To answer the question “Who are we?” we first note that identity derives from Latin idem ‘same’. There are a number of ways of interpreting the meaning of identity, depending on the scope of the context in which we are living. The usual, narrow way is to denote the human qualities and attributes of individuals that are the same at all times and in all circumstances. For instance, the sex of our bodies, the colour of our skins, and our religions, nations, names, and social security numbers often serve, in part, as the basis of what we psychologically and administratively feel are our identities.
However, such identities are illusory, leading to all sorts of difficulties, not the least the philosophy of individualism, which asserts that we must compete with our fellow human beings for the limited money supply. Such bellicose attitudes often arise to protect people’s immortality symbols, necessary because so many have become cognitively and experientially separate from Reality, from our Immortal Ground of Being.
To live more healthily and cooperatively, there are three simple steps we can take. We first recognize that what is the same for all of us is that we are all members of Homo sapiens sapiens ‘wise-wise human’ and that our health, well-being, and even survival as a species is dependent on us recognizing that we are all one interrelated family living in a global village.
We then realize that our True Nature as human beings is kindliness, called compassion (karunā) or loving kindness (mettā) and love or charity (agapē) by Buddhists and Christians, respectively, for the native English word for nature is kind.
The second step is to find our Authentic Self by answering the question “Who am I?” as the Jñānis teach in Advaita ‘not-two’, following the motto neti, neti ‘not this, not this’. We then realize that the Divine Essence we all share is Love, at the origin of the Universe, free of the sense of a separate self, called Anatman ‘Non-self’ in Buddhism. As the Sufi poet Rumi elegantly put it, “Love is the sea of not-being and there intellect drowns,” for “God is Love; and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God, and God in him,” as John wrote in his first epistle in the Bible.
Finally, we allow individual ‘undivided’ consciousness to expand to such an extent that it becomes coterminous with Consciousness itself and we realize that the Genuine Identity of all beings in our holographic Universe is Ineffable, Nondual Wholeness.