Psychospiritual identity confusion

Just as we can be confused about our physical identity, we can be confused about our psychospiritual identity.  And this confusion too can lead to both mental and physical stress, and even a complete mental breakdown.

Let us take inferiority feelings as a case in point.  We all have inferiority feelings at one time or another and about one thing or another.  From a certain point of view they are justified.  That is in everything we do, look like and have, there are others who surpass us.  No matter who we are, there are others who are smarter, stronger, sexier, have a better sense of humor and drive a better car.  Even if we are the greatest in something, we fall short in everything else.  There is just no way that we can be better than everyone else in every way.

But we can try - and that we do!  Every one of us continually compares ourselves to everyone else in every way!  How do we try?  We either compete or we rationalize. When we compete, we go on struggling as long as there is a chance of winning.  And what we are really struggling for, for permission to replace our inferiority feelings with superiority feelings in our own mind.  Why do we struggle so hard?  Because when we accept defeat, we embrace inferiority, with all that goes with it. 

When we rationalize instead of competing, we do it by finding fault with that which we are competing with, or by disqualifying the whole person. When we compete, we can lose.  But when we rationalize, we cannot.  But neither can we win.  Instead, we become trapped in more and more denial and delusion.

How do inferiority feelings relate to identity confusion?  This is where the psychological level of explanation gives way to the spiritual.  On the psychological level, thoughts, like physical things, are completely real.  On the spiritual level however, neither physical things nor thoughts are completely real.  What is real then, you might ask?  The only thing about us that is ultimately real is consciousness.  We are all just awareness, pure consciousness embodied in a body - and that consciousness, disembodied, is God.

When we mistake things like our body or its thoughts for our identity, our identity becomes a collection of things and we are in identity confusion. Things can be compared to other things and inevitably they are, but consciousness is consciousness.  It is no-thing and no-thing cannot be compared to anything else.

Once we compare one thing to another, we have three possible outcomes. It can be better, worse or the same.  Which means that insofar as our identity is tied to our attributes, when we compare ourselves to others, or things, we limit ourselves to being better, worse or the same.  Being better is superiority and carries overtones of authoritarianism and arrogance.  Being worse is inferiority and carries overtones of submission and depression.  Both are undesirable.  Which leaves being the same.  Individuals, even whole cultures have opted for sameness as a way of resolving conflicts and fostering cooperation, but in some ways sameness is the worst strategy of all. Because in the assumption of sameness the individual or culture sacrifices individuality, striving, progress, the power of discrimination and the possibility of excellence. 

So what then is the solution?  It is to transcend the level of false or mistaken identity, to understand our real identity and rest not in superiority, inferiority or even sameness, but in the aliveness that arises when comparison ends.  The gazelle doesn't covet the water buffalo’s muscle, or the water buffalo the gazelle's grace.  They just are different.  Neither better nor worse, they are just themselves.  So the way out of the inferiority superiority split is to rest in our real identity as consciousness, for consciousness is the one thing that is not a thing and so cannot be compared.  It, like all of us, just is.