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Beyond Identifications

By now, we begin to see that while identification with our state, our context, our actions is necessary, it also becomes a trap which obscures our experience of who we are. We become identified with fixed ideas of who we are (and what the world is) and we substitute these ideas for actual contact with ourselves. The image replaces reality, not just in the case of the narcissist, but in each and every one of our “self concepts”. The phrase itself is a clear statement that we become a “concept”, and image, not just to others, but more importantly, to ourselves. So if not an image, a concept, who are we? If we eliminate ideas of self, what is self? It actually seems to be constantly moving and changing, with every moment, with every thought, feeling or emotion. If not tied to a fixed image, and if paid attention to from moment to moment, it actually appears to be a fluid awareness which reflects the moment to moment shifts in the interaction between our organism and our environment. It is both a creator of and a creation of the constantly changing “life space”. This is a remarkable discovery, to see the self as a constantly changing, fluid experience, shaped by and shaping not just what is “inside”, but also what is “outside” our skin. All the time, this self identifies with the passing experience, and then “drops” that identity, for the identity of the next moment. It could begin to seem that this “self” actually has no solid, core “self”. And in a way, that’s true. There is no particular identification that in actuality can remain permanent. Our state changes from moment to moment, as does the environment. We get hungry, we get tired, we get irritable, sad. We age, become disabled, fall in love, feel despair and then can explode with joy. Who is this self? In a manner of speaking, it is the awareness that meets and reflects each moment. It has no content, no shape, but it reflects content and takes shape, only to let go and morph into the next moment. It is awareness itself. And as such, as much as it is constantly changing, it never changes. As much as it can’t really be clung to, it is always present, never absent. We forget this; we can’t see it, being surrounded by it and immersed in it – but blind to what we actually are. So we think we are a particular identity, unchanging, and are ruled by this fantasy of a “self”. We’re agoraphobic, afraid of the expansive space that we are, preferring instead to stay inside our small rooms, in rigid shapes. If only we could notice who we are when we let go, we could see the freedom that we have, and the security of our constancy.