Monday, April 4, 2011

THE PERSON WHO USED TO BE YOU

I remember seeing a TV show more than 25 years ago in which the unforgettable Patti Page (pictured opposite, and below) sang a song "The Person Who Used to Be Me,"* good-humouredly contrasting her then present self with black-and-white images of a much younger Page projected on a screen behind her. I understand she has sung that song at many concerts since. Here are some of the lyrics:

Who is that person on the screen?
It is someone I am sure that I have seen.
Though it's been so very long
And I could be very wrong
To believe that the face I see
Is the person who used to be me.

Do you really think you are the same person you were 5 years ago ... 10 years ago ... 20 years ago? Well, in one sense you are, but in another sense you are an altogether different person in body and mind. Even your sense of self this very moment is different from that of even 10 minutes ago, let alone 10 or more years ago. Your sense of self is undergoing constant change as a result of every new experience.

Each one of us is a person who recognizes that there was, yesterday, and even before then, a person whose thoughts, feelings and sensations we can remember today ... and THAT person each one of us regards as ourself of yesterday, and so on. Nevertheless, this "self" of yesterday consists of nothing more than certain mental occurrences which are later remembered as part of the person who recollects them. Never forget that.

Here is a short "sense of being meditation" which I penned many years ago. It is designed to assist you in the task of dis-identifying with “the self”:

I am a person who has a body, but I am not that body.
I am a person who has a brain, but I am not that brain.
I am a person who thinks thoughts, but I am not those thoughts.
I am a person who feels feelings, but I am not those feelings.
I am a person who senses sensations, but I am not those sensations.
I am the reality of me ... the person who I am.
I am not my sense of self ... the false and illusory "I's" and "me's" which well up and later subside within me ... from one moment to the next.
Yes, I am a person ... a person among persons ... a vital part of life’s self-expression.

So, who is this “I” which is ... and is not? It is the person that you are ... not some supposed centre of consciousness from which all things are a matter of observation. You are a person who sees, thinks, feels, senses, acts ... More accurately, you are a person in which there occur, from moment to moment, the various activities of seeing, thinking, feeling, sensing, acting ... Is that not enough for you?


* “The Person Who Used to Be Me”: [from] Here's TV Entertainment / lyric by Buz Kohan; music by Larry Grossman. Fiddleback Music Publ. Company, Inc. & New Start Music. 1983. PAu000584524 / 1984-02-03.


Postscript. Sadly, since I originally wrote and published this post, Miss Paige has passed on. She left us on January 1, 2013, at the age of 85. Rest in peace, dear one. IEJ.


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