Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

November, 2004


Identity is a very illusive thing. It is given to us, yet we embrace it and own it as if it was always our own.

When we are first born, we come to this world with no identity. Then somebody says, he is the son of so and so, or she belongs to such family… and thus our first identity is acquired.

We wear different identities throughout our lives like different clothing. We have a nationality which is the garment given to us by the virtue of the geographic location of our birth. Of course we have our family. Then we go to school and are given performance identities, such as a grade "A" student. We enter adolescence and are given social acceptance identities such as captain of the football team, or leader of the gang.

Once past our teens, we assume responsible identities such as a doctor or a mechanic. Of course being all of these responsible things, and wanting to fit into the society so badly, we take the bold step of forming our own family by becoming a spouse and eventually a parent.

The more successful among us, adopt larger families such as becoming the CEO of a corporation, or the President of a country, or simply the head of a clan etc.

And when we die, we are eulogized by acquiring the new identity of being among the blessed, while we lived a good life on earth.

But are these really who we are?

Identity in life is more like the snake‘s skin. Once we outgrow it, it is time to shed it and get another one.

Don’t misunderstand me. Identity is a very practical and useful thing to have. It helps us sort things out in neatly packaged ways, and thus makes living and relating to others much easier – at least on a practical level.

But identity is also the straight jacket of the soul. As human beings, we are so much more than the labels we are given. These labels are merely masks that the soul wears. But if we are not careful, the masks will stick to the soul and we will forget to take them off.

Identifying with our identity is perhaps the biggest blow we can give to our soul, which is always flowing, and ever so defiant of definition. How can the soul be the infinite potentiality that it is, if it is restricted to a particular shape and description of its vessel?

Yes, I say. Liberate the soul. Shed the identity. Get rid of the old self. Become a "nobody", and make room for the next mask.

© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
November 2004

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