How Does Identification Work in the Inner World?
We sometimes ask ourselves questions for which there could be not one but several answers: Who am I, what is my duty, what is my main objective and is it right for me to work towards fulfilling that objective? What is the purpose of my life? These questions come to our mind perhaps as random thoughts, and then they go away.
In the normal flow of things, we don't tend to analyse or concentrate on these questions too seriously because we have to deal first with thoughts on what we consider to be our priorities.
Let's take the most commonly expressed doubt: Who am I, really? The immediate answer that comes to mind would be the name you have been given - "I am ______." This is because we have learnt this the moment we started recognizing and speaking, in our growing years. When someone calls out your name, you respond. And that, over time, becomes your identity. There's nothing wrong in it. But on probing further, we would discover that the identity we think we have is only part of the story.
Let's say I am introducing myself in this way over the telephone or email - the other party would recognise me as someone with a particular name. Once we get to meet, we would probably not recognise the other. On the other hand, if we'd exchanged photographs that indicate what we look like, it helps in identification. So we use photographs, fingerprints, date of birth details and the name for correct identification. In another context, we introduce ourselves in relationship to another as parent, sibling, spouse, friend or teacher, for instance. All this might suffice in the external world.
How does identification work in the inner world? Our external ID is determined by phenomenological factors and relationships and is therefore of a temporary nature; there is a beginning and an end, with birth and death. Then the question arises, am I a temporary being? What then, of my identity?
You continue to exist even after the death of the physical body. There is no such thing as death; the Self passes unchanged from one body to another. There is life beyond death. The Self is immortal and is unborn. The Self is our real identity. Our true identification is with the Immortal, all-pervading Self.
Our identity with name and form or the physical body, is required only in the external world. We are more than the sum of our physical body, mind and desires. Therefore it is important that while we do our duty in the physical world in keeping with our various identities and roles, simultaneously, we need to remind ourselves of our real identity, That, and live with that consciousness.
True, to reconcile the physical (body and earthly relationships) and the spiritual (Supreme consciousness) is not an easy thing to do. However, we can try to understand the import of these truths and practice them as much as we can. As the Gita says: "The more we are able to identify with Self, the less will we be affected by pleasure and pain."