Zero = Infinity    *****    If you can enjoy sadness, then nothing can stop you from being happy always    *****    Love is the flow of positive energy from one soul to another   *****    An atheist can realise God more easily than the staunchest theist
October 15, 2005

Revealing the True Identity (Part 1)

The Managing Director of Deloitte introduced himself thus: “I am the Managing Director of Deloitte”. Just watch what he said. Is he the managing director? Or, is he occupying the post of the managing director? This is not some play of words. Why didn’t he say “I am in the post of the Managing Director”? Why then did he say what he said?

As human beings, we get to interact with the outside world on a day-to-day basis. In this interaction, there are associations we make with all kinds of entities – animate, inanimate and abstract. It so happens that when the association spans over a considerable period of time, we develop a sense of belonging to the objects of association, which later turns into attachment, and finally we even begin to identify ourselves with those objects. The Managing Director’s statement, when looked at in this angle, makes you realize what has happened to him. He is in his mind now the M.D. of some company. That’s his identity.

This happens to all of us. Our sense of identity is often established by what we are associated with. 'I am an Iyer' is a sense of identity that comes because I was born in a family which identifies itself with Iyers. I call myself a Bangalorean, even though I was not born in Bangalore, but because I have been in the city ever since I was three. I call myself an IITian because I studied here. All these are identities I create for myself, and these identities originate with the kind of associations I have had with the outside world. Mind you, as explained earlier, identifying oneself with an external object is a deep rooted malady, more than attachment too. It is dangerous, mainly because, the outside world is conditioning your mind to think we are something, and we accept it without questioning.

I am reminded of a Zen story. It so happened that an egg of an eagle slipped into the nest of a hen. All the eggs hatched in due course of time. The eaglet and the chicken grew up together, and the hen fed the eaglet with worms the way it would feed her chicken. The eaglet grew up on a diet of worms and grains. As it grew up, it would fly but only to a certain height, just as much as hens could do. The eagle thought that it was a hen, and so could never realize what it truly is.

The moral of the story is that when we identify ourselves with an external object, be it the seat we are occupying, the job we do, the nation, the religion, the language, the caste to which we belong, we are not helping ourselves, because we can never realize what we truly are. After all, anything external to us is clearly not us, and identifying ourselves with that is equivalent to identifying ourselves with what we are not. Another consequence with such false identification is that we become protective and possessive of those objects. We would do anything to protect that object, while morality and ethics usually take a backseat. It is for this reason that your boss would often try to even retard your progress so that his chair does not go away from him. It is for this reason that there is power struggle in politics, clashes between religious communities, prejudices between people belonging to different communities, and wars fought between nations. All arising from the fundamental problem of false identity we have.

This false sense of identity can be extended to yet another object – the body and therefore, the gender. Those who have understood this need no explanation. For those who haven’t, no explanation would be enough. Therefore, I leave this here, by merely mentioning that if we are identifying ourselves with the body, and calling ourselves male/female, then we are making a grave mistake. It does not matter if another person identifies me with my body and gender, which he/she invariably does, but I myself should not do that mistake.

(To be continues in Part 2)

3 Comments:

Blogger pushkala said...

attachments are the key to all vices.
whenever u get involved with anything..belive me .. there is a huge list of oddities awaiting u!
my funda for life
dnt get too much envolved with anything !

08:31  
Blogger pushkala said...

attachments are the key to all vices.
whenever u get involved with anything..belive me .. there is a huge list of oddities awaiting u!
my funda for life
dnt get too much envolved with anything !

08:31  
Blogger Trespasser said...

There are of three kinds, I me and mine. i is the body. Me is the mind and mine is the worldly possessions. It is most important to extricate yourself from this web so as to lead a happy and peaceful life.

07:18  

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