#56 The Crisis of Identity

“’The more you make your thoughts (beliefs) into your identity, the more cut off you are from the spiritual dimension with yourself.’” – Eckhart Tolle

As I sit under a tree amongst many in Golden Gate Park, I venture into my backpack and grab a few fruits I packed. I took out an apple and started eating it. As I got to the core I was graced by many seeds. I picked out a single seed and attempted to break it to see what’s inside. I found nothing.

This led me to think about myself and all of creation. We are created biologically from a man and a woman. Amidst the millions of spermatozoa from my father, accompanied by an ovum from my mother, I was conceived and started the progressional journey to life. Before that, I was a mere concept, a dream, and nothing but an imagined body that my parents hoped for. However, before any of this, I was just an idea in the wind. I came out of nothing.

We can keep going back with this pattern with all of humanity and creation but eventually, the answers have to lead somewhere, don’t they? I used to drive myself crazy trying to figure out why I or anything exists, but I’ve come to a peaceful understanding that we are all actually nothing. I have come to this frame of thinking simply based on my experience. I cannot validate what all of creation is, so I will not venture to guess anymore.

This nothing I talk about is not to say that we are not meaningful because I believe every piece of life on this planet is. Why else are we here? For me, it’s more of a realization that I don’t have the need to attach myself to any form of identity because when I condense our earthly life to its simplest forms, I see that we are created from nothing and will soon go back to that nothingness.

Self-awareness brings about the cessation of identity

After immersing myself in the world of spirituality, I’m gradually becoming more self-aware. There is no end to how much I can learn about myself.

“’The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end. You don’t come to an achievement. You don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.’” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

We come into this world pure and unencumbered without the dogma that will eventually lead to our living demise. Race, sex, politics, and often times even religion can separate and marginalize groups of people against each other. The wars that our world has been subject to since the dawn of human understanding has always been one set of beliefs/thoughts against another. For me to understand humanity and the world at large, I divorced myself from identity and experienced an awakening.

Identification with race and ethnicity

Race refers to one’s physical characteristics and is often unitary (Indian, Black, Caucasian, Asian, Latin, etc.) while ethnicity refers to cultural factors that make you (language, food, tradition, religion, etc.). When it comes to race and ethnicity, I choose not to hold any of these identities as sacred anymore. I don’t allow them to define me either. I was born an Indian male. Today, I can’t see myself having pride for my race and culture. Pride is a feeling you exhibit when you have achieved something. How can I be prideful for being Indian? I was simply born into it as a product of chance. This is not to say that I don’t value my culture and the cultures of others but rather, I’m not attached to any of it. I feel as humans we are much more than specific races and ethnicities. These are all just mere twinkles in what is the greater light we all contain.

Identification with sex

Perhaps the need for the feminist movement would never come into existence if all men understood that they were one chromosome away from being a woman. I was born a man but I could have been born a woman. Not identifying myself with my sex has led me to see women differently. We live in a society where the rights of our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers are not equal. As a man, I know if I want things to change I need to reform myself. The only way this is possible is to divorce myself from the idea of what man has become.

Identification with religion

When I identified myself as a Hindu, I felt like I was creating separation between myself and those that are not Hindu. I wanted to better understand all of humanity and the only way I could do this was to lose my identity with religion. Rituals were a big part of my upbringing but I never understood why certain things were done. Every time I asked family members, no one could tell me either.

“Doing anything blindly without regard for purpose is unfathomable to my spirit and logical mind.”

Religion emanates from belief, belief emanates from thought, thought emanates from ego, and the ego is a false sense of attachment to who we really are. The divinity we carry as humans is far greater than any religion can teach us. Conversely, I do think there is some good with religion when used as a tool to understand yourself and humanity better. If religion is a cause to marginalize others, then I believe it should be re-evaluated. If religion is used as a tool to connect to your higher self and ultimately, with all of creation, then it’s good. We must understand that we are all branches originating from the same tree.

Even though I’ve divorced myself from religion, I enjoy reading books like the Vedas (Upanishads), Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Course of Miracles, and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, to name a few. These ancient texts help me understand myself and humanity because they speak to the central theme of the oneness in life. This also includes the dissolution of attachment, the understanding of time, impermanence, and what it is to be a divine being who transcends material needs and uncovers divine love for oneself and all of the cosmic universe.

Identification with politics

It used to be quite easy for me to become upset over politics. When others didn’t share my beliefs, I argue and debate until I turned blue in the face. Politics divides us. The world has no borders. If you create separation in your mind between other humans (race, sex, gender, religion), then you will create this separation with your political affiliation. You will not be able to understand humanity better instead, you will wallow within the confines of the imaginary borders you have created for yourself. Some of those you love may have views that are not in conjunction with divine love and that’s okay. In this life, you control nothing but your mind and even in this relationship, you have to let go. Once you have made peace with not being able to control anything, you will invite acceptance without expectation. This is liberation my friend. I don’t consider myself a democrat, republican, conservative or liberal. I don’t know what I am but I know having an empathic ear to all of humanity helps me understand this crazy world we live in.

Identification with nationalism

It’s hard to have too much pride for a specific nation rather, I have pride for the entire world. I don’t mean to sound too hippy-ish, but think about it. We are born into a country by chance and we are forced to love it more than other country, even though we are a part of the same world. The older I grow, the less I understand this rhetoric. Our ego, which emanates from thought has us believing that awe are separate from each other. Awareness for all humanity can be realized only when all identification from the material is dissolved. It might seem a bit chaotic but being unattached to nothing creates a type of connection with all of the world. This type of awareness takes patience and focused attention. I leave you with a thoughtful quote to ponder upon:

“When you call yourself an Indian, or a Muslim, or a Christian, or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why this is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system. He is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.’” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

I feel the way I do about identity because I’m living and dying at the same time. Everything that is set before my eyes and everything I experience is fleeting. It will all be gone one day. I will spend this life seeing others as I see myself and in all this, I hope to be a vehicle for truth and love.

The suit that cloaks my spirit, the loving relationships I share with everyone, my house, and my car will be gone too soon. It’s hard to be attached to much these days because I clearly understand that it will all go away.

I leave you with a short poem:


I will be like the apple tree,

To give shade, sustenance, and loving nourishment until I flee.

For I understand that all of creation is destined for a beautiful doom,

Gone will be those that I love too soon.

I have no control over death, so now I shall do my due diligence in loving.

Similar to the apple seed, when broken, I will contain nothing.

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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