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  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

The Building of a Positive Personality

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a well known democratic thinker of France. He was the upholder of the rule of the people rather than the rule of monarchy. He begins his famous book, Social Contract, with this sentence:

Man was born free, but I find him in chains.

But man is faced with another, perhaps more serious problem, and that is, conditioning. All men and women are influenced by their immediate environment. Because of this, their minds become conditioned, as a result of which they are deficient in right thinking. A person is not therefore able to think realistically. In view of this problem, we need to rephrase Rousseau’s dictum: Man was created on the pattern of divine nature, but I see him psychologically conditioned.

When a child is born out of his mother’s womb, he appears to be the embodiment of innocence. It seems as if an angel has taken the form of a human body. At the time of birth, man’s mind is pure. His thinking is as natural as it ought to be.

But man is a social animal. He has to spend his whole life in society along with other people. Because of this, he continues to receive external influences at all times. This is known as conditioning. This influence goes on increasing until a time comes when he becomes conditioned to the ultimate degree.

When one reaches adulthood, i.e. the age of maturity, every man and woman must make an effort to understand this conditioning, and by de-conditioning one’s mind, one should take oneself back to the natural state in which one was born. Instead of being an artificial person, one should become a man or woman whose nature is in its pure, pristine state.

The conditioning of the environment acts as an artificial veil over the real man’s eyes. The human personality is like an onion. Inside the onion there is a kernel-like structure of the size of a pea. Over this internal ‘kernel’, there are a number of external covers wrapped around it. When one removes these covers one by-one, the inner ‘kernel’ will be revealed. The same is true also of a human being. Because of the environment, the human personality becomes shrouded in artificial veils. Once these are removed, one’s real personality will come into the open.

De-conditioning is another name for removing the external veils covering the human personality. For one who is a seeker of truth, it is incumbent upon him to remove all the artificial veils by means of de-conditioning so that his real personality may come to the fore.

According to religious teachings, as a human being is God’s special creation, he is born with a divine personality. As to his inner existence, he is a perfect, complete personality. The essential condition for eternal success is that a person must first of all guard the personality he was born with and that he should strictly adhere to the natural state in which he has been created by God. De-conditioning is another name for this struggle entailed in self-building.

The search for truth or the discovery of truth are both the acts of a positive personality. It is, in actual fact, a positive personality which serves as the proper soil in which to grow the noble urge to search for the truth. And it is a positive personality which, because of its sound thinking, ultimately reaches the stage of discovering the truth.

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