The sense of I seems to come from a belief in the idea of I.
And our sense of identity comes from all our other beliefs.
Belief in the idea of I
First, there is the simple belief in the idea of I – creating a sense of I and Other, of subject and object, of seer and seen. And as on of the job of thoughts and emotions is to make beliefs appear true, it takes on a very convincing appearance.
Without beliefs, thoughts are revealed as completely innocent – just an aid to explore and navigate in the world of phenomena. When a thought is believed in, it becomes the source of drama and struggle. And when a thought is believed in, it becomes the job of many of the other thoughts to make the belief appear real.
Our sense of identity, used to fill in and flesh out the initial simple sense of I and Other, comes from all our other beliefs.
From the simple I, there is the more refined and complex I am (…), I believe (…) and so on. We split existence into I and Other, I am this and not that. I am a human. I am alive. I am white. I am male. I am liberal. I like fish’n chips. I don’t like conservatives. I believe democracy is good. I believe people shouldn’t talk during a movie. Ad infinitum.
There are many ways to unravel beliefs. The Work seems to be one of the most straightforward and direct ways, and there are also many other forms of inquiry which does the job. Sitting practice is another, repeatedly getting dipped into something which does not match our initial and conventional beliefs, and gradually allows them to erode and fall away.
In the absence of beliefs, there is only Ground manifesting as the myriad phenomena, emptiness dancing. It is just what is – often the same content as before – although absent of any inherent I and Other, subject and object, seer and seen.