of what a true individuality really is prevents them
from reaching it in the first place.
By identifying yourself day after day with the forces of your life you also ended up believing that their sum constitute your individuality, but even your physical body is never the same: every seven years all its cells are completely replaced by new ones.
Wouldn’t a monkey be better off giving up its “individuality”
as a monkey to become a human being?
But the monkey is afraid to!
The monkey enjoys being a monkey, doesn’t want to renounce the fun of going up and down trees and find there delicious nuts.
Which are the equivalent in your life of those trees and nuts?
While still identified with the “individual” that you seem to be
the monkey is YOU.
Just in case you would rather not know!
Wouldn’t you be better off giving up your ”individuality”
as a human being to become infinitely more,
one with the Divine?
You sure would.
But the “human” part of you is afraid of it, just like
darkness is afraid of the light.
As Eric Hoffer noted,
The individual’s hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations
have remained unchanged through the millennia.
To which extent?
The evolutive changes are subtle, under the surface, but they are there.
Tony Parsons adds that:
As long as there’s an individual who attempts to reach somewhere or wishes
to become something else, the game of seeker and sought
goes on being reinforced.
c) Ask yourself:
What makes me feel that I am an individual?
You are not quite the same as you were just a few months ago, even just
a week ago, and won’t be quite the same even tomorrow.
See how your thoughts and emotions kept changing
all the time: what makes you feel
that they are you?
What gives us the illusion of our individuality is the fact that consciousness tends to identify itself automatically with whatever we experience and think about, but all this
is never any definite, permanent and stable individuality
but a process in constant modification.
Can you observe these constant modifications in you?
How do they make you feel?
Nisargadatta Maharaj asks:
All your identities at the body-mind level have been changing continuously, and none of them has been constant and faithful to you.
Why then are you attracted to any of such identities by stating
“I am like this,” “I am like that”?
The term “individual” implies something unique and in a certain sense indivisible.
However, until we have accomplished a certain amount of work on ourselves
we seem to be no more than an amalgam
of ever-changing personalities.
We said personalities at the plural because until we have achieved the integration of all the various parts of our being into a real individuality,
we never have only one personality but many, often a whole gang
of them, and each wears a different mask.
How many personalities do you have?
Which is the specific nature of each?
How many masks do you wear?
How do they make you feel?
As Mère noted,
the real “I”…is not a “clear individual”,
that is, a clear-cut limited separative ego, it is as wide
as the universe and can contain
the cosmos in itself.
Babaji adds that:
Now the Lord is showing us we aren’t just bubbles in a canal, but rather bubbles in the great ocean.
As long as we have individuality we are seen as bubbles;
when we disappear we are one with the ocean.
d) Traditional Buddhism denies that there is any real individuality at all
and according to its Hinayana branch
no Self is ever real but it is only the focal point of a flux of energies, like a vortex
in the flow of a turbulent river creating in the human mind
the illusion of selfhood.
An example made by many Teachers along the ages with different or similar words is that:
Individuality is like a river with the two sides defining it, but when it reaches
the ocean at a last it loses them to become part of the whole sea:
then all boundaries are dissolved forever.
Wouldn’t you like to part of the whole sea?
Secretly you ALREADY are.
Wouldn’t you like all your boundaries to be annihilated?
Surely you aren’t afraid of it and would rather remain in any narrow and limiting boundaries under the illusion that they are safer?
They aren’t safe at all.
They are disguised forms of inner death.
Wu Hsin makes a very important point:
From infant, to teenager,
To adult to elder, what can be
Less permanent than identity?
To root oneself in identity
is like planting a tree in the mist.
Peace is a state not of the individual mind,
but of a mind freed of individuality.
Babaji adds that:
As long as we have individuality we are seen as bubbles;
when we disappear we are one with the ocean.
e) As the Yoga Vashista affirms,
The living soul is misled to think of its individuality
as the ego
by the density or dullness of its mind and assumes to be confined within a limited space of place and time and with limited powers of action and understanding.
According to Ramesh S. Balsekar:
The individual does not finally merge with his original nature any more than a wave merges with water. They were not different to begin with. A wave is nothing more than the shifting shape of the water itself.
It is not a question of joining separate things but of the abandonment
of something inessential and superficial, the false identity
of a separate individual entity.
The Buddha agrees:
Events happen, deeds are done, but there is
no individual who does them.
R.M. Rilke made this very good example:
If we think of an individual’s existence as a larger or smaller room,
clearly most people learn to know only a corner of their room,
like a place by the window or a strip of floor
on which they walk up and down.
Thus they have a certain security.
But it is real?
Not at all.
What about you?
Wu Hsin warns that:
Individuality is the prism through which
the world becomes distorted.
This is the case because the world is represented as how
it relates to “me”.
Mere sums it all up thus:
Each individual has his own way of expressing, thinking, speaking, feeling, understanding. It is the combination of all these ways that makes the individual. This is why everyone can only understand according to his own nature.
As long are you are shut up in your nature, you can know only
what is in your consciousness. Your world is limited
to what you have in your consciousness.
When asked what the essence of a dervish was, the Kabuli replied:
At least while twirling, a true dervish should be able
to go beyond his so called “individuality”
into Allah’s splendor.
Did you ever go beyond your so called “individuality”?
If not, why not?
If yes, how?
Have you already had a glimpse of His Splendor?
However, not everyone agrees: for example, according to James F. Cooper all greatness of character is based on individuality.
The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes
in common with all around him will never have any other
than an existence of mediocrity.
True or false?
Well, it depends on how we define existence.
On what does true individuality consist?
Going beyond individuality does not mean being like everyone else at all,
it means being who we really are.
As in the case of Personality, the Veil consists in the fact that
all the highest elements of our being, like Love, Joy, and Vision
abide far beyond our “individuality.”
Just like our personality, in the Dreamgame our Individuality is not our “avatar” but the way in which we play with it in the videogame of our life, but at least our individuality is less far to whom we really are than the personality.
Our so called individuality can be either a WEAKNESS or an ASSET according to our attitude to the Dreamgame.
But for it to be an asset we must first realize that
it is NOT our self-image, not how
we used to see ourselves.
In its highest sense individuality is an echo of the Divine’s consciousness in us and keeps evolving through our whole life while remaining essentially the same.
But don’t try to understand this
with your mind alone.
Speaking of it Mère said:
…this much overrated and meddlesome fly on the wheel
which you call the clear individual “I”.
The good news is that
the time of individuality in its separative sense will soon be over
and the one of the true individuality which is ONE
with all is rapidly approaching.
Mere also said that:
It is not till the psychic is felt as yourself that you can be an individual even;
for it is the true self in you. Before the true self is known,
you are a public place, not a being.
How does it make you feel?
Most people seem more or less comfortable with it.
The Devil’s Advocate:
Please tell, from where have you gathered all the elements which make up your presumed “individuality” if not from other people’s words, books, systems of belief, etc?
Is it then really your individuality or theirs?
In any case, they also have no real individuality at all.
You have been had, but good!
Most people are desperately clutching at their apparent “individuality” and they fear death because they are terrified of losing it,
but before a certain level of the Path there can be no real individuality,
for is not a birthright but a conquest.
Consciously strive to uplift your superficial personality
into a real individuality.
Words of Power:
The more we remain identified with our apparent individuality the more
we remain separated with whom we really are.
My true individuality is a ray
of the Divine.
“Identity is theft of the self.”
“The knowledge of individualities is mere fallacy,
when everything is united in that sole unity.”
The Yoga Vashista
“Identity is the sole victim of the world…
and the sole criminal.” Mooji.
“You must discover your identity; then only can you have peace.”
The Atharva Veda
“Identity is an acquired idea. One is what one was
prior to the acquisition.” Wu Hsin
“One cannot see God and yet retain individuality.”
The Ashtavarka Ghita
Yes, the answer is rather obvious.
But then why most keep forgetting it?
How can one prevent a single drop of water
from ever drying up?
This question is in the context Tibetan Buddhism and of the illusoriety of the world, the impermanence of all things, and the answer is that there is only one way:
by casting it into the Sea.
Which is pretty obvious.
But the strange thing is that most never figure it out,
therefore they whole lives dry up long before
they physically die.
What does this “sea” represents?
How will you throw the drop that you are into it?
From “The Quest”:
Realizing that we have hardly any real individuality yet can be quite frightening at first;
in my early teens it drove me to the verge of insanity.
When I read this passage of Mère:
“Individuality is not at all the rule,
it is an exception,
and if you do not have that sort of bag, a particular form which is your outer body and your appearance, you could hardly be distinguished from one another.
Individuality is a conquest.
In fact, the ﬁrst victory is to create an individuality. And then later, the second victory is to give this individuality to the Divine.
The third victory is when the Divine changes our individuality
into a divine being.
There are three stages: the ﬁrst is to become an individual; the second is to consecrate the individual, that he may surrender entirely to the Divine and be identiﬁed with Him; and the third is that
the Divine takes possession of this individual and changes him
into a being in His own image, that is,
he too becomes divine.”
Then I realized that
holding onto my own apparent individuality is like a drop of water
insisting in remaining so little and isolated
when it could be the whole sea.
Question/ko’han 1 and 2:
What does individuality really mean to you?
Question/ko’han 3 and 4:
What is it that makes you feel that you are an individual?
What in you is truly unique?
Hint: It may have very little to do with what is most people consider important.
Question/ko’han 5 :
Real individuality is founded much more
in our feelings than in our thoughts.
What does it imply?
Wei Wu Wei warned:
Beware of beatified individuality.
Emerson said that the individual is always mistaken.
The answer is pretty obvious.
Sri Aurobindo has the last word:
The most disconcerting discovery is to ﬁnd that every part of us – intellect,
will, sense-mind, nervous or desire self, the heart, the body –
has each, as it were, its own complex individuality and natural
formation independent of the rest.
What does this imply?
A man is never the same for long. He is continually changing.
He seldom remains the same even for half an hour….
Man has no individual I
but there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small “I’s”,
very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact or,
on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive.
Yes, it hurts to realize this.
But until we do there is no incentive to do something about it.
2) Meditate on these words of Sri Aurobindo:
We perceive a formation of mental, physical, vital experience which distinguishes itself from the rest of being, and that is what we think of
as ourselves in nature—this individualization of being in becoming.
We then proceed to conceive of ourselves as something
which has thus individualized itself and only exists
so long as it is individualized,—
a temporary or at least a temporal becoming; or else we conceive of ourselves as someone who supports or causes the individualization, an immortal being perhaps
but limited by its individuality.
3) Meditate also on this passage of Mère:
The very fact of being separated from all others is what gives you
the feeling that you are an individual.
Otherwise you would have the feeling that you were a ﬂuid mass.
For example, instead of being conscious of your external form and of everything in your being which makes of you a separate individuality, if you were conscious of the vital forces which move everywhere or of the inconscient that is at the base of all, you would have the feeling of a mass moving with all kinds of contradictory movements but which could not be separated from each other;
you would not have the feeling of being an individual at all:
you would have the feeling of something like
a vibration in the midst of a whole.
1) This metaphor of Sogyal Rimpoche:
Imagine a person who suddenly wakes up in the hospital after an automobile accident to find that she is suffering from total amnesia. Outwardly, everything is intact: she has the same face and form, her senses and her mind are there, but she doesn’t have any idea or any trace of a memory of who she really is.
In exactly the same way, we cannot remember
our true identity, our original nature.
Frantically, and in real dread, we cast around and improvise another identity, one we clutch with all the desperation of someone falling continuously into an abyss.
2) These words of Gurdjeff
We are not individuals yet. We are struggling towards individuality,
and that is the Infinite, the real nature of man.
He alone lives whose life is in the whole universe, and the more we concentrate our lives on limited things, the faster we go towards death…
It is only the Spirit that is the individual,
because it is infinite.
No infinity can be divided; infinity cannot be broken into pieces. It is the same one, undivided unit for ever, and this is the individual man, the Real Man.
The apparent man is merely a struggle to express, to manifest
this individuality which is beyond.
3) This passage of Mère:
You are moved – a kind of form which is your physical being is moved – by all
the common universal forces, vital forces or mental forces,
which go through your form and put it in motion…
And all that you have wrested from this general semi-consciousness, and have crystallized into a more or less independent being, conscious of itself and having its own qualities, all this is your individual being.
And this individual being is full of all the movements of obscurity, unconsciousness, and of the limitations of ordinary life,
and that’s what you must gradually open to the divine inﬂuence and bring
to the consciousness and understanding of things.
The psychic being is the real individuality of the true
and divine individual within you.
For your individuality means your special mode of expression and your psychic being is a special aspect of the one Divine Consciousness that has taken shape in you.
But in the psychic consciousness there is not that sense of division between the individual and the universal consciousness which affects the other parts of your nature.
You are conscious that your individuality is your own line of expression,
but at the same time you know too that it is an expression
objectifying the one universal consciousness.
Individuality? As a revolutionary I once saw myself
then the Flower Children’s garments wore
which to play a Yogi’s role then discarded, etc…
Now without all this so much simpler life is!