The real me

What is it that makes something truly significant? This has been popping up in my thoughts one way or another these last couple of weeks. It struck me that only what we experience is real, real for us. I can understand what exercised Bishop Berkley now. Reality is continually expanding and contracting according to our state of awareness. One of the bad things about being ill is that the preoccupation with bodily pain and discomfort shrinks the circumference of perception to the limits of that body. The universe becomes a bed of pain. The glory of the night sky, the extravagance of sunsets, the light-hearted laughter of children, the lazy buzzing of flies on a summer day, all these cease to have existence and meaning. Only the constricted and contracted me exists, only what goes on within the tight circumference of the body is real.

This raises the scary question of which is the real me. Is the real me just a fluctuating bubble of awareness which has had its moments of expansion and will one day shrink until it disappears without even a discernible pop. You can see this in old people as they sit for most of the day in their armchairs, dozing and gazing vaguely and the television. Their world is confined to fading memories of ancient excitements. The mind recoils and refuses to be so extinguished, even though it knows that it has no control over what happens to it, even though it is aware that one by one its memories are slipping into the dark pool of forgetting. Let them out of sight for too long and they slide away unnoticed and are gone. Is this it? If it is, nothing is real. Meaning is the feeling of this moment. I cannot accept this but on the other hand this is what experience shows me. Is there another experience? Can one break out of the confines of this oh-so-limited and puny body/mind?

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