I saw the movie “Bourne Ultimatum” a few days back. It was a good action movie. The core of the movie was about the identity of a person changed for military intelligence purposes and a lot of noise in the movie was about it.
That set me thinking on the very concept of identity. What is my identity? Is it the body? The body is just a collection of atoms. Every moment millions of atoms leave the body and millions of different atoms join it. Every cell in the body has its own “identity”. It has a life of its own. It is born, it grows and dies. The body is just a part of the grand dynamics of physical matter in the universe. The mind is also very similar. No ideas that I have are original. Everything is just a permutation and combination of ideas that have come from outside. Every thought is just a modification of some other thought that has come from outside in one form or the other. The mental world of everyone put together is just a grand dynamics of thoughts and ideas, just like the physical universe of matter. Just as I carve out a small, very loosely defined, imaginary part of the physical universe and call it “my body”, I carve out a small, very loosely defined, imaginary part of the mental universe and call it “my mind”. This definition is as imaginary and artificial like latitudes and longitudes on the earth. They exist only for the sake of convenience. They have no real, natural existence. Similarly, concepts like “my body” and “my mind” exist only for convenience and they have no real existence. When these two identities do not have a real existence, they bring down the entire superstructure that rests on them like “my house”, “my parents”, “my children”, “my job”, “my character”, etc, etc. All these identities do hold relevance in everyday life. But they are only for the sake of convenience in everyday transactions.
Thus the very concept of “identity” is only imaginary and exists only for the sake of convenience in everyday dealings in life. Attributing too much reality to the concept of identity is the root of most of the problems faced by humans at individual and collective levels. A clear understanding that identities are only for convenience in transactions and that they do not have any real existence will solve most of the psychological and social problems faced by people today.
Does this mean I have no identity?
Not exactly. It is the “individual” identity, that is in question. I don’t need any second proof of my own existence. So I do exist undoubtedly. What is in question is the various notions about myself. So, if not as an individual, what is my identity? Think deeply. What is my identity beyond the physical and mental planes? Surely I exist apart from these, because I am able to think of these physical and mental “apparent identities” in an objective manner. My real identity is that which cannot be conceived of as an object. The subject can never become the object. That entity, which cannot be objectified is my real identity. I can never be an object of perception or conception. Anything that can be an object is not the subject that I am looking for.
Search within and find yourself !! 🙂