Is Dissolving Individuality Overrated?

There are faith traditions in the world that teach that our individuality, our bodies and personalities, are sources of human suffering, and as such, are things to be overcome or transcended.  For example, Buddhists refer to the five factors or the five aggregates of individuality as root causes of suffering.  They encourage people to stop saying “This is mine” and “This is not mine.”  They encourage people to contemplate what their faces looked like, before their parents were born.

The temptation to look at other individuals and think “I’m better than that person,” or “That person is better than me.” lies at every turn.  As soon as someone starts going down that road, they will suffer sooner or later.  But what if individuality has a noble purpose, a godly purpose, the expression of life?  What if I was here so that life could squeeze something out of me that just wouldn’t get squeezed out any other way?

On the other hand, the temptation to look at other individuals and think “I like what life has expressed out of them better than what life has expressed out of me,” or vice versa, also lies at every turn.  It seems to be important to get out a lot, to experience a wide variety of expressions of life, to have full appreciation for its infinite variety.  It also seems to be important to experience the suffering that comes from yielding to the temptation to judge various expressions of life, so that one thinks twice before judging.

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One thought on “Is Dissolving Individuality Overrated?

  1. I would say that dissolving individuality is overrated, unless you are attaching a qualitative tag to it. By that I mean, that individuality has its merits if it is not assessed from a qualitative viewpoint, “better-worse,” “higher-lower,” and so on. If we could look at other individuals and appreciate what they express without comparing it to our own expressions of life, I think we would be doing ourselves and everyone else a greater justice. I think this Step 12 is saying that each individual has something valuable to contribute to the whole, their own unique expression, so I think the rhetorical answer to your rhetorical question, “What if I was here so that life could squeeze something out of me that just wouldn’t get squeezed out any other way?” is yes, I think that is why you are here.

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