On the Evolutionary Collective blog, Jeff Carreira writes:
We are all trapped in a self-image a set of ideas that we identify with as who we are. If you want to discover radical freedom then you have to look closely at what choices you are making that are causing you to have the identity that you are experiencing right now. It has been my experience that the key to discovering the mechanism of self-construction is recognizing that there are two kinds of thoughts….
Consider these two thoughts, I could have Mexican food. vs. I want Mexican food. The second is much more laden with identity. It is infused with selfhood. The first one we simply relate to as a thought to be considered. The second one we relate to as a statement about ourselves, from ourselves, telling us who we are. If you examine how we construct our sense of self you will find that it is constructed with thoughts just like, I want Mexican food. I am a mother. I am a good person. I am a person who does this and not that.. and on and on and on. Our self is constructed by a never-ending string of conclusions that appear in our minds as statements directed toward us telling us who we are and who we are not.
True. And behind “I want…” and “I could have…” constructions is the same pronoun, I, which exerts its power over all language speakers (i.e., the first-person pronoun in whatever language).
This realization [of linguistic conditioning] is part of the dawning of enlightenment. It is the realization that there is a whole classification of thought that we have unknowingly and blindly accepted as accurate descriptions of who we are. This is what spiritual ignorance is the unconscious belief that a certain set of unexamined ideas defines the limit of who we are.
Indeed, coming into greater awareness of linguistic conditioning is the essence of a certain sort of enlightenment: a lifting of one’s exclusive identification of self with the ego. In terms of World Spirituality, it’s the raising of consciousness from personal self to True Self.
And yet there is a further realization, in the work of Marc Gafni, in which language is not seen as a barrier to enlightenment but a gateway. At a higher plane of awareness than True Self, there is Unique Self: the True Self as embodied through a particular (linguistic) perspective.
From the Unique Self view, “I want Mexican food” can be a full and completely enlightened utterance, if the “I” refers not the personal self but to the Unique Self, a non-dual way of being in the world in which the Self is fully inhabited at its most expansive point.