I believe Identity is a case of mistaken identity. We want to distinguish between the copy and the original, the unique person and his followers. We would like to think maybe Margaret Thatcher as embodying an ideal of neo-libralism, for example. She invites us to not care about others’ misfortune in favor of our own greed. She had the idea to change our souls this way.
Unfortunately when we try to find the unique person, we have other copies that are candidates for being the original unique. One school of thought believes that there is a kind of collective pack-mentality (not a conspiracy) of people who are like-minded. When they are public with their ideas, people want to pick one of the pack, when in fact this oligarch of an idea has no one leader, they are all copies of each other. There is no unique from which a copy was produced. “Where do the copies come from then?” you may ask. And the answer is that they come from previous copies that were dissimilar in some way. There was a culmination of similar copies that may make an original seem possible.
The whole idea of a Unique Identity depends on a beginning of the Universe, a One God that breathed life and can be inferred from the present, as so many theologians have tried to do.
If there is no beginning, there are no originals to begin with.
We are all copies, dissimilar and similar in different ways. like the wave, we keep crashing against the shore as if to battle the sand, but eventually we return deep into to the ocean and not the wave. The fight ends when there is no wave, no form… The end of form is the end of violence.
The deeper understanding, however, is that similitude and dissimilitude are a creative dialectic force for this world. People simply accept this dialectic without thought. The dialectic of similitude and dissimilitude is not necessary if we think outside of this world, this creator god, and manage an escape.
This escape depends on asking the question: Which is there, similitude or identity? Is an originality is possible, maybe from aliens? (haha) We grasp and stretch our minds to find this original, but all we have are copies to compare.
This does not preclude divine intervention. It just means that this creator god’s interventions are only true in the world the god created. The originality is not ultimate; it does not come from The Beginning.
We could build a house with copies and instructions, made from many copies of copies of ideas about house making. Materials are made to fit a copy all going into the achievement of a copy of shelter from nature. The ideal of the Buddhist monk, on the other hand, is to make a shelter within the mind. And it is better to build this shelter without depending on a house much.
An established monk can roll down a hill in a barrel full of spikes and his shelter to protect him will not have left him in that moment.
At the moment of the Buddha’s enlightenment he speaks of the metaphor of a house as a house of ideas and views:
Through countless births in the cycle of existence
I have run, not finding
although seeking the builder of this house;
and again and again I faced the suffering of new birth.
Oh housebuilder! Now you are seen.
You shall not build a house again for me.
All your beams are broken,
the ridgepole is shattered.
The mind has become freed from conditioning:
the end of craving has been reached.
Dhammapada 11.153, 11.154
dukkhā jāti punappunaṃ.
Puna gehaṃ na kāhasi.
Sabbā te phāsukā bhaggā,