I And Mine: [01.12] - I And My Mind - Individual and Society

Published: 26.10.2005
Updated: 06.08.2008

I am thinking of a tree and a leaf, a sheet of water and a fish, a sea of water and a drop. The leaf owes its origin to the tree and, therefore, cannot have an independent existence. Neither the fish, nor the drop of water is born by the larger sheet of water. Neither of these two can exist independently, since the fish cannot live without water, and the drop cannot survive away from the larger sheet.

If one were to think of a suitable comparison between individual and society on the one hand, and any of the three dyads mentioned above, the closest fit of the former will be with the water drop and the sheet of water. Both share categorical commonness. The basic criterion determining the relationship between individual and society is in essence a common or the same class. There is a bond of unity between individual and society.

No unity is ever unprincipled or ungoverned by law. In an atmosphere of total dependence on society, the individual ceases to be an independent entity. Where such dependence does not exist, he can have a being of his own. This kind of independence belongs to the world of spirituality.

Money is both, expendable and capable of being bartered for it is material. This is not the case with spirituality. It inheres or is centred in one's being, and is altogether individual. As lightening reveals visible things, but cannot transfer its own light to them, spirituality too is not transferable, even though it can benefit others. Every individual is potentially great in terms of spirituality. As fire is instrumental in spreading the scent of incense, one spiritual person can be instrumental in bringing about spiritual awakening in another, but spirituality remains totally individual.

It is foolish to deny the existence of the individual in the name of society. The latter can be the centre of activities, but not of awareness. The individual in harmony with society generates strength; society in harmony with the individual proves beneficial. Treating the two in isolation will be a travesty of truth.

  • I And Mine by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj ji
  • Translated by R.P. Bhatnagar, formerly Prof. Dept. of English at Jaipur University
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition, 1995

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