Interdependency with Others
The last point, really the same point,
is our interdependent-ness or interconnected-ness
with other beings. Look at your life from
morning until night. In the morning, you
brush your teeth with your toothbrush, made
in China. The toothpaste comes from some
other state. Your clothes come from Europe.
Your car comes from Japan. To be able to
brush your teeth, take a shower, get dressed,
and eat, you are already dependent upon
millions of people. Who grew your food?
Some farmers somewhere. And their parents
raised them. So you are related to their
parents. You depend on their parents to
give birth to the children who grow your
food. So, you are related to and depend
on everybody in the world. We do depend
on each other, right? That's what Buddhist
compassion is based on. It's based on truth,
the fact that we really are related and
do depend on each other. That's why we should
be compassionate to everyone, be kind to
everyone. "Love your enemy" is
what Jesus said. Buddha says the same thing.
Love your enemies. Not only should
you love your own parents, your family,
your friends, but you should love your enemies.
Because if you don't love your enemies,
how can you help them change? If you hate
your enemies, you just reinforce the hatred,
you will be fighting hatred with hatred,
and you will never be able to change them.
The vicious cycle will never end. What happens
when your brother makes a mistake? You teach
him patiently because he's your brother.
That's why you should love your enemies.
It's only when you love your enemies that
you can hope to change them.
So, who am I? Have I annihilated you? No.
When Buddha says "no self," he
does not mean that you do not exist. Buddhism
is not nihilistic. Emptiness is not nothingness.
Emptiness means that everything has no intrinsic
identity, that there's no such a thing.
Your body is not independent. You depend
on water, air, food, a lot of things, and
those things in turn depend on everything
else in the world. Everybody in the universe
is related to everybody else. Interdependence.
Our karma is all mixed together. Karma means
action. Our actions are all mixed together.
Our personalities influence each other.
So that's what we mean by emptiness. There's
no absolute individuality, no individual
existence. That's liberating. Why? Because
when you are empty, when you realize that
you are empty, then you can be everything.
If you work from the right cause, then you
can be anything you want. That means we
all have infinite potential. Buddha says
we all have the Buddha nature, the potential
to be fully awakened to Truth, to become
Buddhas. That's another thing that fascinates
me about Buddhism. Compared to other religions,
it's fascinating that everybody can become
the perfect being. Buddha achieved "no
self." When he became enlightened,
did he just poof and disappear?
The body is still there—the body is
still interdependent with other things.
But all the Buddha's actions, and all his
speech and thoughts were beneficial to the
world, and he was in perfect peace. So it's
okay to let go of this illusion of individuality.
After all, your individuality is temporary;
your personality is also temporary and ephemeral.
You can change your personality if you want.
Even if you don't change, in this life you
have this personality, in the next life
you will have another personality. Whether
you believe in rebirth or not, that's what
happens. So that's what's empty. It's like
empty space. Empty space can accommodate
anything, can embrace and encompass everything.
When your mind is empty, you can be anything.
Along with this understanding comes the
realization that we are all like that. We
are all infinite, unlimited. That's what
we call purity. That's the intrinsic
virtue or intrinsic purity that we can achieve.
When you are in that state, you cannot do
anything to harm anybody, because you become
one with all things and all beings. That
doesn't mean that somehow our lives merge
together. No, you're still you, but "you"
are inconceivable and indescribable. That's
why Buddha says "no self." Any
characteristic that you can use to describe
yourself is not intrinsic; it is changeable.
But that's okay. By understanding "no
self," you haven't lost anything. What
is there is still there (albeit ephemerally).
What is already there? …
I'm speaking now, can you hear me? Can everyone
hear me? (Yes.) You say you can hear me
and understand me. You perceive. This "knowing"
itself. Do you have it? Yes? Tell me, this
knowing, which you all individually possess—is
it male or female? You look like a man,
you look like a woman, and if you want,
you can get a sex change operation. Gender
is delusion. But this "knowing"
is not. You've always had this knowing.
Nobody gave it to you; nobody can take it
away. Somebody can take your body away,
take your possessions and your sensations
away, but nobody can take this knowing away.
It existed before Buddha was enlightened,
before you were born, and will exist after
you die. It cannot go away. This "knowing"
is beyond gender, beyond feeling, beyond
form. You use it every moment. You are using
this knowing to hear me now. That is a fact.
That is experience. Try to feel it. This
is not theory or philosophy. It is reality.
This is your Buddha nature. If
you fully manifest it, you are the Buddha.
And yet, you cannot describe it. I call
it "knowing"; you can call it
awareness, you can call it consciousness,
soul or spirit, but actually this knowing
is consciousness before it acts. This knowing,
sentience, awareness, is neither big nor
small, neither Chinese nor American, neither
Japanese nor Indian, neither black nor white,
neither rich nor poor, neither ugly nor
beautiful. Do you know what I'm saying?
This is it. It is this knowing. That's why
we are all fundamentally equal. This knowing
is indescribable and that's why there's
"no self," no self characteristics.
But it could be any self. That's why we
are so different. You learn to behave and
react in a certain way. But if you want
to change, you can change. So emptiness
is liberating; "no self" is liberating.
You can change any habit that you have.
You can quit your addiction to computer
games if you want. You can do anything.
You can be a Nobel laureate. You can be
a monk like me. You can attain perfect wisdom
and compassion and be a Buddha. So when
you understand "no self," you
can be all these. That is freedom; that