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October 15, 2005

Revealing the True Identity (Part 2)

In Part 1, we have seen how we create false identities for ourselves, as a result of which, we become incapable of realizing our true identity.

Before going further, I would like to build some rough idea of what a true identity is. A true identity is that which cannot be proved false. No play of words. Suppose X is an identity, if by some means I can show that X is false, then, X cannot be my true identity. Logical enough I guess. X becomes true, if only I cannot show that it false.

With this, let me bring in the character of Jonathan Livingston Seagull into the discussion. Jonathan, unlike other seagulls, was not interested in living like the other seagulls. He found hunting for fish very boring and mundane. He refused to accept that he was a mere seagull, whose life is to just hunt for fish. He refused to accept that as a seagull, he cannot fly high. In short, he refused to identify himself as a seagull. Had he accepted himself to be a seagull, he would have adhered to his community rules. He would have believed that he was just a seagull, and he cannot become great in flight. This denial of what one thinks one is, the denial of what one is conditioned to believe one is, are essential for growth. It was this denial along with the belief that there is a possibility of a higher level of existence that made Jonathan strive for what was thought to be impossible. Watch the two important components: Denial of what we think we are, and belief in the possibility of a higher level of existence.

Richard Bach begins the book with these words: “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.” It’s simple, plain, and clear. It is for each one of us to discover the Jonathan Seagull in each one of us. It is for each one of us to find out what possible higher level of existence can we achieve, for which, we need to believe that there indeed is a higher level of existence. To move closer to realizing that higher level of existence, we need to deny our current identity. Else, we are going to be stuck.

We often say, “I want to be accepted as I am”, or “I want to be recognized for what I am”. Do you see how dangerous it is for us to carry such an attitude? When we have such an attitude, we have not only accepted ourselves to be what we think we are, but also expect others to accept that identity which we have created for ourselves. Even if we have an iota of inclination to explore and find out if indeed there is a higher level of existence, we should not be doing this grave injustice to ourselves.

Now, in the story, what is the true nature of Jonathan? What is his real identity? Can anyone pinpoint to something and say that this is what Jonathan is? Think about it. If you have denied your ‘identity’ once, and become something else, will it not be possible for you to become something else again, and move into a still higher level? Is there going to be any stop to this process of continuously re-inventing oneself? What then is the true identity, if at every stage I can become more than what I already am? It is only logical to conclude that, there really is no ‘true identity’, which implies that any identity we have for ourselves is by default, a false one.

So, the moral of the whole story is that there really is no ‘true identity’, but there is always a different plane of existence. Life is only about discovering more and more of these planes, for which it is very important for us to not get stuck be creating in our minds an identity, which invariably is false.

P.S: Read the post titled “Who am I?” and see the connection for yourself.

7 Comments:

Blogger pushkala said...

hey ram
for lesser mortals like identity crises ariss not with getting thm but in losing them
for instance if ishould gve up iyer label.. i need to find reasons to say take it off...
but on the other hand.. if sme1 is gna outcaste me.. its a reason for me to get worried....i m losing an label!!
ellam mayayeee!!

19:16  
Blogger Phoenix-Revived said...

Why should relationships not be labeled?...has similar roots. Doesn't it!

19:30  
Blogger The Ignoramus said...

@pushkala

when someone outcastes you, you can choose either to grumble, mumble, and make a fuss out of it, or stop and analyse to see if that label is necessary for you. What you choose is dependent on what you are.

Identity crisis arises because you are in search of an identity, and the last identity you had of yourself went down crashing. Identity crisis is particularly common in adolescence, because, due to the rapid growth they undergo, they see themselves not being what they though they were just a few months back. It scares them to feel that they are 'nothing', and an identity provides a sense of security. In fact, in all humans, an identity just makes us feel secure. It is very difficult for someone to be 'NOTHING'.

A certain IIT Prof was on the verge of retirement. He had been wishing to lead a quiet life in the ancestral house in a village. But when retirement came closer, he told one of his colleagues that it scared him to think of going to the village, because there he would be a 'nobody'. Being nobody was unacceptable to him. This is a true incident.

Thus, we all constantly seek an identity. But that only limits us.

@Phoenix

Yes. Sort of. I would even go to the extent of saying "don't build relationships, and only then will u be able to see true relationship reveal itself".

Whether it is relationship or oneself, the concept is simple. If there is something, and you look at it in a way that suits you, and makes you feel comfortable, you are plainly lying to yourself. This is the ignorance of Maya talked about by Adi Sankaracharya, where you see a rope to be a snake. Illusion.

20:33  
Blogger Phoenix-Revived said...

Ram,
Seeing a relationship a particular way for convineance is like cheating yourself indeed, but not accepting that there is something that is formulating within you and not giving it the space to realize itself is wrong too. In short , leaving yourself to be ignorant of its existance is not for the good and one realizing not facing it is worse.

21:09  
Blogger Vijay said...

So, the moral of the whole story is that there really is no ‘true identity’

No, Ram. I disagree. This conclusion DOES NOT logically follow from your arguments.

At best, you can say that there really is no "permanent identity", for, each identity IS TRUE as long as it lasts, and that cannot be denied.

If you are speaking about the dispensability of external identities, I would agree with you. But, tell me, what is the measure of the 'truth value' of an 'identity', which in itself is, prima facie, illusory (when we are talking Philosophy, that is)? If you are suggesting that 'permanence' is the measure of 'truth value', I would then ask you to substantiate that premise first.

So, for practical purposes, labels are required, and the fact that you keep changing labels does not, by itself, indicate or imply anything about the 'truth value' of those labels. At best, as I said earlier, they may only indicate something about their 'permanence', or lack thereof.

05:17  
Blogger The Ignoramus said...

I get what you are saying. It simply is a choice of words. Of course, during the entire write-up I could have used 'permanent' to convey the idea. But the word 'true' needs to be used for a specific purpose, which the word 'permanent' cannot meet.

If I say that what I think I am today is not what I really am, and it is not my 'true' identity, I immediately try to find out what my 'true' identity is. In that begins a quest, a journey. It is actually later that we realise that there really is no 'true' identity, but only an ever changing one.
Now, if I were to say that my current identity is not a 'permanent' one, it does not have the same impact on me. I would reason out and say, "Yes, today I am the Assistant General Manager, but tomorrow I will be the General Manager".

'True' shakes your fundamental beliefs, but 'permanent' does not.

07:22  
Blogger Atma-Quest said...

Richard Bach wrote another book called 'ONE'. That book might interest you.

05:45  

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