What is identification?  Vernon Howard explains it perfectly in Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge:


Begin today to comprehend the enormously important idea called identification.  Your understanding will sweep away a thousand difficulties in a flash.

To identify means to believe that something gives you an identity of some kind.  You can identify with anything – money, sex, public prominence, your own thoughts.  A man exclaims, ‘See!  I achieved my goal, therefore, I have an identity as a successful man.’  In a gigantic blunder, he mistakes a mere idea about himself as being himself.  And that blunder causes dozens of other errors, including fear of failure.

A very common form of identification is to identify with external activities.  By chasing round and getting involved, a man tries to convince himself of the importance and usefulness of what he is doing.  He deceives himself with the self-description, ‘I am a dynamic and impressive man.’  But his nightmares know better.

Esoteric wisdom urges him to slow down and take a look at the tragic trick he is playing on himself.  That alone will save him from himself.

Inner Life Exercise

“…when you are trying to observe yourself, you must not put the feeling of ‘I’ into what you observe.  You are observing It, a machinery of emotions and thoughts, which is self-running and never still, and, if you look, you will observe an ‘I’ in you, a person in you.  But this person is not you, although he lives with you, and feeds on you, and takes your name – i.e. your force.  You will only get into a state of complete confusion if you think that you are one ‘I’ and think in same way that this ‘I’ can observe this one ‘I’.    People have the illusion that only one thing acts in them and feels and thinks.  Having this illusion, they can form no idea of what self-mastery may mean.  If we suppose that there is only one thing that acts in a man then it will be impossible for one thing to command, another to obey. …One has to observe that one is many and not one.”  –

Maurice Nicoll   Psychological Commentaries on the Teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky


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