Shokai was helpful in providing a clearer exposition of a complicated and, frankly, for some, an unacceptable concept of identity with which I have been struggling for years. As an odd sort of thank you, I post this to say a bit more about my journey to that concept. And for the two or three PBA readers, I want to illustrate yet another benefit of tolerance: growth. Before there were blogs, there were journals and in one of mine, a few years back, I wrote the following after being particularly struck by the first few chapters of Thoughts Without a Thinker:
The insubstantiality of our lives is far deeper and more damning than the physical frailty and precariousness of our few years. Our greatest hollowness is that the huge stock we tend to put, are tought to put, into the notion of our "soul" or our identity or WHO we are, is misplaced. The great insubstaniality is that the convenient, if universally vague construct "I" around which we spin most of our thinking is in fact a mirage. This insubstantiality is, like its correlate and cousin, death, painful to ponder though liberating once accepted. That pain may be why, great truth that it is and as close to us as our eyebrows, we mostly go about blind to it, letting fleeting glimpses of it slip into the murky pool of things best forgotten. Abetted by every person we speak to and encouraged by all our fears to cling to this fiction, its reality swells from hope to perception to imperative until finally we find ourselves willing to end other lives because they threaten or disagree with the particular way in which we believe our own life to be somehow immortal. The first step of this fateful progression must be forgiven as it is stamped on our infancy and foregone groundwork of our being when we are too young to question. The illusion of unity is lent to us by our bodies. Parents and friends name us and so constantly greet us via a projection of the apparent wholeness of the package onto the presumed contents. We are creatures of speech who construct our worlds with language so having a name, a single label for whatever bubbles within us, has a practicality as forceful and omnipresent as gravity. After consciousness has jelled in that first mold, some escape the progression at one stage or another. The price of their freedom is that the escapees live either as a threat or a challenge to those who have graduated to being fully possessed by the eagerly accepted idea that their pool of mentation will never dry up.
Any idea more readily believed than proven ought to be regarded with suspicion and considered slightly dangerous.