Lately I find that I am desperately trying to find something to do, or learn something in order to give myself an identity, knowing perfectly well that this is a trap of the mind. Why is it so painful and shocking to not have any identity, to be nobody?
The psychology of the crowd is the problem. Your whole upbringing teaches you to be identified as a certain personality. Nobody is worried about who you are; everybody is putting different labels on you. And that is a very easy job, because the search for your own self can be done only by you; nobody else can do it on your behalf.
The child comes into the world utterly innocent, a blank sheet of paper. He does not know even his own signature. We have to teach him his name, which is a fiction; and with this fiction every individual starts as a novel. One fiction leads to another. The whole life becomes fictitious, and we have to cling to it because that’s all we have got. Otherwise there is utter emptiness, nothingness, abysmal. We will be lost.
A story will help you:
A man had lost his way in the mountains and could not reach the village. The sun went down. Darkness covered the whole mountain; the path was very narrow, but to remain in the mountains was dangerous – wild animals… So he was slowly moving: perhaps he might get out of the mountainous region, but his feet slipped on a rock. He was hanging onto the rock – underneath was absolute darkness, abysmal.
What do you want? Can you tell that man, “Let go of that rock, it is useless. Why are you holding it?” He is not really holding the rock, he is avoiding the nothingness. That is the only alternative: to leave the rock and disappear into nothingness.
It was a cold night, and as it became colder his hands became numb with cold. A point came in the middle of the night when he could not hold onto the rock anymore – not that he did not want to, but his hands were almost frozen. He could not move his fingers. Finally he had to let go of the rock in despair, in utter despair. It was only a question of six hours more, and the morning would have been there and he could have found some way.
But in a single split moment the whole story takes a new turn. Here he felt great despair as his hands became incapable of holding onto the rock, but the moment the rock was no longer in his hands, he was standing on the ground!
But in the darkness you cannot see the ground. All those six hours that he suffered, he suffered unnecessarily. The ground was not more than six inches away from him.
But in darkness, those six inches are infinite.