The theater I’m sitting in is a technological wonderland of the future. I’m engrossed in the three-dimensional action of the movie that I’m watching, comfortable beyond measure in a seat that seems to disappear beneath me. The screen I’m watching isn’t like any other I’ve seen or imagined. It’s like being inside a sphere but it’s more realistic than that. It makes me think of a snow globe: a transparent glass ball enclosing a snowy landscape with a character at the center. Give it a shake and snow falls over the scene. However, I’m not outside looking in. I’m inside looking out. At least, that’s how it feels. I know I’m somewhere else but darn it, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels as if I’m the character at the center of the action, a person who can look out in whatever direction I choose. In fact, my point of view is fully from inside the character.
The movie I am watching is not a miniature scene like the snow globe; it’s life-sized. I see actors moving about in three dimensions on the immense screen that wraps around me. The voices I hear surround me. Every sense I possess is engaged. I can smell the odors in the air; I can taste the snowflakes when I catch them on my tougue. I can even feel gravity pulling on my feet.
The plot of the story was written perfectly; the characters are nicely developed and are without literary flaws; and the star of the story is perfectly cast. The cinematography is exceptional in spite of the fact that every scene is from the precise perspective of the eyes of the leading character. Is it believable? It definitely is. I’m observing the character from inside the character, walking and talking from that character’s point of view. I see and hear what the character sees and hears. I can even sense what the character is thinking. I’m aware that I’m watching a movie but it feels so real, I am nevertheless drawn to its depths as if I am actually experiencing it.
This imaginary illustration represents the way I view my own personal life experience. I am, if you will, slightly detached from the experience. I’am watching from the inside, rather like watching a movie. But of course, my life experience is much more detailed than that. It includes physical sensations, thoughts and feelings, joys and fears. It’s not a fantasy experience.
Given this perspective, who am I? I have a body but I am not my body. I have a brain but I am not my brain. I have thoughts but I am not my thoughts. I have feelings and emotions but I am not my feelings or emotions. Who am I? I am the observer. I am conscious awareness. I am consciousness itself projecting this life experience onto a hologram-like viewing arena.
Okay, so you’ve read this far and you might be thinking, yes, that’s how I view my life experience too. Alternatively, you might be thinking, hmmm, that’s interesting but I can’t relate. Or, you might be thinking, that’s a bunch of nonsense. Okay, I get it. Whatever. This is my life view. Let me continue anyway.
What happens to the “real me” when my body dies? All of us should be able to admit, we don’t know. If my way of looking at life mirrors true reality, here is how I answer the question. When my body dies, I will not die. The tool I use to perceive this particular life experience does die but that’s not who I am. The life experience I’ve been observing will cease to exist along with all my personal memory of it. It will be replaced by a new experience different from the last one but of equal depth. I assume the new experience will be human in nature but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. The details are simply unknowable to the human me. I find it interesting and even exciting in an odd sort of way to wonder will happen but I am not anxious to rush it. Yet, I have no fear of it either. Many say the ultimate fear is death. Certainly, all the bumps and bruises one experiences in life pale in comparison to death itself. However, if the real me does not die, what then is there in life to fear?
My view of life and death don’t mean that I believe in reincarnation, although I would not say such a belief is impossible. I simply don’t know. Reincarnation means life followed by death and returning to life. My view is continuous life uninterrupted by death. The life experience I’m observing changes, the observer does not, sort of like finishing one movie and moving on to another. I just hope there’s a long enough intermission to refill my bag of popcorn.