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Read more about Individualisation from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

What is Individualisation

Individualisation has a two-fold definition It refers to the process of evolution from collective ego to an individual ego, and then ultimately from the individual ego to one’s true individuality. It is the capacity to take up all experiences and organise them around one’s true individual centre - the Psychic. [1]

The Process of Individualisation

The first state of one’s being is a state of an almost total mixture with all things from outside. Here there is almost no individualisation, that is, specialisation which makes one a unique being. One is moved by all the common universal forces, vital forces or mental forces, which act through one’s form. [2]

However, slowly from this state of being one begins to move towards the individual ego. At this stage the individual is able to stand against the mass currents and charter one's own course of development using personalised ideas and will.

This is a stage of mental individualisation where one gains the capacity for original thought and creativity and develops the capacity to influence and impact the surrounding mass consciousness. However, this ego individuality is still not the true individual, it is only a surface person, largely a mental construct. It is quite possible to get stuck at this stage and that is when one feels more and more disconnected with oneself. One gets isolated from the larger social life as well as the Nature and struggles against them for control and mastery. In its excessive development it become aggressive or leads to deep sense of loneliness and depression. Often, it is then one begins to look for one’s true individuality.

The true individuality is a unique expression of the universal Being. The true self is not the ego-personality, this created individuality, but a universal being in its relations with others and with Nature. It is a portion or the living-front of a supreme transcendental Spirit. [3] True individuality brings back the sense of sacred that permeates all things and reestablishes one's spiritual connection with the whole.

Organisation around the True Individuality

When one is sufficiently become the individual ego, one must organise what one calls "oneself" around the psychic centre, so that it would make a single, coherent, fully conscious being. As this divine centre is itself already consecrated entirely to the Divine, if everything is organised harmoniously around it, everything is consecrated to the Divine.[4]

Why Individualise?

It is the step before surrendering the ego. One can't merge one's ego in the Divine before becoming completely individualised. To be able to give oneself, to surrender, one must first exist, and to exist one must be individualised. The "I" or the little ego is constituted by Nature and is at once a mental, vital and physical formation meant to aid in centralising and individualising the outer consciousness and action. If one had the power of abolishing the ego ahead of time, one would lose one's individuality. When one has realised one’s own individuality sufficiently and has become a conscious, independent being, then one no longer needs the ego. And at that time one can make an effort to get rid of it. [5] [6]

To avoid the usual formidable collective influences. As long as one is not conscious of the Truth of one’s being, one is moved by all kinds of things. Collective thought and collective suggestions are a formidable influence, which act constantly on individual thought. What is extraordinary is that one does not notice it. The mass is always inferior to the individual. It is certain that there is a degree of individual perfection and transformation which cannot be realised without the whole of humanity having made a particular progress. One cannot isolate oneself completely. It is impossible, even if one isolates oneself physically, to do so vitally and mentally. There is the vast terrestrial atmosphere in which one is born, but then there is a sort of spirit or genius of the human race as well. This genius must have reached a certain degree of perfection for anyone to be able to go farther. It is, thus, it is essential to individualise and reach the heights of individual genius and perfection. [7] [8]

How to Individualise?

Moving Beyond the Superficial Individualisation - Ego

And yet even our ‘genius’ is only a superficial formation, the surface world-being. Behind it there is a consciousness, a Purusha, who is not determined or limited by his individualisation. One’s individualisation exists not just by virtue of the world-being, but also by virtue of a consciousness which uses the world-being for experience of its possibilities of individuality. These two powers, Purusha and his world-being, are both necessary for one’s present experience of individuality. [9]

When one has passed beyond individualising, then one shall be a real Person. Ego was the helper; Ego is the bar. To begin with, a tremendous labour is required to individualise oneself, and afterwards one must demolish all that has been done in order to progress. [10] [11]

The more conscious and individualised one becomes, the more one begins to think that one is here not without reason or without purpose. One realises suddenly that one is here because there is something to be done and this something is not anything egoistic. Once one knows a little, one can find their own method, if one has the genius for it! But first one must stand on one's own feet and know how to walk. Therefore, one needs education. An individualised mind is extremely rare, and comes only after a long education. [12] [13] [14]

Individualisation, Rebirth and Integral Yoga

From an integral yoga perspective, the Psychic is the true support of our individualisation; the ego is only an outward false substitute. The psychic is the secret soul that supports and holds together one’s self-experience and world-experience. The mental, vital, physical, external ego is a superficial construction of Nature. It is only when one has seen both one’s self and nature as a whole, in the depths as well as on the surface, that one can acquire a true basis of knowledge. [15]

The psychic being at its origin is only a spark of the divine consciousness and it is through successive lives that it builds up a conscious individuality. It is a progress similar to that of a growing child. For a long time, in most human beings the psychic is a being in the making. It is not a fully individualised, fully conscious being and master of itself and it needs all its rebirths, one after another, in order to build itself and become fully conscious. But this sort of progress has an end. There comes a time when the being is fully developed, fully individualised, fully master of itself and its destiny. When this being has reached that stage and takes birth in a human being, that makes a very great difference: the human being, so to say, is born free. The being is not tied to circumstances, to surroundings, to one’s origin and atavism, like ordinary people.

The being comes into the world with the purpose of doing something, with a work to carry out and a mission to fulfill. From this point of view such a person’s progress in growth has come to an end, that is, it is not indispensable for them to take birth again in a body. Till then rebirth is a necessity, for it is through rebirth that one grows; it is in the physical life and in a physical body that one gradually develops and becomes a fully conscious being. But once one is fully formed, one is free, in this sense that one can take birth or not, at will. [16] [17]

Content curated by Naveen Vasudevan

Read more about Individualisation from the works of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.