I attended a talk given by a man who’d converted to Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta. He’d been a Buddhist, and then found a remarkable Advaita teacher, and taken that path. He is a student of a man named Mooji. Maybe that name sounds a little funny to you, but actually Mooji is a teacher I’m fond of (having seen a number of his video taped talks).
Anyway, getting somehow to my point, this student of Mooji’s asked for some advice, some instructions on how to live. He was told “Don’t identify.” This was the instruction, the “pith instruction.” “Don’t identify.”
I take this to mean don’t identify as your personality, or your self. Don’t think you are your ego, your emotions, or your thoughts.
I think this is interesting. What if you do identify? Is it possible to identify with something bigger and better, like a “Self”?
I think one reason that Buddhists emphasize contemplating death so much is that the ego dies. The painful process of practicing and studying and having complications and annoyances come up in your life, the famous mishaps, is a process of ego dissolving away, even dying. I think we’re being told (Buddhists, not using the royal we) that death is acceptable largely because the kind of death you experience if you practice is not pleasant but it’s very very useful. That would involve getting over identifying.