Julie Lebrun by Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun(1787)

The Identity Crisis

Okuden went to a zen master. Bowing respectfully he asked

‘Master, will you kindly accept me as your disciple?’

‘Sure, but who are you?”, the master enquired

“I am okuden.”

“I didn’t ask for your name. I asked who you are!” the master said.

“I am the son of the great sword maker Boken.”

“I didn’t ask for your father’s name either. Who are You?”

Bewildered, Okuden said “I belong to the clan of sword makers living in the village of Shinpa”

“I didn’t ask for your clan or village. I asked who you are?”

“I am a student of master Aragaki,” Okuden replied confused.

“I didn’t ask for your master’s name. Who are you?”

“I don’t know. Please help me!” Okuden cried out loud

The master smiled.”This is your first lesson!”

All of us identify ourselves with the labels that society has assigned to us since our birth. The acquired identities create a smokescreen which blinds us from seeing who we really are.

A writer’s experience

Recently I read the life story of a famous writer. Coming from a poor financial background he strived hard to earn a high paying job in a construction firm in the Middle East. After a few years, he somehow felt like a misfit in his line of work. The feeling combined with the loneliness pushed him into an emotional turmoil and started questioning the identity that he has acquired now.

As a voracious reader, he found solace in books and had an insatiable desire to write something. At first, his write-ups were ridiculed by his colleagues, but slowly the quality of his writing improved. His stories started getting green flags from publishers and subsequently, he quit his job in the construction firm.

He ends the note by saying that if he hadn’t tried to find his true identity, he would have never been a successful writer.

Getting rid of false identities

All discomfort comes from suppressing your true identity.

Bryant H. McGill

We all have acquired such false identities in our lifetime. We cling on to them and make ourselves and others believe that that is who we are. But unfortunately, these labels turn out to be a mask behind which we hide our true self.

We cling on to such veils because they are familiar and it seems safe to hide behind them. Many are reluctant to take the pain and look behind the mask. They fear that their true self would not be accepted by their loved ones. They hence prefer to live in eternal dissatisfaction.

We will indeed have to leave our comfort zone to discover who we are. It may radically change the life that we are leading too. But isn’t it better to live in truth than conforming to a lie?

How to know your true identity?

We are adding up layers upon layers of false identities as we live in society. Living up to these acquired identities burdens us.

If you are suffocating under the layers and earn to break free, you have to peel off each layer one by one in last-in-first-out basis. If it is a job that assigned you a new title, shed that first. Because it is easier to give up those identities which we are not much used to. Then go deeper and deeper.

Try to think of what defines you; is it your job? community? money that you have? the people you know? Such a deep research into ourselves will give us great insights.

How it affects us

Think how cruel it is to ignore someone very close to you. She who likes to get your attention becomes disappointed at your neglect.

This is true with our real self too. We are so caught up with the false images that we ignore our true identity. This cruelty towards our self makes us feel irritable and unloved.

When we try to find our true identity, it starts to present itself and we become more happy and content with our lives.

Arriving at Your Self

Once we see through our momentary passions and instincts, we become more focused on our true image. Be ready to take risks and to break out of the comfort zones.

A passionate search into the depths of our being will resurrect the long crucified true identity hidden in the tomb of our subconscious. It will give us a taste of the freedom that was previously unknown.

Be ready to take a hike into your self and find your true identity. Then you will be able to boldly answer the most relevant question: Who are you?

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you. Please post your opinions in the comment box below.

19 comments

  1. I took time to see Okuden and his challenge; to appreciate that he is not only one little thing: a name, a son of his father, a swordsman etc but a compilation of several other things ..a combination that needs to be revealed like a well brought together food with tens or hundreds of ingredients! Nice one

    • Thank you for appreciating the ancient story. Everyone gets different answers through tales like these. I believe it makes them more closer to the ultimate reality.

  2. View from my window is almost same, is it because Manu is staying near my home?
    It’s a Honor that Manu is my Neibour.

  3. Great post! The story really opened my eyes. I am not my name! It is truly remarkable. Such insights can totally change a person

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