Oct 9, 2019
It’s an enjoyable experience to get lost in a book, to let these words conjure up fairy tales within our imagination. But what if you forgot that you were just reading a book? What if you took those words so seriously, that you believed yourself to be the main character in the story? In that case, it might be helpful to remember that you’re only reading a book, and understand what’s actually happening in the experience of reading.
When reading a fictional book, we’re simply reading a bunch of individual words that have been arranged in a certain order. A word is read, then another word, and another. Each word separate from the last, each word having it’s own meaning. Yet the individual words come together to form a sentence, to create an idea.
There could be the word ‘I’, which conveys the idea that someone is talking from the first person perspective. ‘I’ could be followed by words such as ‘love’ or ‘hate’. This creates the idea that there is a person speaking who is feeling these emotions.
In reality, there is just the word ‘I’ followed by the word ‘love’ or ‘hate’. There is no person, no ‘I’ who is actually speaking, nor feeling those emotions. ‘I’ is just a word. It’s not the word ‘I’ that feels any emotion whatsoever, but you, the one who is reading those words, recalling their meaning, connecting them together, and giving them life through your imagination.
When it’s understood that you are what’s giving life to the story, you come back to understanding who you really are, that the story you’re reading has nothing to do with you, other than that you are engaged in reading it.
Likewise, thoughts are just a bunch of words which you’re reading. You may hear the word ‘I’ in thought, followed by other words such as ‘love’ or ‘hate’. This ‘I’ may be appearing to feel and think all sorts of things. But just as with a book, there is no such character feeling anything, it’s just a word which you’re reading. You are what give life to this fictional ‘I’ by imagining it to be real, and then connecting all the other words in thought to the idea of this person. But who are you that’s reading the story of the ‘I’? Without that story, who are you?