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Individuality. Behind the mask. Beyond the labels.

Here’s a letter I got:

“Let’s face it, you joined a club, a religion, just like everyone else. You totally gave up your individuality You all believe the same things. You’re no longer an individual. And many of you all dress the same.

Here’s what I wrote back:

“You seem to value individuality very highly. But what you say in your letter destroys true individuality and defines people as nothing more than blank robots ready to be programmed.

According to you, a person has to be made into a individual by the clothes he/she wears, the music he/she listens to, etc. It’s the things we do that make us into the individuals we are; and if we don’t do the “right” things according to you,  we lose our individuality.

If I have to make myself an individual, then I must not be an individual to begin with. I must be some kind of blank slate who has to go out and buy my person hood, and wear my “individuality.”

You’ve turned individuality into something bought from thrift stores and hair salons.

Practicing being spiritually conscious, I don’t take individuality so cheaply. An individual is something I am, not something I become. Real individuality is not the clothes you wear, or the style of your hair. It’s deep inside the self-an in alterable, eternal reality.

Take 300 people. Give them all the exact same haircut, dress them all up in identical 3-piece suits and ties, and line them up against a white wall. That’s 300 people with exactly the same clothes and hair. But if you go and talk to them, you’ll find each one remains a unique person, a unique individual.

Our dress doesn’t make or break our individuality. A green vinyl spiked jumpsuit and purple beehive hairdo make me no more or less an individual than an orange robe and a shaved head, because individuality has nothing to do with external appearance.

Therefore, just because the Krishnas dress similarly doesn’t mean they’ve lost their individuality.

“But the Krishnas all believe the same thing. That makes them one big herd of sheep…”

I don’t get your logic. You’re saving individuality is preserved only as long as people disagree with each other? As soon as they all agree, they become a bunch of clones, a “herd of sheep”? That’s a philosophy that doesn’t work in the real world.

In math everyone believes 2+2=4. Everyone believes the same exact thing. Do you plan on writing to all the mathematicians, informing them that they’re all a bunch of mindless followers, a herd of sheep with no individuality?

Like math, Krishna consciousness is an empirically verifiable science, which deals rationally with the subject of spirituality. Thus it’s no more unusual for two devotees to believe the same basic things than it is for two mathematicians to believe 2+2=4.

A person’s individuality is not lost by becoming Krishna conscious. On the contrary, our true individuality will not fully manifest until we become Krishna conscious.

A devotee intensely loves individuality and personality, knowing that these qualities are two of the most essential qualities of the deepest self. But when we plunge into material consciousness, we bury that priceless individuality, mountains of ego, profiles, and false identities.

Mainstream society ‘educates’ us to live as if we are our bodies. This makes us objects, non-persons, non-individuals.

If I see the self as my body and I see the body as a collection of atoms and electrons, atoms and electrons are objects, without personality or individuality.Therefore I see myself as an object, without personality or individuality.

The body is a costume of the soul, a temporary character accepted in the fantasy-role-playing game of material life. To become Krishna conscious is to gradually rise above the confining illusion of bodily identification and uncover the true self, the real individual person – behind all the masks  and beyond all the acts.

Krishna consciousness does not take away individuality. It reveals the fullest potential of individuality by reviving the original spiritual identity.