The question of identity and identification is central to spiritual awakening. There is often a misunderstanding that one must eradicate the ego and the impermanent sense of identity for the true self to awaken.
Many spiritual teachers assert that “you are not your ego, but rather the formless consciousness.” This idea is intended to facilitate the dissolution of the ego, but it does not entirely capture the reality that emerges after awakening. Once awakened, one’s perspective shifts, and the above statement transforms into “I recognize myself as formless consciousness, but I am also this temporary ego.” but It is first necessary to detach from the impermanent, limited identity to awaken to the all-encompassing nature of the true self.
Following awakening, it becomes apparent that everything can be embraced, included, and integrated, with nothing excluded. This is the nature of true love in action. Although the path to awakening may initially seem to introduce a new form of duality, it is ultimately temporary, leading to the “collapse of the witness” – the reintegration of all pairs of opposites and the return to oneness.
It is also important to consider that Individuation, or the development of a separate, defined self, is a crucial step in the evolution of consciousness. Infinite consciousness experiments with a limited aspect of itself by cultivating self-consciousness, and focusing consciousness through the mind and identity is part of this process.
While consciousness strives to awaken from the most psychologically mature and ripen egos, it is essential to remember that in many others, the “involutive” process of individuation is still at work. In a sense, establishing oneself as a self-conscious individual also constitutes a form of awakening. Hence both growing and dissolving our sense of identity are necessary stages in the evolution of consciousness.
A significant misconception is that after a spiritual awakening, identity is no longer required and the ego is merely an obstacle or an unnecessary fiction. This viewpoint is often expressed in pseudo-Advaita circles by individuals who have experienced partial awakening but lack an understanding of embodiment principles.
Although identification with an impermanent identity may be an impediment on the path to awakening, it becomes a blessing on the journey to embodiment of a refreshed persona. Now that you know you are not solely the ego, you can embrace it again and utilize the personality’s lines of least resistance as channels for manifestation. The key difference is that you now recognize yourself as the infinite manifesting through a limited form, allowing your light to penetrate thoughts, emotions, and ultimately the physical cells of your body – the essence of true embodiment.
The gradual process of the infinite, self-aware consciousness manifesting through a limited form is referred to as “transfiguration” in Christian imagery, or “the Word made flesh.”