People live their entire lives in the security of their identities with the body and minds, never ever questioning the reality of these identities. However, a complete loss of these identitifications at a very early age made me question the real nature of my existence "Who am I?"
It started when I was about 8 years old. I was trying to sleep one night and the mind was full of thoughts and activity. I wanted these thoughts to stop, so I could sleep, but the mind seemed unusually full. As I tried to consciously observe these thoughts in an attempt to make hem stop, there was suddenly a mysterious sense of release and a complete loss of identification followed.
There was a complete inability to identify with anything at all; neither the thoughts that were being observed nor the body that was observing these thoughts. With this inability to identify with anything at all, the sense of identity or individuality (ego) dissolved and a frightening sense of being "nobody" or "nothing at all" remained. There remained a frightening awareness of empty existence in a completely awake state since nobody seemed to be existing. In the absence of any identification, I had suddenly become "Nothing" and this state was terrifying and unacceptable.
This loss of complete and total identity created a tremendous sense of insecurity of "Who am I" and there was a desperate need to identify the I (Self) with something, someone. It was an experience beyond the territory of the mind; Since the mind itself remained unidentified with in this experience It defended and asserted that "I am the body, the ego, the entity", but the identity (I) could not be perceived in any form. The body seemed to be moving, seeing, doing in this state of empty existence and there was a sense of helplessness in the inability to find any "doer" of these actions and any "experiencer" of anything happening around.
In a sense there was a body-mind mechanism operating but it did not belong to any entity, any individual; yet there was mysterious awareness of this existence. This state lasted all night and in the morning hours the sleep somehow took over.
When the eyes opened the next morning the existence has regained its identification and the security of the identity had returned. However this security felt completely shaken and the fear of losing it again lingered some where behind. The mind started the process of rebuilding the confidence in the identity, the ego and days passed.
Then after 2-3 months it happened again in a similar manner whilst trying to sleep one night. There was a similar sense of release from all identification and the body and mind remained functional but unidentified. The sense of identity dissolved and existence remained in a nothing, empty state. This time this state lasted for 2-3 months. The nights of empty existence were full of horror, panic and shock and desperate hope in regaining identity in some minutest form. What was the purpose of this existence when there was no identity left at all? Why had awareness of this existence continued? These questions were occurring to "No one" and yet they were there.
There was sense of being just a silent witness to the mind body element that interacted with the world, having no identification or control over it... Seeing people around who seemed so secure in their identities with body and mind and never questioned its reality, created even more desperate need to have a "Self identity". But there was a deep sense of helplessness in just being a silent witnessing to the inner losing struggle to regain identity in some form or the other. Words cannot adequately explain the actual sufferings of this state and for people who are secure in their identities cannot even comprehend what it is to live beyond these identities.
After 1-3 months suddenly one morning some form of identity just returned and hence some sense security, to enable functioning. These incidents of complete loss of identity kept on reoccurring in intervals of 3-6 months to a year, for 13 long years of my life. Every time the identity returned it felt a lot less weaker than before and the fear and insecurity of losing it permanently kept on increasing. Also with every episode of loss of identity, the fear and sense of helplessness kept on increasing and there was a fear of losing the identity permanently. This was the fear of dying, since the permanent loss of identity could only bring death.
The fear kept on mounting to such an extent; that eventually the inevitable happened. When I was around 20, in the midst of one of one of the horror nights of desperately trying to regain some identity and fearing its permanent loss; something magical happened. The fear and sense of helplessness had increased to such an extent that the inner sense of struggle in regaining identity felt too weak to keep on fighting any longer and it just "gave up". Something inside, that feared death on the permanent loss of identity, suddenly did not seem to care even about death and surrendered to this state of existence without an identity.
With this instant surrender there was a magical sense of liberation, peace, joy and happiness. The identity died forever and so did the need for any identity. Existence and awareness still continued in a blissful state without the need felt for any identity; any longer. This was the same state of awareness of existence that had experienced loss all forms of identity 13 years ago, but the absence of identity instead of creating panic and fear now felt divine. The identification with Nothingness now seemed to be like an identification with the infinite, the Absolute, the divine., In the sudden wake of the reality that it the identity had no real existence at all, there was an inner sense of folly in trying to hold on to it for 13 long years
Today after 13 more years, existence still continues in the same state without any identifications. There is just a silent witnessing of the body-mind mechanism which functions in the daily world. People assume there is a real identity or individual they interact with, but in reality there is an understanding that there is no one controlling anything at all. There is however, a need to assume a false identity to deal with worldly pressures, but due the knowingness of its unreal nature it seems meaningless and this cannot be explained to anyone. The body mind mechanism experiences fears, emotions, ideas and there naturally occurs an illusionary identification with these things; since it is required to function in this world. The purpose of this existence is still unknown.
There has been a lot of talk about people wanting to gain self realization. However, in my experience self realization is not about gaining or adding anything to your current sense of self but actually about losing your current sense of self completely until only a sense of existence remains without any sense of any form of self or identity. That is the true nature of the self: to exist only as an awareness or consciousness of pure existence in the sense "I am"; wherein I has no form (either as body, mind, ego or anything else).
This happens only when this true nature of the self fully liberates itself from all illusion of the self that it had formed as an individual, a separate entity due to illusionary identifications with mind and body. The time it takes to liberate would depend on how strongly it has identified with these things.