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What is individuality? || Acharya Prashant (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
13 min
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Speaker: The sense in which word ‘Individuality’ is used here refers to THAT which is beyond conceptualization; it refers to that which is beyond the grasp of intellect. It refers to one’s very essence which one cannot know via the mind. All the knowledge we have is always indirect, in the sense that it comes to us through the mind. It comes to the mind, through the mind. So, whatever knowledge the mind has is always indirect in that sense.

Listener: It comes to mind through the mind! Speaker: It comes to the mind through the mind, and because we are deeply identified with the mind, so we say that it is our knowledge. It is actually just a happening in the mind. Listener: But who is identified with the mind? Speaker: The mind itself is identified with the mind. Listener: Mind will be identified with itself only and it will not know beyond itself. Speaker: All identifications will be with it only. Obviously, mind can ‘know’ nothing of the beyond. Listener: That knowing is what we talk about. Knowing is our nature. Speaker: That is not at all indirect. See, knowledge is when there is somebody to receive the knowledge and that somebody is always the mind. Listener: The mind Speaker: This knowing is when one is always standing alert to receive the knowledge, and also create knowledge, not as if somebody else is creating it. Who is always standing alert to receive and create knowledge? Listener: Mind itself. Speaker: Knowing is when one who is always alert to receive the knowledge is no more alert, it is relaxed, and then this is knowing. So your question that, ‘who is it that is knowing?’ Nobody. Because usually what we call as ‘knower’ is just the mind. That is what our entire knowledge comprises of.‘Personality’ is all that which is acquired via the mind. So, you can very well know it. There are symptoms, there are traits, and there will be difference in personality among people, because mind is diversity and hence people will have diverse experiences. One set of experiences will be different than the other set of experiences. So, personalities are going to be different. Mind is diversity, mind is differentiation and localization.Then there is something called ‘individuality’. That individuality in the sense that we are talking of, it is not at all ‘personal’. So, please never use the word ‘My Individuality’. ‘Personality’ is obviously personal. Personalities are obviously going to be diverse. There is nothing called ‘Individualities’. There is only individuality and that individuality is neither same nor different because, both sameness and difference are mental concepts. So, if you ask me, ‘is my individuality same as your individuality?’ No. ‘Is it different?’ No. ‘Then, what is it?’ Silence. Are you getting it?Obviously, mind is still alert, you will not get it. If you are trying to receive this as knowledge, then you will not understand. What I am saying cannot be received as knowledge; this is not some information being supplied. Personality is all that which this localized mind has experienced, since what we call as its birth. Individuality is not at all that. What is individuality? There can be no indirect experience of individuality and we know only indirect experiences. Listener: Via the mind Speaker: So, how can we know that there is anything called Individuality? You will know and you do know when you act in ways which are calm, composed, when there is minimum intervention of thought, when there is an inherent sense of security, when you are in the flow and there is spontaneous action- that is your individuality. Now, things are happening without the interference of the mind, without the aid of mental activity. So, what is then the position of mind and body in individuality? Is the mind just keep sleeping in an individual? In the expression of individuality, does the mind have no place? No, the word expression is very revealing. Mind is the tool through which individuality will be expressed. How can expression take place? Expression will always be in time and space, in the world through actions, through word. Mind and body are agents of expressions of what? Listener: Individuality Speaker: So, mind can be the dancer that dances to the tune of individuality, not to its own tune, but to the tune of individuality. When mind dances to its own tune then it is…. Listener: Personality Speaker: When the mind dances to the tune of the beyond, this is individuality. Listener: Is the mind capable of dancing on its own tune? Speaker: It always does that. Listener: Can’t it also be a kind of expression of the beyond? Speaker: No, a machine always dances to its own tune. Once machine is made and designed, it is self sufficient. Listener: Individuality is the source which….. Speaker: Made it and after that it is self sufficient. Then it need not be in touch with any kind of source. So, mind is useful but only as the messenger of the news that is coming from THERE, not as somebody who delivers his own set of news. The postman comes and delivers something. Is the postman bringing the news from somewhere or is the postman creating some news? So, that is the purpose of mind, that is the purpose of life, and it is also a truthful personality. A personality that springs from individuality is a truthful personality but that personality cannot be rigid.Right now, you are saying something to me; there are two sources from where your words can come. Ninety-five percent of times, your words come from something that you have heard of, read about, experienced. But sometimes it happens, that you say something that surprises even you. After saying that, you ask yourself that where that came from. ‘I don’t think I have read that anywhere’. ‘In fact, whatever I have read runs counters to what I have just said’. Your replies can come either from something which is already in database, but your replies can also come from some other place, some will find it difficult to believe. It is because our education system has been such that what you have been asked in exam is always what you have been taught in syllabus. The message that has been given to the students is you can know only if you have had a previous experience. In our education system, there is no place for meditative knowing- that you already know, that nobody needs to tell it you, that you do have an alternate, a more fundamental, a more all encompassing source of knowing.You should guard against one happening; which is that you should not believe that solidified personality is individuality. There is a message being delivered that individuality is what you really are; an individual does what he really wants to do. No, that’s not so. That is your solidified personality, hardcore personality. Individuality is that which expresses itself in meditation, which expresses itself in a calm mind. Individuality is the core, of which personality is the gloss.We said that we have to be careful in delivering that we arrive from another world. Do not be too interested in connecting the other world through examples from their world. You can connect gloss but if you start connecting the core, then you are connecting that which cannot be conceptualized to this, which is already a concept, and this is a fundamental mistake. This is the same mistake people make when they say that God is like a caring father. You have taken that world and unnecessarily connected to an image from this world. So, they will bring down that world to this world and that is exactly what should not happen, just as people who say that the Atman is in my body. You have taken up something from THERE, and made it of this world. This is poisonous. Listener: Sir, we know ourselves in all of those identities, and when we say that we are individual, we are basically saying that our intelligence is in operation. So, how can we differentiate that intelligence because somehow it is also influenced by the thoughts which we have? Speaker: Intelligence is not influenced by thoughts. Intelligence is that which comes into operation when thoughts calm down. When thoughts calm down, intelligence comes on its own. Intelligence is not something that thoughts shape. You remember the 1-2-3-4 frame work?Source – Awareness – Consciousness – Matter (including brain)1 2 3 4Where does intelligence lie? On 2. Do not be in a hurry to put anything at 1. That is mind’s attempt again to lay its hands on the ultimate. It would be very easy for the knower to just put 1 and 2 together and there is no real reason why they must be separated. There is 1 in distinct to 2 so that you don’t start conceptualizing 1. Intelligence is understanding. Listener: Can we put it this way that individuality is awareness through consciousness? Speaker: Not through consciousness. Do you ever say mother through baby? Then, what do you mean by awareness through consciousness? Listener: Awareness, which makes mind instrumental. Speaker: Yes, so not through. So, is it clear that individualities are not different? Your individuality is not different from my individuality; it is also not the same. So this question that ‘are all individuals the same?’, ‘will the world not become a boring place if everybody expresses individuality?’No. The answer is that the expression would anyway always take place through the mind. So, in expression there would always be diversity. The expression will take place through the mind and through the body, and both the mind and body are different for different persons. So, don’t worry, world will never become boring. Listener 1: Sir, it is like sunlight and rainbow, both have same source. Listener 2: Even in non living things and plants, same expression works but in them expression is not via mind. But, still there is so much diversity in them. Speaker: Animals and plants exist in your world, through your mind. Are you getting it? Animals and plants are just objects, but you are giving them shape through the processes happening in mind. It is not as if separate beings are going on here and there. That’s why one must first look at himself rather than being worried about this or that. Everything appears shaking in a shaking mirror. First take care of your mind. How can I know anything about animals, plants, stones? Through what instrument? Listener: Through mind, so first know about mind. Speaker: Because that is the only medium of knowing anything. So, first know about that. Maybe after that you will not require to know about this and that. Listener: So, can we connect the concept of individuality with electricity because with same electricity, somebody takes sound, somebody takes this or that. Speaker: You want to relate personality with something, relate, but do not try to relate words from THERE to images from here (pointing at the mind); that would be very confusing and harmful. Do not try to give examples of individuality, examples will conceptualize it. Listener: Sir, why there is so negation of this world? Speaker: There is no negation of this world. We are taking this world for what it is. Who is negating it? There is personality. Are we saying there is no personality? What do you mean by negating? Listener: Why are we saying that we must emphasize on other world, and things are coming from THERE? Speaker: Because there are things which are coming from there. What was the first thing we said? When you speak, your words come from two sources; when you act, your actions come from two sources. When you decide, your decisions come from two sources; either you can decide from your mind, which is afraid, or you can decide from somewhere else. In your life, try to make decisions from THAT somewhere also, have that courage, and then you will know. Otherwise, whatever I will say, will only be knowledge, and that will never convince you. This question is a very honest question- that is there anything actually called a core? Is there anything actually called understanding? The only proof of these things is your meditation, your own life. Only that can convince you that ‘Yes! I know’. ‘My life is moving in an unplanned way, and I am still so happy’. ‘So, I know life need not come out of thought’.You want me to convince you? No, I cannot convince you. You have to live that way to be convinced. I can convince you on concepts. You want to be convinced about gloss, I can surely convince you and I can give you proof on it; but if you want a proof of core, I cannot give you any proof, because that proof has to be your own life. You want me to prove you about the qualities of this world, I can easily prove, anybody can prove; but if you want to be convinced about that world, I cannot do that. You have to live that. Listener: Sir, can we say that THIS world and THAT world are equal to inner and outer world? Speaker: No, you cannot say that because inner and outer are both THIS world.

-Excerpts a Clarity session held at Advait office. Edited for clarity.

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