Tag Archives: Identicication

Limitation and Identification: who are we really?

I’ve been quiet with my writing. I’m back in Canada where I have other duties to preform; writing looses it’s place on my priority list. But my mind is still working, learning and churning out ideas. The topics are simple on one hand but suddenly as I begin to explain things, I find I have to start from the beginning and the complexity grinds my writing to a halt.

Take identification for instance: how we identify ourselves, how other identify us. Our identity is huge, but as soon as we put our mind and language to identifying ourselves we fall back on a few words: our occupation perhaps, or our studies, maybe even our passions. If we’re having a bad day we’ll identify with our faults and limitations; on a good day with our successes. We’re furious when other identify us in such narrow ways. I suspect this is part of what makes marriage in the 21st century such a daunting prospect. To be narrowed into the role of husband or wife is simply intolerable to many people these days. For many people this is natural, and all of us do it to one degree or other. This is how we understand and share our understanding; but taking vast amounts of information and putting it into bite sized compartments. Understanding is beyond us and most certainly beyond the constraints of our language and the limitations of the senses. Knowing full well that we are burdened with numerous constraints, we forge ahead creating identities for ourselves and imposing them on others. It’s all just more limitation; necessary though it may be.

And this is why they say silence is best.

But language isn’t just limitation, it’s also power (shakti). All of our actions are essentially different shaktis; powers we use to achieve certain goals. Our goals can be long term or short term. What do you want? A glass of water? To be a respected philosopher? To fly airplanes? For these things we have to resort to language, to narrowing ourselves, and, at least externally, identifying ourselves as this or that.

Often times, our goals will conflict. Lust, which arises in a moment, if followed, could jeopardize more long term goals. Knowing what you want in life is central to self knowledge, along with knowing where your talents can take you. Don’t expect yourself to pin down what you want from life, any word you put to your desires is only symbol for some more true desire that cannot be articulated. It’s perfectly acceptable to know what you want but be unable to articulate it; in fact such self knowledge is possibly preferable.

Of course, it’s much more common to identify with our bodies and minds. In this social world we live in it’s almost as unavoidable as actually believing in such limited identifications. Repulsion is unlikely to work for us here; we can’t just push our minds and bodies away and expect them to sit silently on the side as some deeper, truer us emerges and begins directing our life. Rudimentary desires ensure that we cannot just embrace some spiritual explanation of life and move on. We’re sure to get hungery and we’re sure to want to know something that we don’t already know.

Within the tradition I study under (Kashmiri Shaivism), it’s common information that as individuals we are all of the same substance as God. We call that highest God Parama-Shiva; a transcendental god consciousness that we cannot even imagine. But being of the same substance as god (Shiva) is not the same as being gods ourselves. We certainly have creative potential beyond our wildest imaginations, but as long as we rest in these human bodies we must also embrace the many limitations that make such existence possible. Time, space, knowledge, longing, and of course, cause and effect are the natural laws that limit us from becoming gods ourselves. So although we may be made of the same stuff as god, we have both a different form and a different function as god.

This doesn’t mean that we cannot perform miracles in defy these limitations in some cases, but generally miracles follow natural laws that we merely don’t understand. Our inner experience may also be very different from our outer experience since our inner experience, being more recognizable as consciousness (as opposed to material) is closer to god than the world of matter in which we perform most of our action. But even that inner experience has various stages of consciousness that we must be aware of. This awareness is perhaps the crux of the issue. We can identify ourselves as narrowly as we like, as long as we are fully aware that it’s a limited identification. We need to be aware of and appreciate all levels of consciousness from the physical, thru the mental to the spiritual. Revulsion is just as much of an attachment as desire. Awareness must permeate all levels of consciousness.

This is why I believe an understanding of the various Tattvas is so important. The tattvas are the elements that represent all the levels of consciousness starting with earth air fire water and ether and culminating to pure consciousness. Our bodies and senses and various levels of conscious experiences are are represented by the tattvas. I suspect that it’s been since the very beginning of mysticism that people began highlighting the importance of understanding the 5 basic elements. Time and time again I read of their importance. Yoga teachers all over the world talk about grounding to the earth element, The doshas and qualities derived by Ayurveda are merely mixtures of the basic elements ( way to break the fives basics down to three). It’s common knowledge that even the most modern scientist will not argue with when we say that we matter is all made up of the basic five elements, but as we move up the chain of elemental metaphysical existence we run into more and more controversy and all we can really rely on is our own experience of things both physical and metaphysical.

This experiential knowledge is the main way mystics get around the limitations of the senses. Instead of just 5 senses from which to collect information and understanding of the ourselves and the world around us, mystics have elevated a 6th sense to primacy. Tantrics call it Agama knowledge. That 6th sense is not really as out of this world as the reputation that precedes it. The 6th sense is merely experiential knowledge; the knowledge we gather that cannot be readily explained but is undeniably felt and understood thru feeling.

This is the best method of understanding ourselves, who we are and what we want. And it’s the self that we understand in this way that we have to learn to identify with. This is the self beyond limitation, the self beyond the senses and beyond the lower minds. This inexplicable self is the Self that is the same everywhere without distinction. This is the self we want to identify with. This is who we truly are.

Om namah shivaya