The Second Dharma Seal: Nonself (2 of 2)

(In this post, anything in quotation marks will be from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh, as I’ll be referencing it throughout this post.)

This is part 2 of a two-part post.

“The Second Dharma Seal is nonself. Nothing has a separate existence or a separate self. Everything has to inter-be with everything else.”

My husband Mike and I recently had a conversation on whether/how nonself differed or was synonymous with interbeing. He came up with a great metaphor (no surprise – he has a true gift for creating metaphors.). He said: Nonself (aka a separate self) is what our cup is empty of; interbeing is what it’s full of. Brilliant!

My own working definition of nonself, as it differs but is related closely and is inseparable from interbeing: the more I come to see clearly my nonself nature – that I am a collage of an endless stream of causes and conditions – the more my insight of interbeing blooms and flourishes.

“Nonself is not a doctrine or a philosophy. It is an insight that can help us live life more deeply, suffer less, and enjoy life much more. We need to live the insight of nonself.”

“Nonself means that you are made of elements which are not you.”

Once again, how do we practice with this Dharma Seal so that we aren’t at risk of intellectualizing this teaching to a detriment?

Here’s what I came up with for myself.

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Thank Goodness

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it is that there are people who gravitate towards different causes, do different jobs, and are impassioned about different things. In short, as Charles Schulz’s book title states above: Thank goodness for people.

Thank goodness for the writers, artists, and musicians. Thank goodness for those working for human rights and the environment and better treatment of animals. Thank goodness for the grocery store stockers, clerks, and managers. Thank goodness for the long-haul truckers, pilots, and train conductors. Thank goodness for moms and dads, grandparents, and babysitters. Thank goodness for the roofers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, inspectors, painters, and window installers. Thank goodness for those drawn to public service, social work, and mental health. Thank goodness for nurses and doctors and EMT’s. Thank goodness for the local coffee shops and eateries. Thank goodness for the farmers, ranchers, and growers. Thank goodness for administrators, financial advisers, tech people, and CEO’s. Thank goodness for the miners, drillers, and factory workers. Thank goodness for the president and those who serve our government. Thank goodness for teachers and faith leaders. Thank goodness for the staff and volunteers at homeless shelters, suicide prevention numbers, 12-step meetings, and rape crisis centers. Thank goodness for good people drawn to doing good things in a million different ways.

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