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Touch One Thing

The deepest insight of the Buddha is one that, when we first hear of it, can seem a little frightening. This is the insight of anatta, non-self, sometimes referred to as emptiness or interdependent co-arising.

The world we usually inhabit is one of separate boxes. When I look at a cloud, there is a sense of I, something separate, looking at the cloud, another separate thing. And while it may not seem correct to say that I and the cloud are one, it isn’t correct either to say that we are two separate things. What is going on is more accurately expressed with hyphens: me-looking-cloud. Our ingrained ways of thinking and perceiving tell us that these are separate things, but it is more accurate to see it as a unity. Seeing is always seeing something: knowing is always knowing something. There is no knowing and no seeing without a knower and a seer. And while we might need to chop up our world in this way in order to operate in daily life or communicate with another person, this ordinary way of perception isn’t exactly correct.

We feel, however, that we are a separate self, cut off from everything else and perceiving a world out there. And the idea that we are not such a separate self can seem terrifying, seeming to imply that we are nothing or that we do not exist.

Relax friend. We exist. Just not in the way you’re thinking. Everything is intertwined and interconnected. You exist in the cloud and the cloud in you. No self means: you are so much more than what you think. You cannot be separated or alienated from anything else in the universe, no matter how hard you try.

The nature of what is is not-two, no separation, amazing process, wondrous becoming.

When you touch one thing deeply, you touch everything.

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