Some where I read the following quote, but not sure, when or where? It goes something like this:
“Thoughts are discrete, like the scenes in a movie. When we see the movie, we get the impression, the image of a continuous flow, a chain of events all connected to each other. Yet, they are produced as individual scenes; each with many takes and re-takes, compiled and edited, before the movie is released. Our thoughts are like the scenes or the takes and re-takes in a movie setting. Over the course of time – what we call as life – we come to believe that all of these scenes are part of a continuum. Any one watching the movie can readily relate to the scenes, the actors, the possible take and re-take of the many shots. It is possible to look at our life like that as well”.
The above needs some reflection and analysis. Even though there are many takes and re-takes of a given scene, the editor uses only one of them or some segments of each in the final edit. Even though we have many experiences in life, we do indeed select a few and de-select the rest to weave the movie or our life story. Here is a simple example: Think of any one you have known for over twenty or thirty years. That is a long time! There would have been many events that would have occurred in this long span of time. Some events would even have repeated many times, such as sitting down together for dinner each evening with a family member or saying hello each morning at work place to a colleague of long time. Yet, when we remember this person, it would be for a collection of few moments. Each of these moments remembered will be for something either extremely positive or extremely negative. All the rest are discarded as the cut tapes that have fallen in the trash bin near the editor’s desk! Very few, if any, remember the entire series of events or experiences and thus develop a composite of all our experiences. If we do, may be we will find that all our life stories are nearly identical!
How do we select the shots among the many, to create our life story? Much similar to the movie editor, we have a story line in our mind. Some times the story line evolves with time. At other times they are cast well ahead in the early part of our life. Everything that fits this story line we keep and the rest we tend to edit them out. In due course such story line, its development and its editing becomes identified with me as an “individual” or my “personality”. If we recognize the process of such development of the story line, then all differences among each other as individuals disappear. We find ourselves as part of the same species – the human beings – with the same process of building our life stories. We begin to see ourselves as part and parcel of the larger, the universe, thus co-existing with everything known to us as well as the unknown.
We can be engaged in life and shed tears or have a healthy laughter just as we do, when we watch the movie. But, as soon as we leave the theater, the movie and its story line are distinct and separate from us. To look at life in a dispassionate manner, just like watching a movie, we need the ability to recognize the picture in each frame. Then we can enjoy life, just as we can enjoy the movie. The movie viewing experience can make us one with the story line in the movie. But, we see the separation as soon as we step out of the movie theater. Such ability to observe our own life is part of Self-Realization.
Every scene or footage in each take and re-take in our life is what we call as “experience”. Our thoughts are the record and recollection of our experiences. Between each thought – the period devoid of any experience – there is the silence. Like the movie film, we can look for our experience as the pictures in each frame, collection of pictures in each footage or each reel and ultimately in the final film. As an analogy with Digital Rewind, we also have our mind replay a few scenes frequently. But, just like any recorded medium our mind can only re-wind and re-play only that which has been already recorded (i.e) our experience. But, it can not create the scene, which is not recorded or yet to be filmed!