Tag Archives: Buddha

Fragmented Beings

We call a human being an individual. But is he really? Consider what the word “individual” means. It is derived from the Latin “in-,” which means not, and “dividere” which means divide. So the word “individual” means not divided or undivided. But even a cursory look reveals that the human being is totally fragmented!

We have created a society where each of us plays different roles in the course of our daily life, each distinct from the other. We go further and purposely try hard to keep them separate, switching from one role to another as we move from environment to environment. These roles are nothing more than images we have constructed in our mind, built by the thoughts that fill it. If we observe our thoughts, pay attention to them, we become aware of the great variety of them appearing and disappearing in our mind: fragments from memory with no discernible relationship between them.

Even as I define myself as an individual, I am really not undivided. I am not whole. I am an unintegrated collection of thought fragments, memories. And because these fragments of thought have no relationship to one another, they are often contradictory and in conflict with each other. So the prevailing state of my mind is chaotic! When I, an individual, am not whole, how can my world be? After all, the chaos in my mind I act out in the world.

The problem of fragmentation and disorder affects both the common man and our so-called leaders. Thus, we all behave in contradictory ways, engage in conflict and hypocrisy. It is critical that each of us work to transform ourselves from fragmented beings, disordered and divisive, into whole beings, ordered and unified. This has real world implications on how we relate to one another in conflict and cooperation. It determines whether our change efforts succeed, whether we will live in harmony or discord.

External systems of rules and regulations can coerce behavior, but they cannot integrate the fragmentation inside the human mind. That work must be done by the individual. It can only be done by the individual. Even the gurus, priests, imams, psychologists, are fragmented beings. How can they guide you to becoming an integrated whole? No one can. Thus, as the Buddha said, “be a light unto yourself.” If the human being transforms himself, he transforms everything, i.e. if he changes, his world changes. If he does not, nothing changes.