Who was me
Your final examination continues. Seriously study these last exercises and compare their “truths” with your normal thinking processes. Where dissonance is found, that is where change is required to dissolve the dissonance. You can 1. conclude that these summarizing concepts are in some way false, 2. change the normal operations of your “thought factory,” or 3. simply continue to live with the dissonance.
The ego is not the witness. The ego is a dynamic and normal functioning of a human nervous system that generates thoughts about an individual’s history of thoughts, feelings and actions. This functionality “summarizes” the past into an edited “report,” and this “constant” reporting can seem to be the sentient entity, the doer, the author of our lives.
It isn’t. The ego isn’t constant. The ego isn’t fully reporting all that happens. The ego isn’t summarizing truthfully or logically-it sometimes even “lies” about the past. The ego “reacts” to what is happening, but it isn’t the causal agent of an individual character’s thoughts and actions.
“Perceiving” himself in a “quasi now,” Walter is shocked by his “true perception” of the multiple instantiations of “himself.” In fact, Walter is violating one of the, usually sacrosanct, “laws of cartoon panels” by pointing to and commenting on the other panels’ contents. Walter, from your godlike viewpoint, exists simultaneously in four panels-four different “nows,” but when “he” notes this fact, you feel he is transcending his own laws of reality. But, in fact, there is no single Walter, no “his,” no “walter processes like ‘transcending,'” and no actual “laws of cartoon reality.” Your wisdom knows that Walter is in “a state of complete cartoon freedom-he can be anything in any panel,” but you allow “him to” masquerade as a single, time-bound, sentient, causal, entity whose past actions impact the “now panel” and the future panels.
Your ego cannot easily step outside of time, as Walter appears to do, because memory experiences are always far subtler experiences than our other experiences, such as perception, that are happening now. Memory experiences cannot compete with the intensity of other experiences you are having now. Your present memory experiences that are about your past “lives” are happening RIGHT NOW! Memories are thoughts you have right now. When else, eh? In fact, you are not remembering the past-you are, instead, experiencing, NOW, memory-thoughts that you designate as “about my past.” And so, because of the illusion of linear time, the faintness of “memory thoughts,” and the normal workings of the ego processes, “you” cannot see clearly all the various personalities you have been. Instead, the ego is there to assert an identity based upon abstract principles that are manifested in the various instantiations of you. If you get a chance, ask your ego if it thinks you are a set of abstract principles.
The ego seems to be the subjective aspect of the individual nervous system that experiences the objective world. The ego asserts that all the experiences of the nervous system happen to it. Use of the word “I” and other personal pronouns generally indicate that the nervous system is ego-thinking about its history-which is an edited version of the complete history of the individual nervous system’s experiences. The ego can and does “takes credit” also for the “bad” actions of the nervous system-a seeming “honesty”-but, while this “doership theft” strengthens the illusion of sentience and authorship, it in no way proves that ego is a sentient entity.
The ego is based in time, and is properly seen as merely a “panel about the history of panels.” The ego seems to “pull off” this illusion that your continuity over time is proof of sentience. The ego often can be found “operating” in and around other thinking processes that directly or indirectly seem to support the thesis that any object MUST be defined as existing across a period of time. Thus anyTHING has a history-quality which ego insists is “proof of a thing being real.” To the ego, if something does not have a past, it does not exist. The normal human ego cannot believe in the witness which, like Walter in the last panel, is beyond the “time-laws” that the ego “necessarily obeys.”
Walter is not Walter. Walter is a SET of “Walters.” But, nevertheless, your nervous system has been TRAINED from birth to think and act as if there is an individual “Walter.” To do this, you’ve had to engage in an active act of perceptual ignorance (what other panels?) and, delusionally impose a linear temporality (the panel I am reading is the only panel that exists now.) Your nervous system “insists” on viewing “your world” using these exact same “reality tactics” that are used when you view Walter’s world. You actively insist that: 1. You have past panels that are not to be considered as part of the present panel. 2. Your most recent “panel” speaks for all the other panels. 3. You are a single entity when instead you are ALL THIS-a “strip” world in which many illusory entities exist. 4. Viewing the whole cartoon strip at one time is an improper use of the strip.
When you consider your past, you ignore all the differences between your “thousands” of personalities. Consider that you no longer thoroughly enjoy crawling around on the floor looking for a houseplant to dig into-that was your baby personality. You no longer generate thought after thought about opening a cereal box to get a small gift inside it-that was your childhood personality. And so on, throughout life, you are changing so much that there is almost NOTHING in common between all your “many previous lifetimes” except the ever so slow and subtle morphing of one personality into another slightly differing personality. The ego functions as that part of the nervous system that is intimately connected with the morphing process and “presides over” those changes. This “running ego commentary” develops a compelling illusion of sentience.
Ask yourself,How often do I say “I?” Where is my ego most of the time? When I am observing an automated process such as typing or walking, where is my ego’s authorship of my actions then? When I am not using a word like “I,” am I myself?
What is the difference between the experience I have when I mentally say the word, “I” and the experience of self that I have immediately after I mentally ask the question, “Am I here right now?”
Is this “sense of presence” an all time reality? Is this sense of presence an actual part of every experience I have? When I do not have a thought about “being present,” does that somehow lessen my presence?
If someone presented me with a film of my entire lifetime, where would I say “I” appeared? Where would the “person I am now” appear? How many instances would I point to and say, “You didn’t get to see the real me there?” How far back would I have to go in this film to have 95% of the “now me” to be an undetectable potentiality in a “past me?”
What do I have to do to step outside of my world? What do I have to leave behind in this world to do so?