The world may not value our individuality, but we can and should
Each one of us is an individual, with our own strengths and weaknesses, interests and blind spots, aspirations and anxieties. The constellation of all these makes us who we are – it underlies our individuality.
Unfortunately, our individuality is threatened by today’s culture of machines, mechanical behavior and mechanistic thinking. In workplaces where we interact more with machines than with people, we gravitate toward treating people mechanically and seeing the world mechanistically. This trio of things, doings and thoughts — machines, mechanical behavior and mechanistic thinking — erodes our individuality.
But isn’t our individuality fostered by the culture’s mantra to “be yourself”? Not necessarily. The culture charts predictable ways to express our individuality: buy, wear and do whatever is fashionable. Those who glamorize such product-centered individuality are commercially driven; for them, we count not as individuals, but merely as statistics to boost their sales scores.
How can we reject such reduction of our individuality to a statistic? By refusing to look at the world for validation, and instead looking within to understand our deepest values and purposes. When we strive to contribute accordingly, we manifest our individuality in a way that fills our heart, not empties our pocket.
To look within, we need spiritual self-understanding. Gita wisdom explains that we are spiritual beings, who are eternal parts of the supreme spiritual being, Krishna. Just as Krishna is a spiritual individual, so are we. Each one of us has been equipped with a psychophysical machine that has its own typical characteristics. The Bhagavad-gita (18.45) urges us to work according to our individual nature; by such individually customized work, we all can attain perfection. When we work in awareness of our indestructible spirituality, the resulting security keeps us purposefully focused, despite the world’s temptations.
Being thus focused, we all make valuable contributions, whether the world values them or not.
Think it over:
- How does the world devalue our individuality?
- How can we avoid being reduced to a statistic?
- How does spiritual self-understanding foster our individuality?
18.45 By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done.
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