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This term is used in theosophy in a special sense when it refers to the Higher Ego. A certain amount of confusion has arisen owing to the use of this and other words such as “ego” which have generally accepted uses and meanings not identical to theosophical terminology. Individuality here refers to that imperishable part of the human which consists of šTMš, (the lower sub-planes), BUDDHI, and MANAS (the higher sub-planes, i.e., the (CAUSAL BODY ).

Individuality — often termed “Individualization” — occurs when the MONAD, on its evolutionary journey through the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, reaches a point where it passes out of the animal into the human kingdom. Prior to that time, its consciousness manifests through what is termed a GROUP SOUL. But with human consciousness an individual soul (Sk. kārana-śarīra, i.e., “casual body”) is formed as a result of an outpouring of the life of the LOGOS, resulting in what would appropriately be termed an “individual.” During the monad’s passage through the mineral and plant kingdoms, consciousness is rudimentary and almost entirely influenced by its environment. As evolution reaches the more highly developed animals, consciousness is also developed as a result of sensory contact with the world. During this evolutionary process, fewer and fewer entities or bodies are associated with the group soul until there is a one-to-one relation between body and soul. Thus, upon entry into the human kingdom, self-consciousness, and with it intellect and personal choice, come to the fore. Thus humans have free will, which is lacking in the lower kingdoms, and with free will comes the action of the law of KARMA. Also, the evolutionary process is speeded up.

It is important to distinguish between individuality and personality. Individuality is the component that survives the death of the physical body, whereas the personality, except in those infrequent cases of rapid reincarnation, does not. That is the one reason why most people cannot remember their past lives.

When the CAUSAL BODY is formed, it is that which retains the essence, rather than the specific details, of the experiences of its previous incarnations. Furthermore, according to theosophical teachings, with individualization a human has, in a latent form, all three aspects of the Divine, hence, as the Bible puts it, humans are created “in the image of God” (Gen. 1.27).

See also Group-Soul.