Identity: (1) The character or personality of an individual: unity and continuity of personality; (2) one’s perception of the sameness and persistence of one’s own individual personality: sense of self. (Merriam-Webster)
Before you begin reading this post, please Google the phrase “the search for identity”. You will be shown links to almost 43 million pages that approach the issue.
It would seem that identity, and the search for it, is the heart and soul of being human. If that’s the case, how can it be that such a critical component of being human is considered to be such a mystery by so many? What is identity, after all? Where is it to be found?
According to Buddhist texts and most of the wisdom teachings, misidentification is the sole cause of human psychological misery. Those teachings tell us that all personal identification whatsoever is misidentification, and they therefore advise us to seek a state that is clear of all limiting ideas about our true nature.
This is a perfectly understandable misunderstanding of reality, and no cause for blame. Truthfully, those who presented us with these teachings were courageous pioneers in the continuing effort to understand human being and human misery.
But it turns out that it is not identification per se that is the problem. It is the identification with a diseased personality that is the true cause of all the trouble. And that problem turns out to be hard to understand, but really easy to fix.
My understanding of the mind and its role in human life may strike you as strange, but I promise that it is entirely consistent with everything I have seen in the current scientific literature on these matters. So please focus first on understanding fully what I am saying before trying to decide whether you agree with me or not.