How can a soul have different parts that exist separately? I’d like to ask the question from the opposite point of view: “Why do we think our soul is a separate entity?” The answer is that we think it is separate because we perceive ourselves as separate in our physical form. Is this the ultimate reality or is it only human perception? In the New Testament Jesus is quoted as saying “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” In the Hindu religion they refer to two kinds of self; one with a small ‘s’ and the other one with a capital ‘S’, to indicate we are part of a larger whole. In Buddhism teachers talk about our small mind and big mind. These are all ways of describing something that is beyond our physical perception; a unity that exists as the basis of all creation.

In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, a buddhist monk, gives a talk about visiting Yosemite National Park and seeing the large waterfalls. He notes how all the water is united in the river until it reaches the waterfall where it is separated into streams that resemble curtains of mist falling slowly down until they reunite at the bottom. It takes a long time for this to happen because the falls are so high. He thought how the drops of water must have difficulty falling to the bottom, not realizing they are part of the larger whole. Each drop is part of the larger body of water, but when it is falling it forgets that. It is not until the drops are reunited in the whole that they regain their composure, their one-mindedness that being part of the river provides. Shunryu Suzuki urges his students to use meditation to realize the ‘oneness’ of all things. Realizing the oneness will allow us to be detached from our previously erroneous view of life. On page 95 he states, “When you realize this fact, you will discover how meaningless your old interpretation of life was, and how much useless effort you have been making. You will find the true meaning of life, and even though you have difficulty falling from the top of the waterfall to the bottom of the mountain, you will enjoy your life.”

 

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