Q) I am confused about the difference between individuality and personality. What, if anything, is left of the individual after the exit of the ego?
A) Individuality is your essence. You come with it. You are born with it. Personality is borrowed. It is given to you by society. It is just like clothes, subtle clothes.
A child is born naked, then we hide his nakedness—we give him clothes. A child is born with essence, individuality. We hide that too, because naked individuality is rebellious, nonconformist.
Individuality is exactly what it means. It is individual. Personality is not individual. It is social. Society wants you to have personalities, not individualities, because your individualities will create conflict. The society hides your individuality and gives you a personality.
Personality is a learned thing. The word personality comes from a Latin root that means “mask”—persona. In classical drama the actors used to wear masks to hide their real faces and to show some other face. From persona comes the word personality. It is a face that you wear, not your original face.
When the personality disappears don’t be afraid. Then for the first time you become authentic. For the first time you become real. For the first time you attain to essence. That essence in India has been called atman, the soul.
The ego is the center of the personality, and the divine is the center of essence. That’s why so much insistence, from every corner, that the ego has to be dropped. Because you must know what you are, not what you are expected to be.
Personality is false. It is the greatest lie. The whole society depends on personality. The state, the church, the organizations, the establishments—they are all liars. Western psychology goes on thinking too much about the personality. That’s why the whole of western psychology is a psychology based on a basic lie.
In the East, we think of the essence, not of the personality. That which you have brought, that which is your intrinsic nature, swabhava, that which is your intrinsic essence—that has to be known, and that has to be lived.
Personality is that which you are not, but try to show that you are. Personality is that which, when you move in society, you have to use as a convenience.
You are walking and somebody passes by. You smile. That smile can be either from the essence or from the personality. The smile can really be a delight in seeing the person, in seeing the godliness in that person, in seeing the heart, the love, the formless, that has become incarnate in that person.
That’s why in India we never use phrases like “Good morning.” They don’t mean much. We say, “Ram, Ram.” We welcome each other by the name of God. It is a symbolic act: “I see God within you. Welcome. I am happy, blessed, that you passed.” If it comes from the essence then the smile spreads all over your being. You feel a deep content. You feel blessed that this person passed by. The person may be gone, but the blessing remains and lingers around you like a subtle perfume.
But you can simply say “Good morning,” because the man is a banker, or a political leader, or can be dangerous and it is risky not to say “Good morning.” Then you say it and you smile. That is persona. That is personality.
In each act you have to watch. It is arduous, but it has to be done. There is no other way. In each act you have to watch from where it comes, from personality or from essence.
If it comes from essence, the essence will grow, because you will give an opportunity for the essence to be manifested, expressed. If it comes from the personality, then personality will become harder and harder, and it will suffocate the essence completely.
Watch. Remind yourself again and again to watch. “From where does it come?”
If you come home and you bring ice cream or flowers to your wife, is the present from the personality or from the essence? If it is from the personality it is a lie. You may have talked to somebody else’s wife and you were charmed. You felt attracted, a desire arose in you, and then you started feeling guilty—“This is not faithfulness. So take some ice cream home.”
And remember: your wife will immediately suspect! Otherwise you never bring ice cream.
There must be something in it. You must be hiding something. Why are you so good today? So suddenly, unexpectedly good? You cannot deceive women. They have an instinct. They are lie detectors. They immediately feel first; they don’t think. Their feeling is immediate and direct. They function from the center of emotion. You are feeling guilty, and then you bring some presents to your wife. It is a gift from the personality. It is very dangerous!
A similar but opposite case can happen. The situation may be the same. You were talking to your friend’s wife. You were charmed. She was graceful and beautiful, and because of her beauty, because of her grace, you remembered your wife. Because when you love a person, every other beautiful person reminds you of the person. It has to be so. If the woman was charming, it immediately reminds you of your beloved. Something of the beloved was there—a part, a gesture. Something of your wife was there. You loved the woman in that moment because she reminded you of your wife. Then you are full of the memory. Then you may bring ice cream, or flowers, or something—or nothing, just a smile. Then it is from the essence. Then it is totally different. The situation may be the same, but you can behave in a totally different way.
Personality is an effort to deceive. Essence is an effort to reveal your being. Whatever it is, it is. Let it be revealed, and be open, be vulnerable.
Try to live from the essence, and you will become religious. Try to live by the personality and you will be the most irreligious person possible.
To me religion doesn’t mean a ritual. It doesn’t mean going to the church or the temple. It doesn’t mean reading the Bible or the Gita every day. No. Religion means to live from the essence, to be authentic, to be true.
And remember: In whatever way you lie, you cannot get away with a lie, because a lie is a lie. Deep down you know it is a lie. You may pretend that you don’t know, but your pretension will be there and that will indicate it. You cannot really lie to anybody, because anybody who has eyes, any awareness, any intelligence, will penetrate into it.
There was a court case. A woman was suing Malla Nasruddin. She claimed that
her child was Malla’s child. And he was denying it vehemently in court.
Finally the judge asked, “Say only one thing: Did you sleep with this woman, Mr.
Nasruddin?” And Malla said, “No, your Honor, not a wink.”
Your lies are apparent, because the truth has a way of coming up. It finds a way. In the end the truth is known, and you wasted your whole life in lies. Don’t waste a single moment. All the time that is wasted in lies is absolutely wasted. Andthrough lies nobody ever becomes happy. It is impossible. Lies can only give pretensions of happiness. They cannot give you true happiness. True happiness is part of truth. Hindus have defined God as bliss—satchitanand, truth, consciousness, bliss. Anand, bliss, is the final, ultimate core.
Be true and you will be blissful. Be authentic and you will be happy. And that happiness will be uncaused; it will be just a part of your being true. Happiness is a function of truth. Whenever there is truth, happiness functions. Whenever there is not truth, happiness stops functioning and unhappiness functions.
Don’t be afraid. You say, “I am confused about the difference between individuality and personality. What, if anything, is left of the individual after the exit of the ego?”
In fact, because of the ego, nothing of the individual is left. When the ego is gone, the whole individuality arises in its crystal purity: transparent, intelligent, radiant, happy, alive, vibrating with an unknown rhythm. That unknown rhythm is divine. It is a song heard in the deepest core of your being. It is a dance of the formless. But one can hear the footsteps.
Everything real arises only when the ego has gone. Ego is the deceiver, the falsification. When ego is gone, you are there. When ego is there, you simply think you are, but you are not.