Individuality and Personality


Question: Sir, when it is said that ‘Individuality is nothing’, then how is it correct to say that ‘Individuality is being yourself with self-awareness’?

Acharya Prashant: Very pertinent question.

At the root of the question lies image-formation.

“When we say individuality is just nothing, then how is it appropriate to say that individuality is being yourself with self-awareness?”

Whatever we say, we create an image of it. So, even when it is said, ‘Be yourself’, you mean ‘be something’. Be what? Be yourself. And that yourself is something. It is impossible for the mind to conceptualize nothingness. And that is the problem you are facing — If individuality is being yourself then how can individuality be nothing? Because I am something. So, how can individuality be nothing?

Do you realize her question?

She is saying, how can you reconcile these two statements — One says, ‘Individuality is nothing’. And on the other hand, Sir, you also say that ‘Individuality is being yourself’. Now, whenever I say – being myself – I have an image of that; some image of that. But you are also saying individuality is nothingness. Now, how can these two go together? The whole thing is, being yourself itself is nothingness, because you are nothing—

The whole thing is: Being yourself itself is nothingness because you are nothing—Anatta.  You don’t have a self. You aren’t that self.

You don’t have a self. You aren’t that self.

Difficult to grasp, right?

It appears just too abstract that ‘How can I be nothing?’ On one hand, you say individuality is the real me – which is very correct. When somebody says that you are an individual, that your reality is individuality, the fellow is saying absolutely the right thing. And the same fellow says, after taking a breath, says that individuality is nothing, he is still saying the same thing.

But probably, we cannot put it this way. Let us put it another way.

Individuality is not something specific. Now, it will be more acceptable that whatever you can think of as yourself is just Personality. So, do not ask, ‘What is individuality?’, just stay put it this way that, ‘Whatever I think of myself is just personality. What is individuality? Let’s leave that for a while.

Or you can put it this way:

Personality is impure you;

Individuality is pure You.

When all the dirt is wiped off from your mind, then the clean mind that remains; the clean transparent mind that remains is Individuality.

You can put it this way: Instead of saying it is nothing, just say that it is the purest end of you; it is the cleanest, purest, untouched, uncorrupted end of you — that will be more acceptable.

Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Individuality and Personality 

Further Reading:

Milestones to Success

mtsWhile innumerable books have been penned down by contemporary motivational speakers and writers on success, ambition, motivation, positive thinking and accomplishments; very few books, if any at all, have talked of what success actually is and how it is different from a socially-defined set of parameters.

Author’s genius lies in the fact that he has very simply answered the most intricate and complex questions that arise in the mind of every student and working professional, giving clarity on success, a topic that haunts them perpetually.




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