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Hello, My Other Self

One day last week, news of three deaths reached me within a 24 hour period. Two were former clients. One was the son of one of these clients. Of course, this prompted reflection on death—a subject one is already predisposed to consider at my age of 68 years.

Buddhism teaches that we are not a separate self, and since we are not separate and are always changing, we don’t come from anywhere or go anywhere. We are not born and we do no die. We only transform and continue. But the question is, how can we touch this reality in a way that we can feel to be true, in a way that diminishes our fear?

One way is to learn to live each moment deeply and appreciatively. If we touch the wonders of life around us deeply enough, the question of mortality may not even come up.

But another way is to look at all living beings as one’s other self. This is true in the sense that we are all profoundly connected, all made of the same elements of water, air, sunshine, and minerals, all sharing the same fundamental consciousness of wishing to have pleasant experiences and to avoid painful ones. So when I see you, if I say to myself, “Hello, my other self,” I begin to change my sense of who and what I am, expanding it to include everyone and everything.

When we know that our life is in everything and everyone all around us, fear is diminished. We have begun to shed our habitually limited and claustrophobic view of who and what we are. We begin to understand, I was never born, and can never die.

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