|Chapter 5: Life|
| All of life is experienced. Everything you ever learned throughout your existence has been one big experience, starting where your life began.
At some point in time you came into being. You perceived things around you, but you were not aware of who you were or even that you existed. At birth, you entered a world of sights and sounds, and you interacted with them in the only way you knew how. You made no cognizant choices; you simply behaved as you would, regardless of how you ďought to.Ē You were simply you.
Itís a wonder that you ever came to know yourself. You knew about the things around you before you knew of yourself, and even after you became self-conscious, you only knew of yourself in relation to those things. To this day, you only know yourself in relation to the things and actions and feelings that you experienced around you in your lifetime.
You cannot know yourself apart from your experiences. You need a reality outside of you with which to interact. You need a story in which to see yourself.
I heard of a courtyard outside a Buddhist temple in which there were 15 large stones. The stones were placed in such a way that anywhere you might stand inside the courtyard, you can only see 14 of the stones. You cannot see the fifteenth stone. People say that the fifteenth stone is yourself.
You cannot see yourself without a mirror. The things you experience are mirrors reflecting your image back to you. The way you reacted to things when you were young reflected back to you who you were. Some things you liked, and some you didnít. Some made you feel warm and safe, and others made you afraid. As you became familiar with the way things function in this world, you learned how to use them, and sometimes they did what you expected, but other times they surprised you. Sometimes you surprised yourself.
Itís strange being a person. You can distinguish between you and reality so that you see a relationship between you and it, but at the same time you are a part of the reality that you perceive. On one hand you are part of it, and at the same time you are distinct from it.
You can also distinguish between imagination and reality, but your imagination depends on your reality. You cannot think of something imaginary apart from the things that are real. Look at the greatest actors. See how they act as if they were really in a particular situation. It looks real, because it is real. They act according to a reality that they really experienced so that their acting is as real as anything else. They look back to actual situations they experienced and act accordingly.
Test this with your mind. Imagine something that your mind is not capable of imagining. Thatís right. Think outside of that box. (The box in this case is your own mind). Imagine a world that is completely different than the world you live in. No, I mean completely different. Come on now. Are there people in your imaginary world? Why should there be people? Why do you want them? Is it because youíve been designed as a person and a person desires other persons? What about things? Are there things in your imaginary world? You know, things . . .