We are provided by society with the basic unit (or ‘building block’) of identity and the idea is that we should do our best to ‘add to it’, or somehow ‘do positive things with it’. All sorts of possibilities exist with regard to what we might want to do with this basic unit of personality, and how we might conceivably improve its situation, or develop it, and this field of possibilities (both positive and negative) is what makes up ‘life’ for us. One possibility exists that is never mentioned however and that is the possibility of radically transforming this basic ‘unit’ of identity! That’s off the menu, that’s not something that anyone is ever going to talk about. In terms of ‘opening up a whole new field of possibilities’ however, working off this same basic unit of identity the whole time (as if there’s actually something good about it) is a complete nonstarter – we’re never going to get anywhere with it! It’s all just ‘cosmetic changes’ that we’re talking about here, nothing profound, nothing that is in any way meaningful.
But that ‘basic unit’ is me, I will probably object at this point – that’s who I am! If my basic ‘self’ or ‘identity’ were changed then I wouldn’t be myself anymore and so what good would that be to me? What good would anything be for me? There might be untold reams of scintillating possibilities out there but they wouldn’t be possibilities for me. They might be possibilities for someone else perhaps but not for me, so why would I have any interest in them? I have to ‘stay the same’ if my hopes and plans are to come to anything…
This is exactly the reason we don’t generally have any serious interest in ‘self transformation’ – to ‘transform oneself’ is to ‘lose the self that we once were’, and who’s going to have any interest in this? Our usual motivation is to do things for the self, to acquire outcomes and experiences for the self, to live on the basis of the self, so we’re hardly going to be in any great hurry to get rid of this basis! We’d be going against the grain big-time if we did that.
And yet there is a snag in this argument and that snag is that we never actually were that ‘self’ in the first place. This constitutes a fairly substantial ‘snag’ therefore! The ‘basic unit of identity’ that we started off talking about is just a kind of ‘one size fits all’ or ‘generic’’ self – it equally could equally well be anybody, in other words. When we construct our idea of who we are do so on the basis of ideas that are currently in circulation – we take them off the shelf, we pick them out of the ‘Memesphere’. We are fitting into (or adapting to) a system after all, and so if we hope to stand any chance at all of ‘fitting in’ then we have to use the framework of ideas that everyone else understands and uses.
The ‘other side’ of the generic self – the side that isn’t made up purely of ‘image’ or ‘spin’ – is the nuts-and-bolts conditioning that makes up our personality, the mechanical reflexes that ‘drive the engine’, so to speak. This other side of the self is made up of the likes and dislikes, the beliefs, the patterns of thinking and behaviour that we have identified with so that they ‘seem to be us’ (or ‘seem to be the same thing as our own volition’) and this side of the generic self has nothing unique or individual about it either. ‘Personality’ in this sense of the word – never has anything individual about it; conditioning – by its very nature – never does! How can our programming be ‘unique to us’? It is the consciousness that gets conditioned which is unique, which is individual.
It’s our conditioning that we all take notice of, generally speaking. The conditioning takes all the limelight whilst consciousness – which quietly facilitates the whole raucous show – is entirely disregarded. We might usefully think of the story of Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters in this connection – consciousness is the neglected part of ourselves which does all the hard work and gets none of the glory and consciousness is who we really are, not the blank or concrete personality, not the ugly generic identity. We are supporting the wrong cause, in other words!
So this ‘basic unit of identity’ that we spend our entire lives developing and progressing (as best we can, anyway!) hasn’t actually got anything of who we truly are in it. It’s the token of ourselves in the game we are playing, nothing more. The conditioned self is fundamentally ‘non-creative’; it’s made up of some kind of ‘blank or inert material’ (so to speak) and this is just another way of saying that ‘there are no possibilities in it’. The conditioned or generic self isn’t who we really are and there are therefore no possibilities in it at all. There are zero possibilities in this unit of identity and yet at the same time this is the hardest thing for us to understand. There’s nothing harder for us to understand than this. The chances are very much that we never will understand it, therefore. We’re not interested in understanding it because that would entirely spoil the game that we are playing, which is the game of the generic self.
We’re stuck in this position, therefore. We’re stuck in this godforsaken position of ‘continually putting all our money on the wrong horse’. We think that all our possibilities lie in the conditioned self, in the concrete identity, and so we never look any deeper into things, we never see the ‘living energy’ that animates everything, and in which all possibilities lie. It’s not what we are made into that matters, it’s what we made out of; it’s not what we are formed into the accounts, it’s what we are formed from; it’s not where we are supposedly going to that is so important, it’s where we came from…
Art: Sr. X