The great Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh says if the clouds did not exist we would not exist either. He explains beautifully how interrelated we are with our environment, in fact the very next breath you take to survive is totally dependant on a healthy atmosphere created by the interactions of countless variables like trees, the sun and the ocean. Thich Nhat Hanh calls this self ‘interbeing’ and suggests if you look deeply enough into the back of your hand you can see the whole world there.
There should be a good dose of common sense in our ideas of the self. To say there is no self so there is no need to buy food or pay the bills for our self is obviously an extreme. These days even enlightened beings need to pay the bills. As the old Zen saying goes “before enlightenment chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment chop wood and carry water.” Or a modern version of that saying by Jack Kornfield is: “after enlightenment, the laundry.”
To sum it up – meditating and spiritual practice can reveal a timeless and unbounded dimension to our being but this is not exclusively who we are. The best analogy is we emerge from a vast ocean of consciousness as a time bound individual wave of existence. Whilst we are always connected to the ocean and an expression of the whole ocean we also live simultaneously as individuals swayed by conditions and circumstances.
To enjoy the ride as a wave but to realise you are always the ocean.
To live life is to live on our own individual wave of existence. Being mindful of all the connections that make our existence possible and cultivating positive and healthy relationships to everything. To totally thrive is to be aware of the timeless dimension within, what Buddhist might call Buddha nature, which is where we came from and are constantly connected to that reveals the most profound truth of our complete existence and allows access to deep wisdom, intuition and guidance. That wisdom includes the ability to clearly know what’s healthy for the interdependant self and what’s unhealthy and follow the path that leads to a good healthy life.