Have you read any book of Ayn Rand? Her most popular books promotes the theme of individuality. Individuality has taken roots firmly now in hearts of most of us new world members. Today, it is all about individual silo dreams above all other dreams. 

Every individual is out jumping and shouting aloud trying to be heard and prove himself or herself above the rest. Modern families, societies and workplace not only approve but also encourage this behaviour and tendency. Seemingly, it drives economy and fuels economic growth. There has been giant strides and leap in technology. Now social media platforms allows each one of us to get instant access to many persons at same time. Despite this, most of us are sensing a missing or absent soul connection with world at large. Soul connection has indeed eroded. Instead such words are used with impunity for advertising (connecting people/connecting lives etc). Everyone today is extremely far from each other even if they are standing next to each other. Drive for Individuality has cut the roots of oneness.

Trump screaming for great America, or Modi screaming for great India, is no different from each one of us screaming for the “great me”. It reflects the individualistic mindset that is all about alienating others in the world from self (and instead replace it with a false sense of belonging with words saying -we are a team or we are in this together). The only difference is that the projected “self” is now at a national level rather than individual level.   

Lifestyle promoting nucleus family is also on the uptrend. Unlike the joint family, where we learnt to adjust and tolerate, with nucleus family one doesn’t learn or understand the value of adjustment, compromise and tolerance. To our modern mindset, these represent chains that affect the individual freedom. It is true that the individual freedom is stifled in a joint family. However, on flip side, each of the nucleus family member keeps expanding his or her idea of personal space and in the process becoming more and more intolerant, lonely and egoistic. One begins to also go overboard showing tendency of having turned into an ego-maniac.   What is an ego-maniac? When a person starts feeling that his or her ideas are the only ideas worth considering and starts expecting other members to accept this as the final word, this is all about ego. The intolerance and loneliness happen to be a bi-product of the ego-maniac mind. In joint family, where there was give and take – every person was responsible for managing others sensibilities and sensitivities. 

However our modern take with freedom meant that we didn’t have to accept other family member or head member’s view point. This led to most joint family going nucleus. This worked for a while to keep harmony.  Yet soon a new culture came in. In this modern household, the acceptance of one’s idea was dependent on the other person and his tastes or inclinations. As more and more ideas keep getting rejected in the family, the worthiness of us as a person got affected in our own mind. This in turn lead to some clutter in the mind-space. Usually the individual mind goes on an impulsive buying spree of unnecessary things (or eating) that attracts the mind briefly to make up for the missing mental pampering necessary for personal self worth. The physical clutter or things thus purchased adds to mental clutter after some time especially when others in the family also refuse to appreciate it. We then also try to fill up this vacuum by getting engaged in several activities (like yoga, sports, running, meditation etc) that is an acceptable practice of the society to connect us with other human beings. Unfortunately, in this emerging new world, where individuality is esteemed, if our self-image or ideas keep getting rejected or doesn’t find acceptance even in outside world, the self-worth goes for a complete toss. All this soon spirals downhill making one feel utterly miserable, lonely and low on self-worth.

Erstwhile when life was fast but not so fast, it was still possible for an individual to take a break and move into solitude amidst nature and get connected. Sadly, now even such trips are tainted with fast life concepts such as selfies and making a statement in social media of being amidst nature. The concept of being in nature for sake of finding a connection with oneself is brushed aside for ensuring that individuality is loudly proclaimed using the social media tools. Nothing remains sacrosanct. With all this little wonder that most of us end up feeling burnt, lost and lonely!

When two people are in love, it only takes a glance or whisper for the message to get communicated. This happens because the connection was strong and the mental distance between two persons was the least. With individuality asserting itself making every situation as “me versus her or him”, love withers and then shouting becomes necessary for being heard as mental distance keeps increasing (even when other person is standing next to us). When this concept is applied in all relations of the individual whether it is with the family, workplace, society or nation it is easy to fathom the mental scream and cacophony of noise that follows each one of us.

No amount of technology can help reduce the distance caused by the screams of individuality. These mental noises also makes one want to shrink back further away from everyone and everything to get a whiff of silence. Technology unfortunately has only helped each of us to amplify our individual needs louder making it a very loud and noisy world today. This in-turn has led to the confused soul to earn more money and seek more spacious homes with individual rooms (read: larger empty space) to cut out a mental scream that doesn’t seem to go away.

Self-love is also similar to first love between two persons. With self-love, one is intimately aware of the signals and message from one’s own body parts. The connection or “tuning within” is strong. When this connection is weak, internal signals are unheeded, and illness starts festering inside and manifests sooner or later on the outside. It takes a walk amidst nature to sometimes get “in-tune”.

Love helps lower barriers to communication because of connection. The connection happens whenever (even if it is only for a brief while) a person feels one’s own self intimately or in-case one has fallen in love with another person and one starts feeling that the other person is an extension of self. This is the best sign of love.

When this happens, the person becomes willing for what the individualistic mindset labels as “adjustment” or “compromise”. To provide a better understanding, imagine yourself out for the morning run as per a pre-planned schedule. If suddenly any small part of your bodily frame (say the calf muscle) finds discomfort (like sprain), do we still stick to the plan? Unless it is a competition, usually the body slows down trying to adjust based on the signal from a weaker part of the body. The mind accepts that it may not be possible to stick to the pre-planned idea and willingly goes for course correction based on reality of the situation. This may cause delays in further schedule planned for the day however all others are acceptable given the cry from a weak body part. The mind and body acts in the NOW to extend support to weaker member.  The sprained leg gets a unspoken message that nothing else is more important and there is an innate faith that things can and will improve. It is with this faith and support from the whole body that the sprained leg manages to reach a doctor although it feels the maximum brunt of the pain as compared to all other body members. This is self-love at its best.

Now let’s extend the above situation for 2 persons in love. When in love with another person, the same kind of adjustments works. There is a natural acceptance to changes in pre-planned schedule what an individualistic minds labels as “compromise”. The loving person doesn’t see it as compromise since for that person it is a mind and bodily adjustment to the given situation. It comes naturally. As the carrier of immense love, it feels natural to be giving instead of taking. Unfortunately, if the person is out of love (that happens often after years of marriage), this natural “tuning-in” fails and the individualistic mind asserts that this is compromise or adjustment an one has to “choose” between a notional action plan deemed right and trying to prove to world that we still love the other person. The person’s own soul signals are ignored. 

The individualistic mind weighs a futuristic punishment he may get (or futuristic reward he may lose) in other realms viz. society, workplace etc due to compromise for the sake of the partner or sometimes the mind may recall a past similar situation that led to disapproval/frown from workplace/society.  Actions that follow then gets prejudiced based on a “Future concept” or “past memories” and person is incapable or unaware of acting in the NOW.

A similar occurrence happens at an individual level, when after a fall or sprain, a scream from a localised part is unheeded. The body which is in the “NOW” may be trying to ensure immediate relief to the situation. Yet, this is jeopardized by the mind that sometimes moves into future or past just like the attitude of individualistic mind with another person. Such non-heeding usually happens when one operates from a competitive mode of showing off to someone who is around (based on past incident) or trying to prove to someone placed elsewhere (based on future concept). At times like this, the local source of hurt or pain is often not investigated urgently, and it manifests later again in a bigger form causing hospitalization of the person. Competition that is a bi-product of the individualistic mind is an important cause of being “out-of-tune”. Seeking approval of another person (who unwittingly is also living with an individualistic mindset) brings the competitive mindset that ends up destroying relations with self and with others.

In-case the pain of a partner is felt and action taken accordingly, it is labelled as “empathy”. This is nothing but a self-love that extends to encompass another person.

Love thus can be defined as seeing one’s own self in another person (seeing the other person as extension of one’s own self) and being “in-sync”. Self-love is all about knowing one’s body intimately and being in-tune with one’s own nature and body.  Love cannot demand it can only understand or empathize that stronger reasons keep the body part or other person from listening and abiding to the command or signals as per the original plan. Love flows from a source of strength to area of weakness naturally without any compunction like water moving from higher level to fill up the lower levels until equilibrium is reached. When we resist this flow, we are creating dams in our mind and this resistance brings pain. What we need to understand as individual and be mindful in every moment is whether our level of love is strong enough or weak at that moment and flow accordingly. Sometimes we may need love ourselves but more often we can be the giver of love.

If you were able to comprehend all the above till now, try to imagine that we are all extension of a single source- a “higher power” or “GOD”. This would mean that we are all “out-of-tune” parts of a whole. The other person who is seemingly cruel or hateful from your perspective, or the person who is annoying and irritating is just another lost soul who is screaming aloud because he is out of tune inside, in pain and is trying hard to be heard. You notice that the things you disliked or hated may be necessary for either you or if not you for someone else and that someone else is as necessary for the growth of the whole as you are. For eg: there is no difference between the mosquito sucking our blood to survive and our uprooting plants for our own consumption. Mosquito is as innocent as we are in our action or as guilty as we are. With this wide perspective, it suddenly becomes foolish to judge other person’s actions and behaviour in any given situation. As the awareness of interconnectedness increases, and understanding dawns, it is easier for one to re calibrate internal wiring to allow love to blossom due to an emptying of the individualistic mindset. This is what surrender is all about. Grace is nothing but the filling up of the space created due to emptying of the individualistic mindset with love. With blessing of our Gurus, may we all grow together!

“A mind occupied with its own images, its gods, its achievements, It’s desire to become something, such a mind has no space, A mind that has no space must inevitably be violent and unrighteous” # J Krishnamurti