Is Identity an Obstacle to Enlightenment?

Posted by in Dialectic Two-Step, Writings


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?


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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