Is Identity an Obstacle to Enlightenment?

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings

Question:

Identity: Is it better to have some or none at all? Is it always the obstacle to enlightenment or is it only a problem when there is craving and clinging to one?

Response:

The identity arithmetic you describe is besides the point. Our identities are important and limiting all at the same time.

My identity as a father is important. As a father, I make decisions for the benefit of my family, not just for myself. It’s one of the best identities I have.

I also play the part of an independent thinker; someone who doesn’t necessarily buy the status quo. This identity is often troublesome. It’s mouthy, contrarian, and self centered.

Being the father, I don’t always take care of myself. Sometimes being an independent thinker pays off.

Knowing the purpose and function of our identities is enabling. With them we can craft a happier life. Click To Tweet

Some of the time, when I feel the tug of suffering on my heartstrings, I’m able to wake up, notice an obsession with a particular identity, and let it go. Sometimes I double down and I amplifying the suffering. When I identify as a failure, I end up in a downward spiral.

Identity is natural to humanity, we cannot part with it in the same way we would not part with our hands. They are both tools. A skilled craftsman knows the purpose of a tool. They know how and when to use it. Knowing the purpose and function of our identities is enabling. With them we can craft a happier life.

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Dialectic Two-Step  is an ongoing series of my thoughts on questions that come my way.

Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two. - Octavio

Dialectic Two Step, Modern Koans, Verse Us, Say What?, and Minute Meditations all copyright Andrew Furst

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Andrew Furst

Author of two books, Poet, Meditation Teacher, Buddhist blogger, backup guitarist for his teenage boys, lucky husband and technologist
Andrew Furst
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