It can be said that personal identity is nothing more than a construct of thought patterns that are believed to define a picture of oneself. They represent uninvestigated beliefs that became internalized based upon one’s history of sensations, experiences, conditioning and emotions. Our self-judging mind, influenced by the values of friends, family and society, has compiled various identities that feel compelling because they have the characteristic of making us seem safe, or part of a group, and that often cover up hidden forms of our feeling deficient or inadequate. These are simple everyday identities and may be based on ideas about money, fame, family, intelligence, morals, religion, race, ethnicity etc.
If we accept our personal identities as real, can you see how they tend to separate us from others? We live with the mind’s dualistic ideas or better/worse, right/wrong, safe/unsafe, pride/shame etc. Can you see how we join with our fellow believers and reject or vilify those who have opposing identities? This contributes to the polarization and suffering so evident today in politics, religion, and about so many social issues. We have all unwittingly become identified with a limited sense of self and we seek out others to confirm our tentative beliefs, and we reject those with different conditioning as “them.” Wars begin from here. Kindness vanishes.
This teaching is not about improving one’s identity, not about self-improvement, not about becoming a better person or more lovable. Satsang is about learning how to see beyond the limiting sense of personal identity so that one may discover the truth of who you really are.
Inner realization is a process of shedding, of losing what one takes oneself to be, to ultimately become what one is, without need for any external support, not even one’s mind. This description is not metaphorical; one actually experiences the disappearance of great realms of one’s identity. As one goes deeper and deeper, one realizes that one is shedding concepts that one had taken to be absolute truths.
~ A.H. Almaas
From the first recognition of our true nature, to the shift of our true nature, there may be many instances of going back and forth, between the recognition of our true nature and contraction back into a separate sense of identity. And that movement back and forth is going to happen however long as necessary.
Ego identity is kept alive through habit, practice
and the unquestioned assumption that we are our
body and mind conditioning. We are living with
the notion that we are this constructed self. This
constructed identity is our root belief and nearly all
our activities spring from there. And we keep all
this up because it is all we believe we are. We are
faithful and loyal to this habit of associating with
impermanence, and like this we become a loyal member
of the community of ignorance. But once the ego is
immersed in the energy field of satsang, its power
and influence begin to this away quickly. As soon as
the ego enters the Heart’s orbit, it is like a meteorite
vanishing into the atmosphere before it reaches earth.
Stop identifying with the 'ego'.
If you can convince yourself:
"This 'little self' is not really me", it will just disappear.
The 'ego' is something which only appears to be real.
If you can understand that it has no real existence, it will disappear, leaving behind it the experience of the real and only Self.
~ Annamalai Swami
After we have been on the path for a while, we discover that we have signed up, perhaps unwittingly, for a loss that will eclipse all of our losses: the death of our conditioned identities, which we have taken to be who we are. Not trusting yet that this death is the vehicle for the very transformation we long for, we flee from it in terror.
~ Jennifer Welwood
Every thought is about body identification.
Every thought is about “I”
Survival - comfort - pleasure.
~ Byron Katie
An infant, not being aware of having an individual identity, has no intellect with which to conceptualize and therefore lives in spontaneous freedom without resistance from moment to moment.
The same is true of the self-realized sage, who has gone beyond the mind.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
The ego is always trying to ‘arrive’ so that it can rest. This is its belief, its hope, its dream. And it wants to ‘arrive’ at this arrival so that it can identify itself as being one who ‘arrived.’ But all of this is the ego looking for a better identity and a more advantageous state to be in. All of this is neither good nor bad, right or wrong. It simply is confusion and causes suffering.
When all the false self-identifications are thrown away, what remains is all-embracing love.
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
Even when we have been in satsang for a while,
we continue to nurture and protect our individual
identity and the sense of personal autonomy.
You still hold onto this even though you know
it is ephemeral by nature.
And what is the cost of holding onto identity?
It blocks the profound recognition that sets us free.
Creating an identity is a means to navigate in society, but it has no other purpose. To awaken is to realize that the stories we obsess over are a waste of energy.
~ Liberation Unlimited
What is awakening? There is a lot of understanding and misunderstanding about this too. On the path the freedom, we may have many experiences of little shifts, experiences of recognition, or ah-hah moments, an insight, a realization, and wow, it's great, amazing insight or clarity. When I say ‘awakening’ I mean a shift of a sense in which identity, which has been based on our body-mind experience, shifts into a greater sense of identity, grounded in the truth of who we really are. Initially, when we look at the body-mind we say that's ‘me’. That's a habitual point of reference. When awakening happens, that sense of identity shifts. Now instead of identifying with the body-mind, we begin to know the real ground, the real truth of who we are is our true nature.
The whole world is suffering only because of mistaken identity.
The true 'I' is pure impersonal consciousness.
Its nature is peace, wisdom, love and joy.
When taken to be the body, mind and person,
'I' becomes ego and darkness comes into the world.
True and lasting freedom, love and happiness
returns to mankind when he searches
for and rediscovers his real nature.
I remind you again, the only difference between the sage and yourself
is you see the world and you identify with it. You think it's real.
A sage sees the world and he knows it's a superimposition upon Consciousness.
So he identifies with Consciousness.
~ Robert Adams
When personal identification vanishes, all that then remains is a sense of presence without the person, which gets translated into a feeling of life as total freedom.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
The ego is the impersonal consciousness, identified with a particular body mind organism as a separate entity with a sense of personal doership. Enlightenment is the total acceptance that no individual is capable of ‘doing’ anything, good or bad.
~ Ramesh Balsekar
We are free
before we think something
so we can feel free
Every thought believed
then reacted to
solidifies the identity
All the effort to change
something locks you out
of pure awareness
You are not
your opinion of yourself
or anything else
for that matter
You have always been
the security that has
been sought after eternally.
~ Stuart Schwartz
Imagining that you are the
doer of any action during your
day is mistaken identity and an
arrogance of the human mind.
Mind will claim ownership.
Mind will take responsibility.
Mind will create expectations.
Eventually, all of these ideas
will bring suffering.
When identification with the
one who is doing ceases,
life will continue uninhibited
by the burden of the personal 'I'.
~ Jac O'Keeffe
For more about identity see Ego Identity