I was asked the following question: How is it not possible to identify with something…all those beliefs and notions? I am wondering what life is like when you move past that.
To which I respond:
This is an excellent and important question. In the first paragraph, we will briefly review identity in a rather cosmic sense. Then we will speak of it more pragmatically.
This entire universe is built upon identity. When Consciousness viewed itself as ‘other’ and interacted with itself over and over again, the universe was born. Identity with the resulting structure is the foundation upon which this universe rests. The term “Maya” refers to the illusion. It is identity with the illusion that keeps this universe going; it keeps the world spinning around. Without identity, this universe would cease to exist. However, ultimately, there is no ‘other.’ It is all One. Sometimes people may despair over the notion that this is all illusion. But there is no need to despair. It is simple the exquisite and fine fabric upon which the beautiful universe is founded. Lovely!
We are all identified with our notions, belief systems, paradigms, philosophies, families, and way of life. The point is that identity exists on many different levels, from the Cosmic to the superficial. Oftentimes, such identities serve us. They provide a reference frame for our lives. They create many beautiful things for us.
On the other hand, many of our identities limit us. They limit our understanding of life. They narrow our perspective. I think most of us like to think of ourselves as ‘open-minded.’ But in truth, we are open-minded only to the extent our identities allow it.
To be free from identity does not mean that we abandon all identity on every level of life. If we did that, we would cease to exist in this physical universe. However, we can awaken to the level of life that is beyond any identity. We can awaken to the Transcendental level of our being that lies beyond identity… the level of pure Consciousness before it is even lost to the notion of ‘other.’ At that point, we have essentially two things going at the same time. At the depth of our being, we are free from identity. Yet, on the surface of life, we are still functioning through our identities.
This does not reduce, for example, our love for others. In fact, it deepens it. By seeing more deeply, we love more deeply. At the same time, we become free to see and move beyond those areas where our thinking is limited. We become more open-minded. We do not lose our balance when things occur that throw our belief systems into doubt. We are spontaneously ready to look beyond the horizon, so to speak. So, being awake to the level of life that is free from identity, on the one hand, enhances our love for, and dedication to, many things. On the other hand, being free from identity enables us to see beyond those beliefs, emotions, and convictions that limit, and do not serve, our lives.
So, as with all concepts (all terms, all notions), identity takes on a different meaning as we refer to it on different levels of life. Yet, all of those meanings are transformed once we awaken to the Transcendental depth of our being. This is something not fully understood until it is experienced. But hopefully this explanation sheds some light on the topic.
In the past, I have been inclined to describe it by saying: “Everything is completely the same, but totally different.” We still love. We still have our likes and dislikes. We still experience the full range of human emotions. None of those values are diminished at all. Yet somehow, miraculously, we are awake to a level of life that frees us from limitation, narrow vision, and, as we say, “It frees us from identity”. We become infinitely free, but totally committed. We become infinitely flexible, but totally solid—just as a tree’s roots are fixed solidly in the ground, yet the branches move freely in the wind. Yet at the same time, the fixity of the roots transforms the freedom of motion of the branches.