I am a fictional identity.
Not because I don´t exist in the conventional sense, but because all of my existence is provisional, transient, and dependent upon a whole series of causes and conditions giving this word “identity” an odd characterization for such a fluid and potentially open-ended process. (for a further elucidation of my ideas on this topic see Tirado, J. M. (2008) The Buddhist notion of emptiness and its potential contribution to psychology and psychotherapy, International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 27, 2008, 74-79)
Thus “I” am a process.
This process moves quickly, but “I” (the guiding or dominant tendency within a number of sometimes shifting identities) am constantly adhering pieces of experience together to create a solid framework on which I build a story about who I am. This story I then take to be “me”, solid, immutable, and unmistakably a real entity.
But it´s not. Nevertheless, I hold fast to this idea because I am afraid. I am afraid that if this collection of thoughts and memories is not me, then I am, in fact, nothing. That somehow this identity I so long identified with, should it be discarded, then all I thought I was or am is discarded as well and I am left some terribly unimaginable blankness. I fear then that I will fall into some empty hole of nihilism in which life has no meaning and I am free of all moral, ethical, and socially binding constraints. I fear the “emptiness” of no meaning, no significance, and no ultimate perspective.
This would be a horrible misunderstanding, with obviously disastrous consequences.
When “I” am seen a s a fluid process in a cosmos that is fluid as well, where boundarious are porous and, at the quantum level anyway, nothing dies but all comes into magical being with Grace and Beauty, then I can let go of these fears and relax into the Wonder of Time and of Being.
Our separateness, our selfhood and our identities are, at best, convenient fictions, employed by ourselves to escape fear and by others to exploit it.
I´ll have more to say on that latter part in the next installment.