Sadhguru, in conversation with noted fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani, discusses the self, and the process of consciously crafting our personality.

Tarun Tahiliani: I am trying to use the kriya as a process of self-nurture to become self-aware. Perhaps you can guide us in that respect?

Sadhguru: The self cannot be nurtured. It is so absolute that it does not need nurture. It cannot be transformed into something else, because what you call the self is also the basis of creation. If you are talking about your personality as a “self,” your personality does not need nurture either – it needs dissolution. In the East, the goal has always been to dissolve the personality. This is the fundamental difference between the Eastern and the Western approach.

I am not against the West in any sense. My point is just that you should not do anything compulsively – whether it is from the East or West. It must be by choice. For example, we have chosen to speak English now, because we understand we need to do what works for the wellbeing of the individual and the society. If I spoke Tamil, you would not be here now. But if I spoke English to be superior to someone else, it would be pathetic. If speaking English is a conscious choice, it is okay. This also goes for everything else – it has to be a conscious choice.

Going back to our topic, the self as the basis of creation does not need any nurture. If you refer to your personality as a “self,” this does not need nurture either.

Tarun Tahiliani: I think everyone interprets the word “self” differently.

Sadhguru: This is not a question of semantics. I am particular about the terminology because it should not leave any ambiguity. If you are interested in fixing yourself, first of all, we must clarify one thing – how many people are there in this body?

Tarun Tahiliani: One person, many selves.

Sadhguru: No. One person, many faces. For the purpose of clarity, I am trying to take away the ambiguity of language. How many people are living in this body?

Tarun Tahiliani: It’s just one person.

Sadhguru: The fact of the matter is, there is only one person, but this one person splits himself, according to your convenience. If you do something really worthwhile and fulfilling for yourself and people around you, you say, “I, Tarun, did this.” Suppose you do something nasty, you would say, “That was my ego.” But Mr. Ego is nonexistent – that is why you cannot fix him.

An individual is indivisible. Only if you realize that you are an individual, that you cannot be further divided, transformation is possible. You cannot fix people who split into ten whenever it is convenient. This is an ambiguity that people create in their minds all the time to avoid change. The whole world is into this trickery. That way, they don’t have to take any step towards transformation – they can just talk about it and leave it at that.

A personality is an artificial construction of bits and pieces that you have gathered. Since it is an artificial construction, if you don’t protect it, it will crack and fall down. This is the whole purpose of the spiritual process – everything that can crack and fall down should fall down right now. There is something within you that cannot crack, nor can it fall. Ultimately, any significant transformation can happen in your life or in anyone’s life only when the intelligence of the Creator is at play.

Your personality is your making. Suppose you put two children of the same parents through the same school and the same culture, they will still not turn out the same. That is why we say the way you are right now is your karma – your doing. Input might have come from outside, but what you have done with it is your doing. The way you are right now is made up by you, but you have forgotten that you made it up. If you knew you made up this personality, you could change it. Until now, I have changed my personality dramatically three times. Some time in near future, I may do it again. It will be a shocker for everyone.

If you had seen what kind of a person I was before the consecration of Dhyanalinga – in every way, not just in terms of clothes and appearance, I was different. People barely ever saw me laughing. I was burning with intensity because at that time, that was what was needed for this purpose. Once that was done, I said to people around me, “Now I am going to change my personality. If you suddenly think there is a new person here, don’t run away.” In spite of the warning, when I changed, a few people dropped out, because this was not the person they knew. For one kind of work, I made myself in a certain way. For a different kind of work, I made myself in a different way. What is the problem?

You can make your personality the way it is suitable for what you wish to do. But right now, the personality that you have created for yourself has become a compulsive process. Unconsciously, people create a personality for themselves. The question is not which is better, which is worse. The question is just – are you compulsively stuck to your personality, or do you consciously keep it at a little distance to yourself?

Tarun Tahiliani: We are compulsively stuck to many things.

Sadhguru: Yes – that is what needs to change. You don’t have to nurture your personality. You must hold it at a little distance. Like for example, when you wear loose clothes, you are always conscious that these are your clothes, not a part of yourself. Suppose you wore tight nylon clothes, after some time, it would feel like your own skin – you would lose the distinction between your clothes and you. If you keep a distance between your clothes and yourself, you do not get stuck to them. Similarly, you must keep your personality, your body, and your mind at a little distance. That way, you will be able to use all of them to their optimum, ultimate possibility, and they will never cause any grief to you.

Editor’s Note: This article is based on an excerpt from the February 2014 issue of Forest Flower. Pay what you want and download. (set ‘0’ for free). Print subscriptions are also available.