What is identification?


What is identification really?

It can be seen as a mistake, a mistaken identity with a story, a view, a role.

And yet, it is of course not a mistake. It is just how life (the universe, existence, God, Allah, Buddha Mind) expresses itself here now. It is yet another way for existence to experience itself. It is a way for the infinite to temporarily experience itself as finite.

When there is identification, there is a story saying “this (other) view is what I really am”, but that is not sufficient. That story can be here without being believed, so a belief in that story is necessary. That belief seems the same as identification. Identification with a viewpoint is belief in a story. (What is a belief then? What are the dynamics there? What is really happening?)

I can notice the effects of identification: A sense of center. Of a separate I located at a specific location in space. An identity to flesh out the identification with a view. A sense of having to maintain and defend that view and identity. A sense of unease, tension, stress, distress. (Even if it is at a very low volume.)

I can notice how it is an overlay of images on top of sensations, and how muscles tense up to give those images a better anchor. Tensing the muscles makes what I (temporarily) take myself to be appear more stable and solid.

But all of those may be effects and more peripheral facets of identification.

For me right now, it is easiest to explore this through taking a closer look at the sense of a doer/observer located in the head area.

There is belief in a story of “I am a doer/observer”.

Identification with the doer/observer as a viewpoint. This viewpoint is located in the head area. It is an image overlaid of sensations in the head area, and I notice muscles a tensed slightly to give a sense of stability and solidity to the sensation.

There is also a view direction, an imagined cone fanning out. Most of the time it follows the view of the eyes. But it can be directed in any direction, especially if I close my eyes and bring attention somewhere else.

And that is maybe another clue. Identification is somehow related to attention.

There is of course attention to the story/viewpoint identified with. In this case, attention to the image of a doer/observer. There is attention to the imagined cone represented an imagined view with starting point at the image of a doer/observer (overlaid of certain sensations in the head area).

And that cone seem to guide attention further. It says “here is where to bring attention, and leave out or de-emphasize whatever is outside”.

The cone is another image, highlighting what is inside and de-emphasizing what is outside, in my case through “masking” with a darker overlay of what is outside. (Similar to the masks in Photoshop.)

Also, crucially, there are images of viewing the world from that viewpoint. There are images taken as snapshots from that viewpoint, from that point in space and with a cone of attention directed in a particular direction. (Most often same direction as the nose or eyes.)

And an image of “I” standing right there, viewing the world from right there.

And also, and this too crucially, images masking out whatever may interfere with this appearance.

Images masking out/de-emphasizing other possible viewpoints, such as a viewpoint from the location of the toes. (Which would be equally possible!)

And images masking out the Ground, the field of experience, as another possible location for “I”. (In this case, an “I” not located in a particular location, but everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.)

This is maybe getting a little closer to what is really going on. I had noticed the masking out effect before, but hadn’t taken a closer look at it until now.

So to summarize, with the sense of a an “I” located with or as the doer/observer, there is….

An image of a doer/observer. This image is overlaid on certain sensations in the head area. It is imagined as a viewpoint, located on the doer/observer + sensations. This viewpoint has an imagined cone of view. This cone of view serves as a guide for attention. There is an image of a mask, masking out whatever is on the outside of this cone of view.

And there is an image of another mask, masking out other possible locations and viewpoints for those images of a doer/observer, and also masking out Ground – the field of experience as a field – as another possible location for a sense of “I”.



  • what is identification?
    • notice what may be identified with (images, gestalts, stories, viewpoints)
    • but what is identification – what are the dynamics, how does the appearance of identification happen?
    • some things for now (first notice)
      • created in content of experience, from overlay of images etc.
      • mask – masking out type of mask
      • images of a viewpoint
    • fascinating to explore
      • also, allows/welcome a sense of “I” b/c curious about it (resistance = strengthening it)
      • get more familiar with the dynamics
      • recognize more clearly what is going on + is not what “I” really am (not as something exclusive w/in content of experience, as opposed to the rest)

– a story saying “that’s what I am”
– supporting stories (images) fleshing it out
— masks – masking out type
— images of a viewpoint
— images of a location in space
— images of center-periphery, inside-outside

– am in kindergarten (or pre-kindergarten!) when it comes to this, as I am with just about anything I write about here


There is identification with a viewpoint here, and this may give some clues and pointers for looking a little closer.

There is belief in a story, yes. And a sense of “I” located in space, on top of muscles that are tensed just slightly.

There is an image of an “I” in space, looking in a particular direction.

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