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Thinking and Personal Identity

Notice when you are thinking… there is always a sense of “my thoughts” and “I” am
thinking when you notice the process in action. The self is the thinking process. The
ego-self isn’t doing thinking, but thinking is the mind defining itself in relationship to
itself and its world. The feeling of personal identity is created when thinking is occurring
and the most powerful catalyst to the creation of the sense of personal identity is memory.
Memory is thinking in terms of “my” past experiences. Likewise visualizing myself in a
future situation in thought also gives life to the sense of personal identity and its

When trying to recover from an oppressive emotional experience, it is hard to find that
relaxed sense of the detached witnessing of the emotional state and its highly influential
psychological messages. The experience is “riveting”. The reason you can’t objectively
observe the emotional event is that the emotional event and its subjective conceptual
content is defining who we are in that moment. The sense of “me” is inseparable from
the emotional reactive contraction. Without that centralizing contraction in the space of
thought and mind, there is no sense of self. That contraction is a real energy event that
involves our subtle body of chakras and channels as well as our physical body. We tense
up physically when in emotional turmoil. The nature of this contraction is such that it
collapses our sense of spaciousness and openness further adding to our sense of being a
localized entity.

For some, living in the emotional drama gives one a stronger sense of identity as it is so
vividly present in those moments, albeit not a very comfortable experience, yet self re-
enforcing. But in certain cases the added sense of identity has more value than in being
free of the suffering. That’s why some people thrive on turmoil or crises. The have
greater certainty or feeling that they exist.

A good practice for this situation would be to observe with non-personal awareness the
emotional feeling along with the co-existing sense of self. This is like taking one step
behind the personal identity or subjective self in the experience. What is it that notices
this sense of personal selfhood?

Seeing the entire gestalt or scenario is key. It is seen that the impersonal
knowingness/awareness quality is not locked up in the event, unlike the sense of self that
is. In this way all arisings, including personal identity, auto-liberate into the basic
knowingness from which they appear to arise. This non-personal knowingness is called
the Natural State in Buddhist Mahamudra teachings.

I offer this as it is clear many of us still have strong waves of emotional content that arise
as the basis of personal suffering. Instead of trying to eliminate all the causes of
suffering, it is much easier to find the one panacea for all suffering: the dissolution of the
illusion of personal selfhood. It is not that we are a person that has negative emotional
experiences, but rather the sense of being a person is also just an experience that arises in
awareness or knowingness as a mental event.

When we dream at night, the person that we are in the dream is not separate from the
entire vignette of the dream. When the dream dissolves as we awaken, the person we
were in the dream ceases to exist, as well as all of his issues, problems and frustrations
that were part of the dream. Now in our so-called waking state in normal daily life, there
is the possibility of shifting into another even more awakened state of awareness.
Similarly when this “quantum” shift occurs, the personal self or identity dissolves just
like our dream self did. It also was just a projection of sub-conscious drives, thoughts
and conditioning that appeared in our mind as a central organizing feature of everyday
experience. Again, likewise just as when we awoke from our dream at night, all of our
problems vanish instantly and remain so as long as the higher “quantum” consciousness
state continues as is. And just like at night, we can dream a new dream with another
dreamed personal identity, so to the energy of quantum consciousness can cycle back into
the lower state of self-identity projection again. But this time, there is a new feature to
the flow of ordinary consciousness, there is a transformation in the solidity of the self-
projection. The self sense is no longer quite so convincing nor are its problems so
believable and serious.

It is not that the individual self is progressing through stages, but the entire energies of
the mind, subtle energy body, the physical body and ones total world of relationships and
experiences are being transformed. Instead of being a progression to something better, it
is more like a total dissolution into That which is beyond better or worse.

The most significant impact of this upshift, is felt in the mind. It becomes less dense and
fixated upon itself. Gradually all of the minds processes and projections become more
and more transparent. The centralized sense of self diminishes and ones thoughts release
and dissolve more quickly. Emotional reactions also release much quicker and don’t
have the same intensity as before. Our subtle body relaxes allowing the natural flow of
subtle blissful energies to arise spontaneously bringing a state of calm clarity to the mind
and body. Why do I say calm clarity in reference the body? It is because the physical
body, beginning usually with the head, begins to appear transparent as one notices the
body while resting in clear presence. It seems as though you are a clear and transparent
sphere of knowing awareness floating in space without center or edge. The so called
“outer world” is now known to be imbedded within your knowing awareness, and is no
longer felt as “other” or external. Continuing as this borderless sphere of Being without
re-engaging in conceptualization and utilizing the intuitive wisdom that is available when
awareness is totally in the here and now… is the “practice”.