The Fantasy of Identity
Only the part or the fragment can have an identity and the part or fragment don’t actually exist. The part doesn’t exist because in wholeness there are no parts, and wholeness is all there is. Parts are created by thought, as David Bohm says – thought operates by dividing things up and in reality there are no actual divisions. We imagine that there must be, but that’s only because we are so very used to navigating life on the basis of thought. We never ‘switch our navigation system off’ and so we assume that the type of world thought shows us (which is a world that is divided up neatly into parcels) is the only world there is. How could we know otherwise unless we did switch off ‘the navigation aid of thought?’
We are all very keen to have an identity to cling to but this can hardly be described as ‘a healthy instinct’. If there is no such thing as ‘an identity’ then why am I so very keen to cling to it? This is like having a ‘love affair with an illusion’ but such an affair could only ever end in heartbreak! Having an identity is all about having a boundary – ‘this is me,’ I say, ‘and this is not me’. Unless I do this there can be no identity. We like to have a clearly demarked identity because we could then say ‘This is me!’ in an unequivocal way and this creates euphoria. This is what all euphoria (without exception) comes down to – the assertion of a self – but that doesn’t mean that what we have just asserted means anything (or that we have actually achieved anything) because it doesn’t and we haven’t. It just means that we have consummated our love affair with illusion! The flame burns bright for a moment or two, but then leaves nothing but ashes behind.
What this comes down to is the fact that we would rather have a crisply-defined identity that doesn’t exist then an undefined ‘non-identity’ that isn’t an illusion and which therefore genuinely partakes in reality. Somehow, the former state of affairs holds more attraction to us than the latter! This isn’t a choice that we consciously make but the bias is there all the same, even if it is a bias that we never examined, a bias that we simply ‘run with’ for as long as we are able to. Because having an identity isn’t a genuine achievement there has to be a price to pay, however. There’s always a price to pay when we do business on the basis of an illusion, needless to say! If we want ‘an easy answer’ then that’s fine, it just means that we have created extra difficulty for ourselves further down the line. We’re super-keen on easy answers for sure, but that’s only because we don’t see what comes later on.
The identity which we are so proud of isn’t any sort of ‘accomplishment’, even though we are acting as if it were. We’re taking it totally for granted that our identity is an accomplishment; this is what euphoria is all about – it’s a feeling of achievement or accomplishment that isn’t actually based on anything! Our starting-off position that we feel proud about our identity, we feel good about it, but there’s no accomplishment here (because there’s nothing there to feel good about, even though we do) there has to be some sort of reckoning further down the line, obviously enough. It doesn’t take too much intelligence to work out that this isn’t going to a good place! A fantasy journey is never going to take us anywhere real and so if we put all our hopes in this basket (as we do) then there’s bound to be a big let-down in store for us at some point or other in the proceedings. That’s an inevitability – euphoria incurs dysphoria just as ‘up’ incurs ‘down’.
The price we pay for unfounded hope is therefore bitter disappointment and so we have a set-up here where we get to feel good only to the extent that we also have to feel bad. Any false feeling of attainment is always going to come back at us in a reversed fashion later on and all attainments that take place on the basis of identity are going to be false – nothing can ever be attained or accomplished on the basis of an identity that doesn’t exist, after all. The situation where we only ever get to feel good to the extent that we also feel bad (or the situation where we can only be ‘hopeful’ to the extent that we will be ‘painfully disappointed’ later on) is clearly a null one. It’s a null situation because it always adds up to nothing! To expect anything else from a life that is predicated upon an unreal or phantom sense of identity would of course be entirely unreasonable!
We could say that the price we have to pay for taking euphoria seriously (as if it actually meant something) is the big ‘let-down’ that comes later on in the story, but we could also say that the ‘price’ is the fact that we are now tied into ‘living the life of the nullity’, which is not at all a pleasant proposition. How unpleasant this situation really is is something that we don’t generally have any insight into. To live the life of the nullity is to live the life of a complete laughable fool for whom nothing ever works out! More than this however, it is to live the life of a complete fool (or clownish person) who keeps on hoping that things will work out for them even though – from ‘the outside’ (as it were) – we can very clearly see that they never will. The clown gets to be a clown precisely because they don’t see this and because they take themselves so very seriously as a result. There is a joke going on here but we are not party to it. A trick is being played on us, but we’re far too self-absorbed and too self-important to see it!
All this is our inevitable fate once we opt to ‘consummate our love affair with the illusion’ (which is to say once we take up the life of the mind-created identity). This is our inescapable fate, and it is a fate that we cement into place every time we insist on believing that the accomplishments or attainments are real accomplishments or attainments (which we do all the time). When would we ever pass up on the chance to claim a virtual or identity-based accomplishment as being a ‘real’ or ‘genuinely earned’ one? No one questions success. Our whole aim in life is to notch-up as many feelings of satisfaction or accomplishment as possible – the more the identity can be validated the more ‘successful’ our life is, according to the popular formula, and this is a formula (a formula for living life) that we all subscribe to. If we can get our identity validated every step of the way then this is a life that anyone would envy, we say. The fact that the highly-prized validation of the unreal fragment is at the same time our ‘extraordinarily great disappointment’ later on in the story is something that we are all very happy to turn a blind eye to…
What are the chances that your blog will turn into a book?