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INDIVIDUATION – Embracing our own selves

TRILOGOS Monthly Impulse | No 7


                                                                                                                  You cannot teach a man anything, 
                                                                                                 you can only help him find it within himself.

                                                                                                                                                                      Galileo Galilei



Dear TRILOGOS participants,

The longing for self-knowledge seems to be deeply rooted in our being. We yearn to understand ourselves, to experience ourselves and to find ourselves again and again. In a world where everything is changing, we look for security and support in ourselves … only to find that we too are changing.

The word individuality, in the sense of a single, individual being with peculiarities that distinguish him or her from others, did not appear until the eighteenth century. The process of individuation is quite recent in our culture, having traditionally been viewed with suspicion and often—even to this day—confused with egoism.

Nowadays we experience the luxury of being free to search for our self regardless of our social position, profession or gender. However, this doesn’t mean that the process is easier to go through today!

We each have to tread this path ourselves, and inwardly, on our own. In other words, despite ubiquitous offers and courses for self-development, self-knowledge and self-discovery, no one can absolve us from engaging in the introspection, the work on ourselves. Nobody can do it FOR us.

Inner processes need time and space. Self-development is a lifelong process, so much so that is is part and parcel of the meaning of life. At the same time, we humans experience ourselves to a great extent in the mirror of each other. 

By doing and acting (or refraining from action), we determine again and again where we’re at in our lives. It serves us as a reality check for determining whether our self-perception regarding our level of development holds up in the face of our outside world.

Self-development is about recognizing yourself. A human being is an energy field of vibrations of different frequencies, shaped by his or her experiences, beliefs and actions. This energy field contains everything that makes us who we are.

However, the “customization” of this energy field to our individuality also makes it extremely difficult for us humans to see the whole picture, the bigger picture. We look at the world with an individually created filter that has us rejecting other points of view and clinging onto our reality and defending our world view with all vehemence. It is the stuff of wars.

This predicament is well encapsulated by the enduring fable from India about the blind men and the elephant.


Parable of the blind men and the elephant

Once upon a time, there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said, “Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind … and show them an elephant.”

“Very good, sire” replied the servant, and he assembled there, “Here is an elephant,” and to one man he presented the head of the the elephant, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant. When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and  said to each: “Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?”

Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, “Sire, an elephant is like a pot.” And the men who had observed the ear replied, “An elephant is like a winnowing basket.” Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery’ the foot, a pillar’ the back, a mortar’ the tail, a pestel, the tuft  of the tail, a brush. Then they began to quarrel, shouting, “Yes it is! No, it is not!” “An elephant is not that!” “Yes, it’s like that!” and so on,  till they came to blows over the matter.



We’re all like the blind, each grasping only a tiny part of reality yet constructing a world view based on that fragment and defending that view against others.

In individuation, the point is to expand the image we have of ourselves by gradually advancing on our path of self-development. It is also about remaining open in this process and refraining from insisting on absolute terms, trusting that continuous expansion of knowledge about ourselves will lead to an expansion of ourselves and our consciousness. Overall, we all strive—and everyone in their very individual way—toward a fusion with AL(L)ONENESS.

As a result, we “sail into calmer waters” as it were, where we find peace not only within ourselves but also with the outside world. Even more, we will understand other people better and let them be as they are, including their world views. Indeed, this is genuine peacebuilding. It starts with ourselves, by setting out on the journey, on the path to ourselves.

May you embark on your very own path to yourself. May you tread it with courage, joy and enthusiasm, and may you embrace the precious and profound pieces of the puzzle that will surprise as you advance.


Linda Roethlisberger



PS:  Here you can find another blog post of the Trilogos Foundation on the topic of INDIVIDUATION, published in the eponymous NEWSLETTER in November 2020 and providing further associations.