6. The problem of individuality in the oriental spirituality
an article by Gregorian Bivolaru
This idea leads us to the problem of individuality. At first glance it may often seem quite a paradox having to give up for good any form of ego, any personal history, whereas individuality is, at least apparently, the favourite (not to say exclusive) way of manifestation for BRAHMAN (GOD), the one eager to know himself.
For many of us it goes without saying that people are very observant to their history. They create archives, libraries, data base. Everything is put down and stored. When they miss written sources, they have archaeological excavations, then rush to plan the future and in some situations they rave about evolution. Here the symptom of a visceral fear in facing the final disappearance grows obvious, the loss of own personality, fear to forget all these traces: the supreme and goalless justification to assure man his future has a great importance in space and time. Contrary to the general conviction most often we do not live in present but in past or in future. What we take as present is but a past or a future which are more or less close; the present instant is almost always past or about to come. In tantra the true present is the abolished time, the unique DURATION. But man is often horrified by this, just as he is horrified with the black colour or by silence; he is losing his head and his short memory is leaving him. Moreover, finding out the precarious state of this personal memory and its tendency to hide itself in oblivion, man creates a collective memory, under the form of traditions and history, at which he can appeal anytime, on any sign of weakness, which makes him sure of the world continuity and especially helps him feel less lonely.
Without this culture his grounds would collapse and his ego would dissolve, because, as it is known, it has no consistency out of its own references which he maintains in order to survive. The perfection inside duality, dark but necessary for the world to be as it is, leads in a natural way to the confusion between Ego and the Supreme Self (ATMAN).
Culture and heredity seem at various degrees amounts of individual conditionings resulting from everyone’s memory of received impressions (SAMSKARA) time. If the collective history and culture have an educative value, they cannot pretend at all to trigger, or at least to favour our liberation because they are the very product of our conditionings. Therefore how could they free us from them? Knowing these we realize we are irremediably obliged to return to “I am”, which, of course, crosses every individual.
But instead of keeping us steady at this point, we always propose ourselves to qualify it, allotting it various attributes. Thus, we are confronted with our body, intellect, profession and finally with the character, having a personal history, taking himself seriously, having a “personality” and a free will, although very negligible. In this respect, having a personality is always somebody else’s problem and never the problem of the Supreme Self (ATMAN).
For our Supreme Self (ATMAN) has no history. It has no cause. It is the centre by means of which we reach the revelation of the beatific void, the central axis wherefrom all discourses blench and around which everything organizes and works. Without him nothing sustains, nothing tides up and nothing exists. It is the coherence itself. And without wheel, or by other words, without world, it cannot be outlined; he becomes BRAHMAN (GOD), the Self, neutral and undetermined.
Thus, without this personal body, without this privileged and individual way of manifestation, the real I, who is the Supreme Self (ATMAN) would remain always outside our power of understanding, existing in his impersonal way. (Thus we can realize that any paradox is life giving, because brings us closer to the truth, still it is better to avoid to arbitrarily abuse paradoxes, just to impress, to shock or to seem intelligent).
To put this in Sanskrit terms we can say that ATMAN, the Supreme Self, the purest and highest Conscience of “I am” is nothing but The Eternal Self, or in other words it is BRAHMAN (GOD) perceived in an individual way. By itself, at the reason or conversational level, BRAHMAN (GOD) remains just a concept: “that one”, the Supreme Self (ATMAN), a sort of “this or that”. On the contrary, our “I” can be concretely perceived just because of “I am”!
In this respect it is even very helpful not to use other terms to denote this aspect and especially the word “soul”, which is a constant source of systematic and dangerous confusions. Some terms should be simply erased from the vocabulary, because in many situations they give birth to prejudices, to preconceived opinions, to disorder, to intentions and to what it is considered to be “a priori”. The simple fact we sometimes think of this terms is enough to fall in the claws of the worst conditionings.
Also we shouldn’t forget that even the usage of most common words, less charged by that ancestral pathos, by all those attempts to explain – don’t push us themselves, even by one little step towards truth and don’t offer us the key to settle ourselves in the centre (the Supreme Self), where we might observe the wheel rotation from the inside, without interfering it. Their use sometimes is like of a thorn which we use to remove out another one that just entered our skin. After we finish the operation both thorns became useless for us and we throw them away. It is still interesting to note that the clear wording of a concept ca, get useful, for it gives birth to questions about the validity of that very concept and thus helps us recognize the imperative necessity to overtake the concept in order to live reality.
Our personal history, made up of all our received and accumulated impressions, belongs to this quite superficial layer. Our ego is the end of the chain. We should use it only when necessary. But it holds the entire place and it takes all powers. Our history refers to our ego not to our Supreme Self (ATMAN). For the Supreme Self, it is just a quite ridiculous anecdote.
Please read now about Effort or non-effort on the spiritual path…