Extract from "the Book Of Flint":
It is given to few people in this world to disappear twice but, as he had succeeded once, the man known as James T. Kettleman was about to make his second attempt.
The country outside was invisible. The windows had steamed over, and the train moved as if through an endless tunnel. To Kettleman it did not matter, for he knew every foot of this roadbed and the surrounding country from descriptions which has come to his desk in New York.
The high plain was broken at intervals with long ridges and outcroppings of lava, and in the mountains there was marketable timber. When he began planning his second dissapearance, Kettleman had gone over all available reports and maps.
They were climbing steadily. Ahead were high mesas, more lava, and occasional ruins. Soon the train would slow for a long, steep grade. When that time came he would step off the train into the darkness.
His destination was familiar only from the description given him fifteen years ago, over a campfire, by a man who had often used the place for a hideout. When he left the train he would return to the oblivion from which he emerged fifteen years earlier.
Then James T. Kettleman would cease to exist.
Note: The ancient idea of the world/universe as an 'illusion' has re-emerged in modern physics as the idea of the world and universe as a hologram from string theory (approx 5 minutes into following video)....
Video Interview: Brian Greene: Brian Greene says math is the gateway to reality and calls Stephen a bag of particles governed by the laws of physics. (05:58)
[Also read about the movie Mindwalk for perspectives on physics. Watch it 3 times if possible]
To put it in other words; you are not the person you were a year ago. You know this. You can probably see the ways in which you've changed and grown over the last year. You probably see the world in a different way then you did a year ago (or ten years ago). Since you see the world differently, you have a different image of yourself as well. You define yourself differently than you did 10 years ago. What you are capable of, what you can do, who you are, all these definitions tend to change for every person - given enough time.
The ancient philosophers noticed that as soon as you imagine a event happening to you - or your role in any situation - you first have to place yourself in it (i.e. you have to imagine your role or character) then you decide what to do or how to feel (this all tends to happen very fast for most events). In other words, every time you imagine yourself or a situation that you are in you are, in a sense, recreating yourself.
Scientific American Mind magazine in an interview with the Nobel laureate Neuroscientist Eric Kandel (click here to read article)
Mind: We tend to think of memory as a kind of library that holds a record of events and
facts that can be retrieved as needed. Is this an accurate metaphor?
Kandel: No, memory is not like that at all. Human memory reinvents itself all the time. Every time you remember something, you modify it a little bit, in part dependent on the context in which you recall it. That is because the brain's storage is not as exact as written text. It is always a mixture of many facades of the past event: images, pictures, feelings, words, facts and fiction-a "re-collection" in the true sense.
Modern nuero-science agrees with the Buddhist idea of an impermanent self. As Eric Kandel points out that, "Every time you remember something, you modify it a little bit, in part dependent on the context in which you recall it." In other words you recreate your image of yourself to fit the new situation. If the self was something permanent and real, then your image of yourself would always remain the same. The fact that you can consciously or unconsciously change your image of yourself and react to situations in a new way - or just create a new you - proves that the self is something you make up as part of living in society.
What does this mean?
This means that you are not limited to being any particular 'self' or person. If you feel like you have low self-esteem you can change that self. If you feel like you are not comfortable is social situations, you can change that image too. Any limiting image you have of yourself can be changed as you create your 'self' or how you want to be.