Contemplating no-self and emptiness by Thich Nhat Hanh

In the section entitled “My Father in Me, My Mother in Me” above, we contemplated the presence of the parent in the child, seeing how the child is the continuation of the parent, how the child is the parent, and how the happiness of the child is also the happiness of the parent, and the suffering of the parent is also the suffering of the child. When we can maintain awareness of this, we are contemplating no-self. There is no entity separate and apart from everything else; what we call our “self” is made entirely of “non-self” elements. Emptiness likewise refers to the absence of a self that exists apart from everything else—the way a flower, for example, cannot “be” by itself alone, but rather is made of non-flower elements such as the seed, fertilizer, rain, and sunlight. If you take the non-flower elements out of the flower, the flower no longer can exist. Emptiness does not mean nothingness or nonexistence; it only means there is no such thing as a separate “self” entity. All phenomena rely on all other phenomena to manifest. This is, because that is; this is not, because that is not. To contemplate emptiness is also to contemplate interbeing (sometimes called “interdependent co-arising”). This is in that, and that is in this. This is that. This does not exist without that.

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