Identifying with that which arises in consciousness – as opposed to simply viewing its coming and going to, through and out of one’s own spacious awareness – is the process by which breadth of consciousness, space, process, and ability declines. When one identifies his mind becomes the object, concept, idea, or picture rather than the spacious field through which such pass. By identifying as a member of a particular class of people one begins to crave for and cling to that which that assumed identity craves for and clings to. One also begins to automatically resist entire classes of objects arising in consciousness; all of those that are repelled by that with which he identifies. All of this grasping and resistance results in persistence of dissonant energies within one’s field of awareness.
The first and most common means by which messiahs and gurus (wannabe or proclaimed; religious or secular) and their cults have entrapped, controlled, and enslaved well-meaning people by manipulation of the simple mechanics of awareness or consciousness (see Basics) is requiring the assumption of a specific identity. Application requires one assume the identity of ‘member.’
The moment a seeker of truth assumes the identity of a designated category of person he has lost his mastery of that which arises in consciousness. The degree he does so is the degree to which he has departed with the ability to perceive or be truth. Once he identifies he becomes an object continually present within his own consciousness, with all its attendant baggage. He begins to view what arises in awareness not as it is and for what it is but instead through the continuous via of the viewpoint of whatever ‘ist’ he has chosen to become. All of the pre-determined prejudices, likes, dislikes, and judgments of his adopted ism shade and alter everything that he would otherwise view as it really is.
Self-identification breeds more identification. It adversely influences the very process of looking. Required membership is not only unnecessary to assisting a person increase rationality and awareness, it is injurious to it. Becoming some-particular-body is counterproductive of the very process of self-actualization. After some time when a cult member begins to feel entrapped he often continues so for long duration because he cannot see the source of his imprisonment. He is certain somebody or some physical barrier is to blame. He has not yet come to realize that his jailer is himself, and his cell is self-constructed by the identity he has adopted.
Practice in viewing objects arising in and departing from consciousness (thoughts, ideas, pictures, emotions, etc) as the isolated, ephemeral, relatively miniscule and ineffectual things they are within the context of one’s potentially unlimited spacious awareness tends to help one separate out from unwanted previously assumed identities. It allows them to pass on and out of consciousness along with all the other infinity of objects that so arise and so pass. It also tends to expand one’s sphere of consciousness or awareness beyond limits one once considered fixed.