Why do “the work” of working with the identity, if the identity itself is just a misunderstanding? Let’s appear to answer this question.
Well, first of all, one doesn’t typically appear (we’ll talk about the illusion of this in a moment) to pull their awareness out of the mire of identity without working with it, although there appear to, of course, be many famous exceptions. And while there is no non-awareness really, there is no working, there is no pulling, there is no mire, there is no identity and there is no me, the illusion is that that is what is there that must be worked with.
In this grand illusion, it is the illusion of the illusion that illusorily works with the illusion of the illusion!
Why do we do it? We don’t. But we think we do because it appears that all of the misunderstandings that keep us imprisoned in our perceptions of limitation are frustrating! They’re maddening, and we naturally strain at our straightjackets and wail and pound on the walls of our cells because our inherent nature is freedom. We think, until we don’t, that freedom comes from something and isn’t who we are. It can appear quite tricky, however, because “we” doesn’t actually exist—but the point is that until we work with all of it, we can’t experience living freely in our lives, which is what we think we really want (what we finally discover is that we—not-we—don’t actually want anything at all). We must understand, in our bones, as a start, that form, that duality IS pain, IS limitation, but that that’s not the whole story, because all the pain is illusory but also feels very real. This usually takes a lot of unlearning, and that’s the work.
There’s complete occlusion of awareness of anything but what we’ve been taught, what’s been unlearned, then there’s pain, there’s conceptual ego breakdown, there’s questioning, there’s unpacking, redefining, there’s achieving in various conceptual/ideational realms, there’s being and then there’s nothing but Love (but not in the typical understanding of always-positive-never-painful-awareness-experience way, although the pain perhaps lessens); it’s just illusory-hands-illusary-off-the-illusary-wheel—there’s nothing ever to do. It just does.
But why work with the identity, why do “the work” once awareness of Oneness emerges? First of all, awareness of Oneness is what we eventually think we’re ultimately after. But until we realize we’re not who we think we are and that the not-we is actually not after anything and that separation from Oneness is impossible and just an idea in our illusory minds, the we is on this quest. Initially, to live into that freedom we taste when we’re getting an experience of who we really are, in form. As the “me”. To calm down, to not be in so much pain. To parasympathetize the body and access the Oneness awareness. There is typically a slipping back and forth (not a conscious toggling) before living the freedom holds to any degree, if it ever does. So we practice merging, we practice the experience of coming back to awareness of Oneness—because this is the most fun we’ve ever had. It’s not that the identity gets better at anything, but it gets used to the fact that relaxing its understanding of itself and letting go more easily into a state of non-being that is Truth is ok. And at some point, this doesn’t set off an ego-identity panic.
We do the work if we’re inspired to even when Oneness awareness is often present because we love to. Because we love to experience Life and Oneness, although ultimately (but this is also an illusion because there is no “we”): we just ARE it—all of it together. We think we want the identity “me”, our ego, to realize this freedom, then to disappear and to just be the freedom that we are; but it’s the identity that both wants and doesn’t want this and that experiences. So it’s a game, and games are fun, and Oneness and fun are interchangeable. It’s pretty much impossible to not think of these happenings as goals, or a trajectory—our minds by definition just don’t work that way. But what it really is, is Life unfolding, like it does a flower, and a tree. You. Me. Here. There. Everywhere, Everything. No checklist, no agenda. Just unfolding. But also that every checklist and agenda is in the unfolding. Nowhere to get to. Nothing to understand. Nothing to do. It does itself. Just unfolding.