--> The world may not value our individuality, but we can and should - ISKCON Kolkata

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.

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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 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. For those who glamorize such product-centered individuality, we count not as individuals, but merely as statistics to boost their sales scores.

How can we reject such reduction? 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 can boost our calmness by gaining 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 spiritual individuals. We have been equipped with a psychophysical machine with 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.

When we thus ground our individuality in our spirituality, we can make tangible contribution, relish sublime satisfaction and attain life’s supreme destination.

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?

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