Imagine this scenario.
Your name is John and you are 40 years young. Today is your birth day. Your parents took pictures (photos) of you on all your birth days. One picture is taken just now. All the pictures are numbered – John #1 to John # 40 and displayed on the wall. We are both looking at them.
Our dialogue may go like this –
C S: Which one of these 40 pictures are you?
John: All are mine.
C S: None of the 39 pictures look like you except John # 40!
John: I was like each one of them in the past.I have been changing a little every year.
C S: You mean the 39 Johns are only your past images or memories of you?
John: Of course.
C S: Can you see any of those 39 Johns who were real and living some time back, any time, anywhere in the universe?
John: Never. All of them have disappeared forever.
C S: What do we call the people who were living in the past but can never be seen any more?
C S: Are you saying that all the 39 JOHNS are dead and only JOHN # 40 is alive?
John: How do you call John dead? I am very much alive in this form!
C S: Yes only John # 40 is ticking with life. All the other Johns do not exist anywhere nor will reappear any time which means they are as good as dead. They exist only in imagination.
John: I am very much attached to all my past selves though they are no more. Even to imagine them dead hurts my feelings.
C S: You mean that you, the living John # 40, are fond of and emotionally attached to the 39 dead Johns. You do not seem to have any awareness or attachment to John# 40 pulsing with life inside you right now. Is it because you enjoy the memory of the 39 dead Johns or because you are helpless in carrying their memories or you just got into the habit of ignoring the living self and being busy with the past selves?
The imaginary dialogue with John ends here. Now consider these thoughts –
The visible changes noticed in John’s yearly pictures did not take place suddenly on the nights preceding his birthdays. He was changing a little bit every day though these changes can not be seen with the limited capacity of our senses, just as the naked eyes can not see any thing less than 40 microns which is the smallest visible dot you can make on a paper.
Imagine that the pictures were taken every month instead of every year. Then there would be one living John # 40 and pictures of 468 dead Johns (39 times 12) with real differences that we can not see. Go one more step. A picture taken every day will show 4416 dead Johns. One picture every hour will be 105984 dead Johns. There can only be one living John at any point of time but there are infinite dead Johns with infinitismally small but real differences.
John is obviously unaware of the one and only living John # 40 with a pulsing heart and lungs. By his logic, he will become aware of John # 40 only when he becomes John # 41 and John # 40 also dies. This phenomena of totally ignoring the only living John will continue indefinitely till the final John dies. What should we call this? – funny, ironical or stupid? What causes this strange behavior?
How simple, lighter and happier will our lives be if we can find a way to be naturally and spontaneously aware, at every instant, of just the present self pulsing with life and be free from the habitual or compulsive burden of the infinite dead selves? Can we detach ourselves from the infinite selves that are dying at every moment and giving birth to the one and only ONE LIVING SELF?
How can we do it?