Personal Authenticity Expressing as the Individual's Uniqueness


Theme of the following quotations: Being reveals itself uniquely through each person. As children, we are socialized to become members of our culture. Without further psychological maturation, each person’s unique potential may succumb to conformity. Living authentically instead asks that we honor and reveal that unique potential.

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At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
German philosopher


But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect only once in this way and never again.
~ Herman Hesse (1877-1962),
German author,
in Demian


We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.
~ James Hollis,
contemporary Jungian analyst and author,
in What Matters Most


What struck me when I read that in the thirteenth-century Queste de Saint Graal, was that it epitomizes an especially Western spiritual aim and ideal, which is, of living the life that is potential in you and was never in anyone else as a possibility.

This, I believe, is the great Western truth: that each of us is a completely unique creature and that, if we are ever to give any gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our own potentialities, not someone else’s.

~ Joseph Campbell (1904-1987),
American educator and mythologist,
in The Power of Myth


On the quest for the Holy Grail, Campbell observed, each knight embarked on his own path into the dark forest, to embark on his own adventure, believing that it would be a disgrace to follow the path of another. The Holy Grail, a symbol for the culmination of spiritual realization, can only be attained, Campbell stressed, by the person who has lived his or her own life, not one who has followed the path of another. To attain the Grail, that is, you must become who you are, realize your unique potentiality, become a type unto yourself. For no one else exactly like you has ever lived before, no one exactly like you will ever live in the future.

~ Keiron Le Grice,
contemporary Jungian and archetypal scholar and author,
in The Rebirth of the Hero


In becoming fully human, we are called to be individuals. We are called to be unique and different.

~ M. Scott Peck (1936-2005),
American psychiatrist and author
in The Different Drum


Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual; you have an obligation to be one. You cannot make any useful contribution in life unless you do this.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962),
former first lady of the United States and humanitarian


The eighteenth-century German philosopher Johann Herder taught that each person has an original and unique manner of being human. The task is to develop it. According to Nietzsche, a person is known by his “style,” that is, by the unique pattern that gives unity and distinctiveness to a person’s activities. Style articulates the uniqueness of the self. Rather than fitting one’s life into the demands of external conformity, rather than living one’s life as an imitation of the life of another, one should look to find the authentic self within. One should labor to develop one’s own unique style in crafting one’s soul. An individual who denies her own individuality articulates life with a voice other than that which is uniquely her own. A person who suppresses his own self is in danger of missing the point of his own existence, of surrendering what being human means.

~ Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin,
contemporary Jewish theologian,
in Crafting the Soul


There is only one you in the world, just one, and if that is not fulfilled, then something has been lost.

~ Martha Graham (1894-1991),
American choreographer


Every person born into this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique. It is the duty of every person… to know and consider… that there has never been anyone like him in the world, for if there had been someone like him, there would have been no need for him to be in the world. Every single person is a new thing in the world and is called upon to fulfill his particularity in this world. Every person’s foremost task is the actualization of his unique, unprecedented and never recurring potentialities, and not the repetition of something that another, be it even the greatest, has already achieved.

~ Martin Buber (1878-1965),
Jewish philosopher
in The Way of Man


If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832),
German poet, dramatist, novelist, and scientist.


The wise Rabbi Bunam once said in old age, when he had already grown blind: “I should not like to change places with our father Abraham! What good would it do God if Abraham became like blind Bunam, and blind Bunam became like Abraham? Rather than have this happen, I think I shall try to become a little more myself.”

The same idea was expressed with even greater pregnancy by Rabbi Zusya, when he said a short while before his death: “In the world to come I shall not be asked: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ I shall be asked: ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”

~ Martin Buber (1878-1965),
Jewish philosopher,
in The Way of Man
~ see also the post, “Being Asked to Be More Yourself”


If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?

~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),
American author and naturalist,
in Walden


To be nobody-but-yourself
in a world which is doing its best,
night and day
to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight;
and never stop fighting

~ e. e. cummings (1894-1962),
American poet
in E. E. Cummings: Complete Poems, 1904-1962


If a person possesses any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his own mode of laying out his existence is best, not because it is best in itself, but because it is his own mode.

~ John Stuart Mill (1806-1873),
English philosopher, economist,
in Three Essays


A person is authentic in that degree to which his being in the world is unqualifiedly in accord with the givenness of his own nature and of the world.

~ James Bugental (1915-2008),
American existential humanistic psychologist,
in The Search for Authenticity


Become him who you are!
~ Pindar
(522 BC–443 BC),
Greek Poet,
quoted by Hollingdale in Nietzsche


Individuation is the forging of a transparent vessel – the authentic person who brings through what is beyond the person n a uniquely personal way.
~ John Wellwood
contemporary American psychotherapist and author,
from the essay, “Double Vision”, in The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy


Holy Origin shows me that I am connected to the Holy Origin and so is everyone and everything else. While everyone and everything is an expression of the same Source, each is a unique expression of that Source. No wave is exactly like any other wave; no cloud is exactly like any other cloud. When you understand uniqueness from this perspective, you realize that uniqueness is not specialness, nor is it based on separateness. This means that whenever you believe you are original, you are merely expressing the ego identity. What most people call originality is this expression, and most people believe that they are expressing themselves and being unique and original when, in fact, they are expressing their ego identity.

~ A. H. Almaas (1944-),
contemporary Kuwaiti American spiritual teacher
in Facets of Unity


~ Note: If you have found these quotes to be supportive, you may be interested in my book How to Be Yourself: A Guide to Living an Authentic Life which contains more than 300 quotations such as these which are organized into different topics related to authenticity. The book is available on Amazon in print and ebook format. (See top right cover image for a link to more info). ~

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