The basis of reality

Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Self-knowledge is cultivated through the individual’s search of himself. I am not putting the individual in opposition to the mass. They are not antithetical. You, the individual, are the mass, the result of the mass. In us, as you will discover if you go into it deeply, are both the many and the particular. It is as a stream that is constantly flowing, leaving little eddies and these eddies we call individuality but they are the result of this constant flow of water. Your thoughts-feelings, those mental-emotional activities, are they not the result of the past, of what we call the many? Have you not similar thoughts-feelings as your neighbour?

So when I talk of the individual I am not putting him in opposition to the mass. On the contrary, I want to remove this antagonism. This opposing antagonism between the mass and the you, the individual, creates confusion and conflict, ruthlessness and misery. But if we can understand how the individual, the you, is part of the whole, not only mystically but actually, then we shall free ourselves happily and spontaneously from the greater part of the desire to compete, to succeed, to deceive, to oppress, to be ruthless, or to become a follower or a leader. Then we will regard the problem of existence quite differently. And it is important to understand this deeply. As long as we regard ourselves as individuals apart from the whole, competing, obstructing, opposing, sacrificing the many for the particular or the particular for the many, all those problems that arise out of this conflicting antagonism will have no happy and enduring solution; for they are the result of wrong thinking-feeling.

Ojai, California USA | 1st Public Talk 14th May, 1944