Becoming a true individual is a long process and requires considerable effort: it is about becoming an authentic human being. If we make no effort, we become slaves to conditioning; we go through our lives half-asleep and slide down into darkness and ignorance. The work begins through the ego, which is why so much effort has to be applied. It must be done consciously and the individual opens the ego to change, simultaneous to constructing this individuality.
It is the first stage of yoga. In Sri Aurobindo’s words, “He has to work by means of the lower Nature, but aided more and more from above.”
The usual human being is like a caged animal, tethered to the past and a creature of habit that remains enslaved by the routines and motions of ordinary life, a victim of societal and environmental conditioning. The process begins from birth and during adulthood it becomes more complicit in building its own dungeon.
The reason for this is false identification. The human being is immersed in what are only his instruments: mind, life and body. He loses his true identity. This only reduces the effectiveness of the instruments themselves! The innate divinity gets shielded from our gaze and a thick crust proceeds and covers our true nature. We identify ourselves with the body and personality. But the conscious individual, however, centres his entire being in the Truth. It is not something that can be put into words. It is not really a list of attributes and qualities. One just ‘is’ and automatically knows when any action or thought is out of resonance. It is a spontaneous condition. It is the connection inside which facilitates this: there is something very true within and it is only this consciousness that can steer us back to our genuine source.
But humanity is conditioned into a herd mentality so it takes strength and courage to break free of the pack for the pack evokes safety and compromise. As long as one stays within the tramlines, one gets the accustomed benefits of the ordinary life. But it is this false notion which must first be shed if one aims to become an authentic human being. The true individual is and if one can recognise this, even for a few seconds, the momentum will be entirely reversed.
Amid the effort, there is a descending Force at work, moulding the personality into an individual. We need to give ourselves to this Force. If we remain open, it can go right down to the deepest cells of our body. Initially it works behind the scenes but as soon as we consciously experience its workings, its effect can be one of alchemy.
There is a process of inner alignment. We consciously watch our internal movements and gradually everything aligns. It is by a progressive harmony that a true individual is created. Individuality needs to be cemented and harmony is the glue that holds it all together. As the harmony becomes more perfect, a truer integer evolves. The aim is wholeness and this takes great persistence. Finally though, when this construction of will and effort is cemented, and it is surrendered to the Divine, no ego remains. This is the culmination of the Integral Yoga.