So, then, what is individuality? Please understand that I am not laying emphasis on egotism, or on your getting rid of it. But when you understand for yourself the process of the "I", then there is a possibility of bringing it to an end. To comprehend this process you must begin fundamentally. Is the so-called soul real or an illusion, is it unique? Does it exist apart and exert its influence over the physiological or psychological being? Shall we, by studying the tissues and organic fluids, know what is thought, what is mind, what is that consciousness which is hidden in living matter? By studying his sociological behaviour shall we know what man is? Economists and physicists have left all this aside, and we, as individuals, we who are suffering, must go into this question deeply and sincerely. As we are dealing with ourselves we need great persistence, right effort and patience to comprehend ourselves. Physicists, economists, sociologists may give us theories, systems and techniques, but we ourselves have to make the right effort to understand the process of our consciousness, to penetrate through the many illusions to reality.
Philosophers have given out certain theories and concepts regarding consciousness and individuality. There are many conflicting views, beliefs and assertions concerning reality. Each one of us through introspection and observation realizes that there is a living reality concealed in matter, but it plays very little part in our daily life. It is denied in our activities, in our everyday conduct. Because we have built up a series of walls of self-protective memories, it has become almost impossible to know what is the real. As I said, there are many beliefs, many theories, many assertions about individuality, its processes, its consciousness and its continuity, and the choice of what is true among these varied opinions and beliefs is left to you. Choice is left to those who are not utterly in subjugation to the authority of tradition, belief, or ideal, and to those who have not committed themselves intellectually or emotionally to faith.
How can you choose what is true among these contradictions? Is the comprehension of truth a question of choice involving the study of various theories, arguments and logical conclusions which demand only intellectual effort? Will this way lead us anywhere? perhaps to intellectual argumentation; but a man who is suffering desires to know, and to him concepts and theories are utterly useless. Or is there another way, a choiceless perception? It is absolutely essential for our well-being, for our action and fulfilment, to understand what is individuality. You go to religious leaders, psychologists, and perhaps to scientists, and study and experiment with their theories and conclusions. You may go from one specialist to another, trying, according to your pleasure, their methods, but suffering still continues. What is one to do?
Ommen Camp, Holland
1st Public Talk 25th July, 1936