Almost all of us live our life thinking and feeling that we are enclosed in a container of self that we call ‘me’. Usually there is a sense of an entity somewhere in our head out of which we relate to the world as outside and separate, and as the physical body as our possession. We believe our thoughts can act as a controller, and the body as our container. Looking closely and thoroughly, we can’t actually find the container or controller; we can’t find separation other than in our thinking mind, we can’t find it other than in our thoughts of being separate.
The following is a guided meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh on Limitless Life.
Lord Buddha, I see that this body made of the four elements is not really me, and I (the supreme ‘I’ we share with all beings) am not limited by this body. I am the whole of the river of life of blood and spiritual ancestors that has been continuously flowing for thousands of years, and flows on for thousands of years into the future. I am one with my ancestors and descendants. I am life that is manifest in countless different forms. I am one with all species whether they are peaceful and joyful or suffering and afraid.
I am present everywhere in this world. I have been present in the past, and will be there in the future. The disintegration of this body does not touch me, just as when the petals of the plum blossom fall it does not mean the end of the plum tree. I see that I am like a wave on the surface of the ocean. I see myself in all the other waves, and all the other waves in myself. The manifestation or the disappearance of the wave does change the presence of the ocean. My spiritual life and Dharma body are unborn and undying.
I am able to see the presence of my Self before this body manifested, and after this body has disintegrated. I am able to see the presence of my Self outside of this body, even in the present moment. Eighty or ninety years is not my lifetime. My lifetime, like that of a leaf or of a Buddha, is immeasurable. I am able to go beyond the idea that I am a body separate from all other manifestations of life, in time and in space.
Lord Buddha, I touch the earth three times to see the no birth, no death nature of myself and to let go of the idea that I am a body separate from all other manifestations of life.