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Disidentification

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Disidentification

Disidentification is a Relaxation of Contraction

Disidentification is simply the absence of identification, the absence of the contraction, the absence of the belief. If you believe that there is a part that is pushed away, you are making it real; the mind is still holding on, contracting in that place. The mind is still restricting itself. Identification is a contraction, and disidentification is a relaxation of that contraction.

Disidentification Means the Cessation of Identification

So we can see why disidentification can't be an activity; if it were an activity, it would not be disidentification, but identification with something else. It would be just a substitution. If there is someone who is moving away from something else, that someone must be identified with something, or at least with the desire to move away from something. Disidentification means the cessation of identification, the cessation of taking something to be you, or to belong to you, or to define you.

Disidentifying With Ego Structures Often Exposes Deficiency

As we have seen in our case histories, disidentifying with an ego structure often exposes a sense of deficiency, lack or weakness, which is sometimes experienced as an emptiness, or more specifically, an empty hole. Allowing an understanding the deficient emptiness precipitates the emergence of the Personal Essence in consciousness.

Dissolution of the Psychic Structure

The final outcome of the process of disidentification is the experience of the dissolution of the psychic structure or self-image. This is the experience of space, of what is sometimes called the void - when self-image is dissolved the person will experience the loss of boundaries, both physical and mental.

Global Disidentification

The capacity for global disidentification allows us to be permanently in touch with our essential presence, although the identity and the self-representation remains in experience. This condition allows the experience of self-realization to arise, at least occasionally, when the identity relaxes to the extent of total absorption by (or into) essential presence. The more this capacity for global disidentification develops, the more frequent, and the deeper, are the experiences of self-realization. This development continues, in principle, until permanent, full self-realization, where total global disidentification coincides with complete absorption of the self-representation, and complete openness and flexibility of identity. Complete flexibility of identity raises the phenomenon of disidentification to a new level, beyond the normal egoic experience. This flexibility involves the dissolution of self-identity, or more accurately, the cessation of the activity of identifying. This condition, which occurs in isolated experiences of self-realization but is the permanent condition of full self-realization (enlightenment), is what is referred to by some traditions as “ego death” or “the death of the self.” In this state of complete annihilation of identity, one does not have identity in the usual sense; our identity is now with the presence of Being. In other words, our identity has shifted from the self-representation to Being.

Identification Means that Your Mind Takes a Certain State for Identity

What is disidentification really? To understand disidentification, you need to understand identification. To identify with anything, any state, means simply that your mind takes a certain state for identity. Your mind holds on to an expression, or a feeling, or a state, and uses it to define you. The mind then contracts around the state in the activity of holding onto it. This very contraction of the mind creates what we call "identity."

Seeing Through the Ego Mechanisms of Seeking Self-Esteem

How is the individual to gain the courage to engage in this process of disidentification, given the deep and sometimes terrifying insecurity that is thereby exposed? It is made much easier if there is some support to take the place of the usual ego supports which come through the object relations, such as approval, recognition, social acceptance and success, love and admiration from friends and family for one’s individuality, financial security, and the like. Clearly one’s attachment to these things is very strong. In fact, our observation is that we are willing to perceive these phenomena without using them for ego support or self esteem only when we have a sense of a more basic, more real support and value. In the process of inner realization this support can be provided by some of the essential aspects. Letting go of ego identifications on a profound level is possible only after the activation of certain essential aspects, primarily those of the five lataif (subtle energy centers in the body) and the aspect of true value. The lataif aspects—strength, will, compassion, enjoyment and intuition—provide the true support of essence which makes it possible to see through ego supports and not compulsively pursue them. The emergence of the aspect of value, for instance, which is the true existential value of Being, makes it possible to see through the ego mechanisms of seeking self-esteem and to become less dependent on them.

Transcendence of the Body through Certain Disidentifications Leads to Cosmic Consciousness

When there is transcendence of the body through disidentification from the self-representations based on it, the Cosmic Consciousness manifests. One realizes that one is not only not the body, but that one is a boundless consciousness. One becomes aware of being a presence that transcends thebody in a very specific manner. One feels one is a presence that is conscious but that is not centered in the body. In fact, one becomes conscious of the body in a total way, as if from outside. One experiences oneself not as in the body, but as containing the body within oneself. One is a boundless and infinite consciousness that contains the body. One feels “I am not the body, the body is in me.” This is a very new and unusual experience for ego; in fact, ego cannot actually experience such a state, which transcends ego and its boundaries.

Two Ways to Develop the Capacity for Disidentification

The capacity for disidentification can develop in two ways: The first is by increasing the capacity to tolerate greater distance from certain self-representations, which allows us to experience Being more easily... The second way the capacity for disidentification develops is that our overall self-representation becomes so much more complete that our identity becomes very flexible. This ultimately leads to a strong general capacity for disidentification such that we can actually be disidentified from the overall self-representation while still maintaining our identity. This capacity requires thorough clarification, that is, objective understanding and seeing through delusions regarding the various segments of our self-representation. It also requires a measure of balance in our spiritual development: balance in relation to mind, heart and body for example; balance in relation to stillness and movement, knowledge and expression, and so on.

What Disidentification Involves

Usually, one is so identified with the self-representations that it is difficult to achieve an objective awareness of them. One needs some distance, some disidentification from the self-images, for there to be a clarity about their nature. Disidentification involves the awareness of both the identifications and the process of identifying with them. This is possible when one is not totally identified with a particular self-image, when one is already sensing that these images are just images, and they are not who one truly is.

What Disidentification Means

Many people think that disidentification is an activity: “I see my identification, and I do something to it—I disidentify. In the same way that I identify, I can disidentify.” But this is not the case. Identification is an activity, and true disidentification is the absence of that activity. Disidentification means:
* Recognizing the inner gluing of my identity or consciousness to a specific content
* Seeing this adherence to the content for what it is—an identification
* Not believing the identification or going along with it
* Not pushing it away
* Understanding it and letting it dissolve or reveal itself as True Nature
If we try to push an identification away, we end up identifying with something else. True Nature doesn’t push anything away. When it sees identification, True Nature says, “Hmm, that’s a very interesting manifestation. I didn’t know I could do that! I can actually trap myself. And sometimes I even forget that I trap myself. I am good at trapping myself.” So it is important not to associate disidentifying with the inner activity of pushing away or disowning. Some people, for example, are concerned that if they don’t identify with their values, their values will disappear. Not identifying with your values doesn’t mean that they will go away. If they are real, they will be there; in fact they will be there more strongly. If they are not real, they will go away. But that only means that you are not completely certain about the reality of your values. And that’s why you need to identify with them. Identification says, “I am not willing to give the thing up! I am not willing to be free of that identification.” This is exactly why identification has such a grip on us: we don’t want to give up our identifications because it would feel like a loss of ground.

What is Disidentification Really?

Let’s take these terms one by one. We’ll begin with the term “disidentification.” We say you need to disidentify from a certain state to be able to understand it. Many methods, such as Gurdjieff’s, deal with identification and disidentification. What is disidentification really? To understand disidentification, you need to understand identification. To identify with anything, any state, means simply that your mind takes a certain state for identify. Your mind holds on to an expression, or a feeling, or a state, and uses it to define you. The mind then contracts around the state in the activity of holding on to it. This very contraction of the mind creates what we call “identity.” So identifying with something is taking a concept and saying, “That’s me,” or “That relates to me,” or “That defines me in some way.” Suppose you identify with your body. Your mind looks at your body and says, “That’s me.” That identification is now a contraction in the body and the mind. Now how does one go about disidentifying from this belief? Contrary to what most people think, disidentification does not mean that part of you separates from the body and says, “Oh, I am not the body.” This would mean that there’s a part of me that I’m pushing away. Most people think disidentification is this pushing away: “I am not that.” Actually, disidentification is simply the awareness that you believe you are your body, and the understanding that that isn’t true, that you are not your body. When you understand this, the false assumption disappears and there is no more belief that you are the body. When there is disidentification, there is no one who disidentifies. Disidentification is simply the absence of identification, the absence of the contraction, the absence of the belief. If you believe that there is a part that is pushed away, you are making it real; the mind is still holding on, contracting in that place. The mind is still restricting itself. Identification is a contraction, and disidentification is a relaxation of that contraction.

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