It is often said that one is a teacher, a student, a parent, a child, a civil servant, or an enterpriser or some other entity or individual having a specific role in society. It is really true that we live with different identities in a community, but assignment of such social or personal roles needs to be explored.
When we grow up, our identities change so many times, from starting off as a grandchild, to a son, then to a student, and/or a class-committee member or a student leader, afterwards, to an employee, a civil servant, a young boss, a wife or husband, until, finally, perhaps, to a big boss or leader, and then, finally, to a grandfather or grandmother.
Who am I in the world then? Which identity is the real "myself"?
An actor sometimes portrays a child, sometimes an old man, sometimes a rich big boss, sometimes a hard-working staff person, changing his role constantly from one to another one. But actors sometimes lose themselves in the role, forgetting their real identities as actors, and of the other people on the stage, as actors, too.
So young people without getting married may pursue their own individual lives, and cannot understand and recognize their parents' cares and expectations. Once getting married, they will come to obtain the same expectations as their parents. At the beginning of their professional careers, young people may be full of enthusiasm, and they may work hard for new opportunities. When becoming a boss, they may not stand in the shoes of the employees but make a decision in accordance with the whole situation. Hitler, caught in the confusion of his identity, misunderstood Jews as an inferior race and caused the tragedy of killing millions of them in an attempt to eradicate them from human existence and history.
In fact, whether a person is a child, a parent, a boss or an employee, male or female, poor or rich, he is a person beyond these identities, a person wishing for happiness but avoiding pain.
This is a simple fact but it is very easily forgotten. The boss does not think employees work well, and employees feel the boss is unreasonable. Parents think their children are not obedient, and children think their parents are too strict. Many kinds of contradictions, repulsions, loves and hates work themselves out in life.
If we realize that each person is equal to any other ones, we would surpass the identity of an actor. Going beyond the limitations of the external identity, we not only see matters from our own perspective and consider our own interests, we may also see the facts more clearly and understand ourselves and others, more comprehensively.
If we can see beyond these individual roles or identities, we can be more free and easy in real life, without being subject to immediate interests, and arrive at greater tolerance, clarity of understanding, and wisdom. More importantly, such transcendence of perspective can help us see the return of life and get enlightened.
The meaning of life does not lie in the aggregation of different identities. We live to do meaningful things with an indomitable spirit in the world. And these various identities are only kinds of decorations to us, a natural show of our heart at ease.
Life can be lived with dignity and free from anxiety, like a piece of gold shining golden light. Though a big lump of gold can be made into a car, the car cannot represent the intrinsic value of the original gold metal. Whatever a gold can be changed into, a ring, a necklace, or a sculpture, it represents only a new form of the gold metal, no matter how conspicuous in its particularity it looks.
Going beyond the confines of our different identities, we will find ourselves detached from these identities, and gain a never-changing heart, at ease with itself. This transcendent understanding will help us to see the original values of our lives like a great mass of gold, shining and sparkling beautifully.