Identity and consciousness

I am, and I am not.

If I declare “I am”, then I am also declaring “I am not” at the same time.

If I say that I am something, then I am also saying that I am not something else. This is duality as I understand it. But there is also non-duality. I would like to propose that there is a tension and balance between duality and non-duality.

For example, from a dualistic perspective, I can choose to say that I am a Chinese by race, which is one of the artificial social constructs we often use in a societal system to label ourselves and others. So, if I say I am a Chinese, that means I am also saying that I am not a non-Chinese; that is, I am not Malay, Indian, and so on. Similarly, from the same perspective, if I say that I am a male, by virtue of the fact that I am born with masculine characteristics, I am also saying that I am not a female, or androgynous for that matter, if I were to subscribe to cis-genderism. For some reasons, I was born in this human body that is considered “male” and recognised by the society as “Chinese”, which I have no control over. Whether this social identity is considered “privileged” depends on whether I was born into a society that is patriarchal, or a society that is dominated by a certain majority race, and so on.

At the same time, from a non-dualistic perspective, I can say that I am neither this nor that. That is to say, I am – in essence – neither Chinese nor non-Chinese, and I am neither male nor female. This is because before I came into existence as a human being on planet earth in this time and space, I am that which is raceless, genderless, timeless and formless, who came from an unknown, mysterious realm.

I suppose the challenge for me is: how do I balance between the two “polarities” as I try to make sense of my existence on this earthly realm? How do I consciously use my multifaceted identities to effect change and make the world a better, more humane and more equitable place?

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