And as is generally the case in these situations, I'm great at pointing out a direction--we need a deep, deep reconfiguration of our identity--but struggle with the follow-up questions of practical implementation. How is one to go about working on this deep, deep reconfiguration of our identities?
I think the Christian contemplative tradition is a great resource here, so I've started reading a bit in this direction, starting with Michael Laird's highly-recommended Into the Silent Land. A passage from Chapter 1 that caught my attention over coffee this morning:
Union with God is not something we acquire by technique but the grounding truth of our lives that engenders the very search for God. Because God is the ground of our being, the relationship between creature and Creator is such that, by sheer grace, separation is not possible. God does not know how to be absent. The fact that most of us experience throughout most of our lives a sense of separation is the great illusion that we are caught up in; it is the human condition. The sense of separation from God is real, but the meeting of stillness reveals that this perceived separation does not have the last word. This illusion of separation is generated by the mind and is sustained by the riveting of our attention to the interior soap opera, the constant chatter of the cocktail party going on in our heads. For most of us this is what normal is, and we are good at coming up with ways of coping with this perceived separation (our consumer-driven entertainment culture takes care of much of it). But some of us are not so good at coping, so we drink ourselves into oblivion or cut or burn ourselves [like the prison inmate who shared with me] "so that the pain will be in a different place and on the outside."
The grace of salvation, the grace of Christian wholeness that flowers in silence, dispels this illusion of separation. For when the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God...