What is the individual today, in view of a constantly changing world?


All Writings, Individual, Society / Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

When you close your eyes and shut out the sounds of the outside world, there is a place you can reach with the passage of time. There is a place within you that is worth visiting. Most people have never visited that place. It is much more likely, that even before there has been a recognition of this inner place, it was already visited by strangers. How did those strangers find that place? How did they get there? Who let them into this private, secret place?

We are today exposed to a world so strong and intrusive, it takes us away from who we are even before there has been a chance to know who we are and where to find ourselves. Since the individual is so quickly overcome by the powers of the outside influences, it then seems to make sense forever after to keep searching for those answers out of who one is. We spend our entire lives looking for answers and clues to the truth about ourselves in the outside world. After we travel the great world out of our own selves, after learning so many things, we then find one day that we have entirely left unknown our own selves.

Are you a traveler? All men are travelers. Even while sitting in a chair or lying on the ground, we are able to travel with our minds to places and be in situations that seem to come to life and then perish within the space of our thoughts. In our thoughts we can create and in our thoughts we can destroy, and no one will ever know apart from ourselves what happened. The individual human being is a remarkable, unexplored entity; an unknown, undiscovered potential. It is a cause of very great regret, this individual is lost to oneself and corrupted long before it ever has a chance to really become what it is meant to be. Ours is a world of great tragedy!

We have done so much as a creature. We have dug open the surface of the earth to discover what is hidden within, we have gone deep under the ocean surface, also traveled beyond the earth and seen into the far reaches of the universe with our telescopes. With the opening up of the wealth of information, human nature should have blossomed into an unequaled bloom. Though the possibilities have existed, we have not. Instead, by our own devices and pursuits, we have become entrapped into an existence that stifles the individual before he ever has had a chance to breathe freely.

Man traveling alone on a road toward the sun
The traveling man

The individual would ideally be such a natural starting point for all and any adventure. But even before one can set out, one is overcome by confusion if not by the ferocity this world throws at us. Before there is a chance to admire or love the individual we are, it has been deeply stained. The child of this day is influenced by all these commodities we have produced. At a time in the not so distant past, it would have seemed entirely impossible to imagine of a world filled with mobile communication devices, with the global network made possible by the Internet, and all our means of fast travel by air, sea, or by land. We are today beholding the miracle of human achievements, but we have lost the very human who could appreciate his own existence. If we had appreciated human life, this would have been a very different world. We would have been fascinated with life and all living things. We are instead fascinated with death and destruction, perhaps spending no thought on what it takes to make even the simplest thing we can see in our environment.

Are you a traveler? All men are travelers.

Before we spend time thinking about what it takes to build a car, or a house, or an aircraft, let one take time to think what it takes to build an individual. What is it in a mass of tissue and bones, animated by circulating blood and the flow of breath that makes an individual? An individual cannot simply be defined by the physical attributes, or be thought to be limited to just the tangible. A realized human who sees within himself the “unseeable”, only “feelable” existence is already at a different level of thought. He functions differently from those confined to the physical limitations.

Music, art, and deep conversations with friends allow us to respond from a level deeper than the physical. There is a deeper place within us from where tears of pain and laughter of happiness come. The true contentment a human being seeks can never come from physical things like possessions or commodities. The satisfaction from things is as transient as those things are. Even if we build great structures of architecture – and those are accomplishments – but, we cannot ever be fulfilled with those things. In a way, we build those things to cover our inner emptiness. We distract ourselves by our architecture and it becomes more than a distraction. We seek to stay in a perpetual distraction, and then those become our endless pursuits. After we have spent our lives in pursuit of building enduring structures, one day we find that the individual is poor, hungry, weak, and very empty. Even without the great physical accomplishments, had the individual been fulfilled by meeting the real needs of his true existence, he would have found satisfaction. The tragedy of our world is, people living and dying lives without a sense of meaning and never finding satisfaction. All of this becomes a public spectacle, and man dies as fake a death as one seen on the stage of a theater. All pretenses and acts come to an end, and then man is not even remembered with a sense of loss. This is a tragic loss – the loss of the individual.

While it has become fashionable to think of grand schemes and of great pursuits, man is really so shallow. Selfishness makes man shallow. If an individual truly wishes to think of great things, he first needs to become a deep vessel. Then, he needs to break the confines of his vessel, and become free of limitations. There is a kind of man who sees his vessel as merely a container, one that is to discarded. Yes, the physical body is a vessel, and it is the instrument of human activities, but it only serves to confine an individual.

The individual who is not selfish, can also find himself lost in shallowness, by being encumbered with many distractions. In either extreme – trying to fill only oneself or giving away everything in a loss of focus – a man becomes shallow. It is somehow this loss of balance that is unavoidable, this dilution of the individual, this contamination, this complication, this loss of simplicity.

What is it an individual truly needs? What is it humans have also sought to find? A sense of purpose and a reason to exist meaningfully seems to be absolutely essential. Yes, man can exist without having a sense of purpose and a reason for meaningful existence, but it will deprive a human of who he is. There is a terrible deprivation in this day. In a time of so much abundance, why is there such a sense of emptiness! Is it not due to the loss of a glorious vision? Is it not because everything has become so common? Secrets are public, what is precious is out on the streets, and men simply seem to have lost all sense of greatness.

There seems to be no greatness left anymore. There is nothing worthy of admiration, and nothing left to inspire people. More than people, there is little by way of inspiration for the individual. After conquering the skies, the oceans, and land, one finds the loss of oneself to be the most depressing. For one who has not yet conquered anything, each one thinks that his victories would be greater than any previous ones. He thinks, by being a victor greater than all those in history, he will finally find what no one has ever found. Perhaps, what we are seeking to find out there is not out there. It was never out there. Something undiscovered and unrealized was always within a man. It was his own individuality, specially made by the Maker and Creator of all mankind. To not find what was always closest to oneself, that is a loss, wouldn’t you say?

Before more time goes by and the uncertainty continues about how much time there is left, it is important to open the door to the inner self. Find the individual. Before the man that is inside is vanquished by darkness, find the individual and preserve it. There may not be much reason, and not much that appears to make sense in the world around us, but the soul of man is always precious. The gold and grand architectures of the world might all be lost, but what is imperishable should be recognized, realized, and preserved.

What is the individual?  One might be inclined to believe that, an individual has a specific form and clearly defined characteristics. We would never fully know in terms of examining and defining the individual through the mind. The mind is so limited in understanding. We need concepts and definitions to give form to our understanding. There itself a barrier is created, for we get all our concepts and definitions from this world, from language, and from what others have to offer by way of opinions and messages. In all this confinement, the individual takes a form and we end up believing what our human limitation allows us to understand. Beneath the color of one’s skin, the hair, the face, the form of the body and all those attributes, there is what cannot be defined.

What is the nature of life, the animating force? The force that animates all creatures, be they animals, insects, or humans, it is the same force. There is something formless keeping alive all creatures. This formless power cannot be replicated or reproduced in any way by what we are capable of as humans. We have recognition of this power, but the respect for it we surely lack. The fascination with death and how easily we accept it now, enjoying the destruction of what is irreparable for us…we don’t appreciate life despite the abundance and permanence of death.

It is a subject of wonder, whether there is an inherent goodness in the animating force of all creatures. We would like to believe so. We would like to believe, there is something noble within us, even if it does not exist in others. What exists within us as energy does not have any intrinsic characteristics, but in combination with our faculties it does manifest in clearly recognizable forms. There are values we have understood to be signs of human goodness or badness. These ideas – love and kindness, for example – have been universally acknowledged to stand for what is good, while hate and anger have been understood to stand for what is bad. The individual has basically a certain good character in all humans, we would like to believe. We hope to appeal to that good character in humans when we communicate and build relationships with certain individuals. When we look toward entire crowds and societies, we hope to see that same goodness be manifested as we hope to find in an individual. However, the collection of humans somehow seems to change the way one person thinks and acts.

There is loss of freedom when humans collect together. Whether it is fear or support, the coming together of humans affects the person; in fact, each person in the collective. Does it affect the individual? In this case, if the individual is considered the formless and undefined inner reality of a person, one has to conclude that this happens. Individuals gather together whenever there is an opportunity for them to do so. What is coming together in such gathering is an energy. Yes, it is true that persons gather together on the basis of compatible ideas and common beliefs, but the gathering of energy when people come together is undeniable. This is what leaders seem to recognize and feel. This is also when a leader comes under the illusion of being a leader, for there are persons whose hearts and minds never were truly committed to certain ideas or beliefs. Whenever this happens, there is disharmony and a conflict of individual energies.

…the individual is…the formless and undefined inner reality of a person…

One wonders, what is it that the Creator of all things sees when he looks upon the earth, especially upon humans. He being the One who has put the force of life inside each person, must be able to identify in a unique way the energy of each individual. We sense that energy, but more than that we become familiar with the thoughts and feelings of people. We truly never understand the individual in terms of his inner energy. The worst is when we become so distracted by the external features and characteristics of a person that we altogether are blinded to the real individual. As long as a person is alive, there is an energy that is animating him. This fact should be absolutely clear: a living person is an individual, and fundamentally different from the dead person. After all, a dead person has all of the physical parts of a living person, but no life. He becomes just a body. The individuality goes away, and the dead body ceases to be an individual.

We live in a world that has seen merciless killings of persons by the millions. Perhaps, billions of people did not have the chance to live their lives and died of unnatural causes. Those causes were produced by the will and even the planning of certain ones. In a study of history, we come across names of killers and warriors. We despise one, but don’t hold back from praising and idolizing the other. It is, at this time, appropriate to think of a thing called war. War is the ultimate simplification of human thought. The action of starting a war and fighting it turns objectives of otherwise intelligent and sensible humans into actions for death. To “succeed”, the other person must be seen with enough hate and of such worthlessness so as to be convinced, he is the enemy. Once the mind is convinced to view another human or entire collection of humans as the “enemy”, war and killing become the most natural result. Options and choices disappear. The only objective is to terminate the enemy.

Something has fundamentally also changed particularly due to the ability to see time and humans from the vantage point that limitless information provides. The loss of the individual in the collective has happened. Take, for example, the ability to read thousands of messages on a social network platform in a single sitting. Such a thing was never possible before. However, this ability has changed the nature of human interaction, engagement, and attention. Individual loss in the collective is one consequence, but the loss of the individual to oneself is the other more serious result. This loss manifests itself in a sense of loss of self, and the esteem one should have for the self. An effort to feel special degrades into seeking and trying to find the approval of others, who are in the very same pursuit of finding approval from yet others. The resulting energy is negative. The individual is enslaved to seeking a reward which, even if achieved does not bring a nourishment to the soul. The hunger persists, the longing continues, and the pursuit does not end.

Detachment has arisen as the critical human need of the hour. This detachment will restore balance. It will reconnect one to the energy that keeps him alive, and possibly then also, to the Giver of this life. Matters of belief and what ideas to follow so as to find direction and purpose to the individual become secondary. One would surely be in a better position to discover truth when one is able to detach from the world and attach to the self, which was empowered by the One Creator.


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