You want us to be individuals, but during work in the ashram we have to be very disciplined. Discipline and individualism — are they not diametrically opposite?
I would like you to be individuals, but not individualists. And there is a great difference. The individualist is not an individual yet. The individualist who believes in individualism is only an egoist. And to be an egoist is not to be an individual. Just the contrary: the individual has no ego, and the ego has no individuality.
The ego is such an ordinary phenomenon — everybody has it! There is nothing special about it, there is nothing unique about it. Everybody has the ego. It is so common! The uncommon thing is egolessness.
Only an egoless consciousness attains to individuality. And by individuality I simply mean the literal meaning of the word: individual means indivisible, individual means integrated; individual means one who is not many, who is not a crowd, who is not multi-psychic; one who has attained to unity, one who has become a crystallized being. Gurdjieff uses the word ‘crystallization’ for individuality. But the basic requirement for crystallization is to drop the ego, because ego is a false entity. It won’t allow you to be real; it won’t allow you to be authentically real. It won’t allow you to grow. It is false, it is a deception, it is an illusion. You are not separate from existence, but the ego goes on pretending separation.
And the other word that you have used in the question also has to be understood: discipline. Discipline does not mean anything imposed upon you. Nothing is imposed in this commune. If you enter this commune it is at your own choice. The doors are open — you can leave any moment. In fact, entry is difficult and we make every possible effort to help you to leave. Nobody is hindered from leaving, although every possible effort is made to hinder you from entering. Entry is very difficult.
If you choose to become part of this commune it is your decision — your readiness to commit yourself, to be involved.
Out of this decision a discipline arises. You can choose to get out of the commune, but once you are in the commune it means that you have taken a responsibility. And it is only through responsibility that one grows. By fulfilling one’s responsibility totally, growth becomes possible.
There are a few people here, only a few, who go on trying to deceive the commune. They are simply befooling themselves; nobody is befooled! They don’t want to work; they try to avoid it in every possible way. They find excuses, they even fall ill just to avoid work. But this is so stupid! You have entered the commune to work upon yourself. You have entered the commune to make a concentrated effort to become an integrated individual. You have entered the commune for your spiritual growth, for enlightenment. And if you avoid…and that seems to be the real question behind the apparent question.
You say, “Individualism and discipline — are they not diametrically opposite?”
They are not! An individual is always a disciplined phenomenon. One who is not disciplined is not an individual; he is just a chaos, he is many fragments. All those fragments are functioning separately, even in opposition to each other. That’s how people are ordinarily: one part of the mind going to the south, another part going to the north; one part saying one thing, another part opposing it. You know it! I am simply stating a fact — you can observe it. One part says “Do this.” Another part immediately says “No!” Something says “Yes,” and something immediately destroys it by saying “No.”
This is your situation! You are not an individual in such a situation, when you cannot even say a total yes or a total no? Your no is always halfhearted and your yes too — and you think you are an individual?
An individual means one who can function as a totality, as an organic unity. How are you going to become an organic unity? It can only be through conscious discipline.
That’s what Buddha is saying again and again: perseverance, effort, a conscious, deliberate effort to grow — and total effort, not lukewarm. You have to boil at a hundred degrees. Yes, sometimes it is painful, but it all depends on you, on how you interpret it. If you really want to grow it is not painful — it is tremendously pleasant. Each step deeper into discipline brings more and more joy, because it gives you more and more soul, being.
Discipline means readiness to learn; hence the word ‘disciple’, they come from the same root. Who is a disciple? — One who bows down, surrenders, and is ready to learn. And what is discipline? — The readiness, the openness, the vulnerability, to learn.
Entering into this commune you are entering into a buddhafield. It is a surrender, it is a trust! I am here to make you individuals, but you will have to pass through many, many devices. Many fires you will have to pass through, many tests. Only then, slowly, slowly, will you be welded into one unity. And you have remained a multiplicity for so long, for so many lives, that unless concentrated effort is made, unless you are attacked from every nook and corner, unless your sleep is broken in every possible way, you are shaken and shocked, the individual is not going to be born.
The work that is happening in the commune is not really what it appears from the surface. It is something else — it is a device! We have to use devices.
Somebody comes to me and wants to become part of the commune, and I say to him, “Go to Deeksha.” Deeksha is my device! I have given her total power — and I have given her total power because she is so loving, so soft, so caring. She wounds people, but she heals also. By one hand she hammers, by the other she consoles. She is a device.
And when I say to you, “Go and work with Deeksha,” and she shouts at you and in every possible way she provokes you, it is discipline to watch —- not to act in your old ways, as you have always acted. And she is so motherly that it is very simple to react to her as you have been reacting to your own parents. It is very simple that she will create a reaction in you that your mother creates in you. Mothers are intolerable creatures — and Deeksha is a perfect mother!
I know, it is difficult but growth is difficult. Many more devices are going to be created. You will be sent to many dimensions. No corner of your being has to be left undeveloped, otherwise you will become lopsided.
And the first principle of discipline is surrender. Apparently it looks contradictory, because that’s what you have been told: that if you surrender, then you are no longer an individual. And I say to you, if you cannot surrender you are not an individual. Only an individual can surrender. Surrender is such a great phenomenon, only a man of great will can surrender. It is the ultimate in will. To drop your will is bound to be the ultimate in will. To put yourself aside, absolutely aside, and to say to something such a total yes — which your mind resists, your old habits resist….
And sometimes you are right — and that’s where the whole beauty lies. You are right, and still you have to surrender to something which does not appear at all right logically.
Deeksha is crazy! You may be far more intellectual, far more rational — but you have to surrender to Deeksha. Her craziness is her quality — that’s why I have chosen her. I have got many more rational people: I could have chosen a Ph.D. who would have convinced you that he is right. But when you are convinced and you follow, it is not surrender. When you are not convinced at all, you see the apparent stupidity of a certain thing, and still you surrender, that is a great step, a great step of getting out of your past.
This commune is a lab, this commune is an alchemical process. You come here as a crowd and I have to weld you into unity. Much hammering is going to happen, and you will come out of this whole process as pure individuals.
Discipline is the way to create individuality. But remember: to be an individual is not to be an individualist. Individualism is an ego trip. And the people who believe in individualism are not individuals, remember — remember well. Deep down they know they are not individuals, hence they create a facade of philosophy, of logic, of argument, because deep down they don’t feel they are individuals. They pretend on the outside that they are individuals — they believe in individualism. Believing in individualism is not becoming an individual. Belief is always false.
When you are an individual you need not believe in individualism. When it is a truth of your being, belief is not needed. Belief is needed only to cover things: you don’t know about God and you believe in God. The believer is an atheist. He may be a Christian, a Hindu, a Mohammedan, a Buddhist, it doesn’t matter: a believer is an atheist. He does not know about God, and still he believes. That means he is even trying to deceive God! He is a hypocrite, he is a parrot. […] The believer is a parrot. The believer knows nothing. The believer is an atheist in disguise. He is trying to befool himself, the world and even God.
The man who believes in individualism is not an individual. The man who is really an individual need not believe — he knows it, so what is the point of believing? Belief is always needed in ignorance, and individualism is a belief. To be an individual is an experience! Individualism is very cheap, but to be an individual needs arduous discipline. It needs great perseverance, work, watchfulness. It comes only out of years of effort in awareness, in meditation.
And whatsoever is happening here in this commune is nothing but different ways to introduce you to meditation. In the kitchen, in the carpentry shop, in the soap workshop, in the boutique — whatsoever is happening, apparently it looks as if it is the same ordinary thing as happens everywhere else. It is not. If you go and see the carpenters working, of course they go on working like any other carpenters anywhere else — but with a different quality. That quality cannot be seen. You will have to become a participant, only then will you slowly feel it. That quality is of trust, love.
My sannyasins are here because they love me, for no other reason. They are simply here with me to be here with me. For the sake of being here with me they are ready to do anything. But whatsoever they are doing is only the outer part. You will see the body of the work but you will not be able to see the spirit of the work. For that you will have to become a participant.
And, it seems that you are still a spectator. Maybe you are working in the commune, but still you have not become a participant — otherwise such a question would have been impossible.
Excerpt from The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol. 1, Discourse #6
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