Chapter 22: The Distillation of Rebellious Spirits
The first question:
You have been speaking about the importance of being oneself. Could you talk about the paradox of being an individual and melting into the commune?
There is no paradox as such, as far as the individual and his melting into the commune is concerned. The question has arisen out of a confusion between two words: individuality and personality.
Yes, with personality there is trouble. The personality cannot melt into anything - into love, into meditation, into friendship. The reason is that the personality is a very thin mask given to the individual by the society. And every society’s effort has been, up till now, to deceive you and everybody, and to focus your attention on the personality as if it is your individuality. The personality is that which is given by others to you.
Individuality is that which you are born with which is your self nature: nobody can give it to you, and nobody can take it away.
Personality can be given and can be taken away. Hence, when you become identified with your personality you start becoming afraid of losing it. So anywhere when you see that a boundary has come beyond which you will have to melt, the personality withdraws. It cannot go beyond the limit it knows. It is very thin, an imposed layer. In deep love it will evaporate. In great friendship it will not be found at all.
In any kind of communion the death of the personality is absolute.
And you feel identified with the personality: you have been told that you are this by your parents, teachers, neighbors, friends - they have all been molding your personality, giving a shape to it. And they have made something of you which you are not and which you can never be. Hence you are miserable, confined in this personality. This is your imprisonment. But you are also afraid to come out of it because you don’t know that you have anything more than this.
It is almost a situation like this: you think your clothes are you. Then naturally you will be afraid to stand naked. It is not a question only of the fear of dropping the clothes, but the fear that if you drop the clothes there will be nobody, and everybody will see that there is emptiness, you are hollow within. Your clothes go on giving you substance. The personality is afraid, and it is very natural that it should be afraid.
As far as individuality is concerned, once you know your individuality. And my religion is nothing but a process of individuation, finding, discovering your individuality. And in that finding - this is the most important step - you discard personality, you take away the identity; you withdraw from the personality and you start looking at it from a distance.