“Most people find the concept of not-self somewhat difficult and may also feel very puzzled by it.  “Not-self” does not mean that entities as they are commonly perceived do not exist; it means that the concept of “self” has no absolutely independent existence.  The contents of all our experiences are phenomena resulting from a combination of various conditions.  Any labeling is just an artificial naming and delineation in the inseparable entirety of Buddha-nature… the happiness of one is the happiness of all; the sorrow of one is the sorrow of all… We have to see that the one is in the all and the all is in the one.” Thich Nhat Hanh

We are all connected. Whatever I think, say, or do affects you and everyone. We have no independent existence because everything is conditioned by everything else. Not only are my parents and siblings and nieces and nephews and children and grandchildren part of me, but I am a part of all human beings in Buddha-nature or basic goodness.  When I teach the dharma, it affects all the people I teach; and they in turn affect all the people they know with the dharma that they teach and those people affect all the people they know with their dharma. The insight of the interconnectedness of all beings can help us live in a way that embraces all beings as our brothers and sisters; not in a theoretical way, but in the most fundamental way we actually are all related. When I read or hear about the suffering of people around the world it affects me. My heart aches and reaches out to them. I say “May the virus recede and may all find food and shelter. May all be free from suffering. May all find peace.” I know from the aching of my heart, that the sorrow of one is the sorrow of all. When I see the joy of the people around me, I know from the joy that fills my own heart that the happiness of one is the happiness of all.


Take a moment to think of the ways that you are connected to others; not just the members of your family, but to all beings. Do you have an experience of knowing that you are connected to other beings? Allow that question to be present in your meditation. See what arises.

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