What is Originality?

origin, roots, old tree, digital, astitva

What is originality can be understood only when we understand what is genuineness and what is authenticity. On the surface, all these three words appear to be synonymous with reality. In fact, they are the aspects of reality; yet they are different in their own senses, and there is a certain interconnection between these words.
What is genuineness? To be genuine simply means to be natural, to be real, to be connected to our roots. Etymologically speaking, genuine means that which comes from its roots. Genuine means to be what we are, to exist in our own pure essence, to take away all the masks. Genuineness simply means to be one-faced. Genuineness can be simply defined as the quality of having one face. And one who is genuine is naturally authentic, because he then has his own authority. Whatever he says is true, whatever he says is real, honest. The truthfulness and honesty are not products, they are just byproducts. A genuine person is self-dependent as he doesn’t have to seek any outside authority, his own essence tells him the difference between the real and the unreal, the truth and the untruth. So, a genuine person acquires authenticity naturally. And he who is authentic is simply original because he has discovered his own original being. Whatever now comes out of that original being will be original, whatsoever comes. No matter whether an idea has been repeated hundreds of times, has been thought of by hundreds of people around the world, but the same idea will have a different quality, a very different individuality to it because of the very fact that it is coming from a very genuine person. It will have its own authority, and therefore, a unique originality. This is the process from genuineness to authenticity to originality. Hence, one who wishes to be original must be genuine.
Are we genuine people? Very few of us can claim it. Most people have two faces. There are others who have countless faces. They show one face to you and they show another face to others. Because of this masking, because of this artificiality, we have lost genuineness. Why do we have so many faces? Because we are disconnected from ourselves. The more distant we are from ourselves, the more unreal we become. This being unreal is inevitable for the simple fact that one who doesn’t know himself can never be real. How can he be? There is no possibility. There is absolutely no possibility! If we do not know ourselves, whatever images the world will create about us, whatever truth, whatever perceptions we will frame about one thing or the other will come from the outside. The world will create us if we fail to create ourselves. How can the world create us? If we do not know ourselves, who else can know us? And the world is full of people who themselves do not know anything about themselves. So, ignorant people are going to tell you who you are, blind people are going to describe who you are.
To be genuine simply means to come close to yourself, to become familiar with yourself, to know yourself, to create a bonding with yourself. Some of us feel that yes we know ourselves; but that too is unreal because in that knowing, the other is always present. For example, if the world believes that you are a very lazy person, just as a reaction to this opinion you start pretending that you are active. You will do all sorts of things to appear active. In this case also, there is no genuineness because it is the world that is forcing you to be active, you are not genuinely active. Deep down inside, you may still be lazy; but outside there is a show of activity. A genuine person is never bothered about the judgment of others. Not that he is closed, not that he is adamant or unwilling to see truth; but he can simply see the difference between a judgment and a healthy advice. He is ready to learn from others’ experience, he is ready to receive others’ wisdom; but as far as about others’ judgment, he simply throws it away.
In order to be genuine, you have to be self-centered, intensely self-centered. Certain words have been misused, abused, they have been so badly criticized that we have actually forgotten to see their deep meanings. Self-centered is one such word. Self-centred persons are generally criticized as unsociable. What is wrong with being self-centred? Self-centred simply means the person is centered in himself, he is rooted. And there can be no deeper bliss than to be self-centred. In fact, being self-centred is the sommum bonum, the raison d’être, the ultimate aim of one’s life. It is only the de-centered human beings who are in misery. But these de-centered masses try to create a kind of falsehood around themselves, a false feeling of community that they call society; and then they start criticizing the self-centred. There is nothing wrong with being self-centred. Only a self-centred person can be genuine. Therefore, try to be centered in yourself. That is the first step towards originality.
Once you are centered, you will know that you have your own authority, you have your own eyes to see things. Then no matter how contradictory your ideas, your opinions about one thing or the other are, you will never bother. One who is authentic is self-dependent. It certainly doesn’t mean that he is egoistic, that he is so full of himself that he refuses others’ advice, that he considers himself the wisest man in the world, and looks down upon others. Being authentic doesn’t mean this at all. It simply means that he knows what he knows. It hardly matters to him whether his opinions are in contradiction with the accepted beliefs. He knows deep down inside that he is at ease with himself, he is perfectly consistent with his own self, and his self is all that matters to him.
Etymologically speaking, authentic comes from ‘autos’ and ‘hentic’. Autos means self and hentic means doer. An authentic person is a self-doer. He is guided by his own self. He is a self-taught man in the sense that now his inner self has become his ultimate, unquestionable authority for him. And once he knows his inner guide, he feels a bursting of originality. It is not only about writing a poem or just creating a piece of art. Everything becomes original for him. For the first time he realizes what originality is. Even the very way he walks is original. Every movement of him becomes original. Remember, originality is not limited just to ideas, just to creating new plans, new designs, new sort of architecture, new machines, new poems and songs and compositions. It is everywhere. It might sound very absurd to you, but once you become genuine you will feel that even the way you brush your teeth is very original, and you will realize it. You will see originality everywhere. Generally, originality means something that is new, real, and unthought-of. However, the Bible says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” It means that everything has already been said and created. All the ideas, no matter how revolutionary, however state-of-the-art techniques, however innovative, however unique, everything has been existing all along. All knowledge is a rediscovery, and when I say rediscovery I want to bring it to your notice that others too have discovered it. But because they have discovered it doesn’t mean they have a copyright to it. In the world of experiences, particularly spiritual experiences, there is no copyright issue. There is no patent office where you can just go and get your ideas patented. If that were so Krishna must have been punished for copyright violation because when he asserted aham brahamsmi, when he talked about ‘chetna’ consciousness as the ultimate reality, much before that Ashtavakra had already proclaimed the existence of consciousness, and in Yoga Vashishtha everywhere consciousness has been talked about as the ultimate reality. You cannot apply the rules of this world copyright & patent in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, originality simply means to rediscover. In the physical world also, it is said that there are no inventions, there are only discoveries. It simply means that whatever we create, a telephone or a machine, how does that machine function? All the matter, electromagnetic waves that are used in telecommunication, everything has already existed. Somebody has just tuned all those things together, compiled them in a right proportion, and something is born, a mobile is born. A certain matter was used in it, a certain frequency was used, and then you can exchange messages. It is just like a transistor: songs are there, channels are there; the moment you tune it, you receive signals. So all the inventions are just like tuning and receiving signals. Thus, everything is just a discovery. In fact, it is not even discovery, it is revelation. The deepest knowledge has come through revelation to us, to Mohammad, to the writers of the Upanishads, to Krishna, to the Buddha, to everybody. They all have claimed that it simply happened to them, it was gifted to them, it came to them; knowledge discovered them, they didn’t discover knowledge, and when knowledge discovers you it is a revelation. So from invention to discovery to revelation, we again see a pattern, like genuineness to authenticity to originality. And this revelation is again not limited to spiritualism. Even scientists sometimes have revelations. Einstein is said to have been a man of great intuition, so was Paul Dirac who discovered anti-matter, so was Richard Feynman who proposed exclusion principle. Down the centuries, it has been observed that greatest of inventions and discoveries have been possible not through conscious human efforts but through intuition.
Intuition and genuineness are interlinked. The more genuine a person is, the more intuitive he is. Intuition simply means to know through the core of one’s self, and a genuine person is very close to that core. Once that core is active, knowledge simply comes through intuition.
Therefore, originality can be achieved only through refining oneself to the degree that one is genuine. Secondly, the key to knowing whether an idea is original or not is just to observe whether it has come through intuition as a revelation.

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