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“One of my students has studied Aikido. He said his teacher told him something that was the most important thing he ever heard. His teacher said, “You are you”. I agree with his teacher and add that because you are YOU, I am you, and you are me.

I don’t mean that you are the little ego self “you”. I mean YOU are all beings. You are the redwood tree and the rattlesnake. You are a Mexican immigrant illegally crossing the U.S. border. You are a scientist making nuclear weapons at Los Alamos. You are an African-American imprisoned on Death Row, and you are a rich, white, male Republican.

This practice allows us to be liberated through our differences into the experience of non-separateness. Every time you create an “other”, then you are not YOU. Every time you objectify, there is less of you. Every time there is a self and there is another, you have been diminished.

If you are YOU, then you are a Bodhisattva. If you are doing good things for others…like serving as a caretaker for the sick, working for community development through the arts or reforming the prison system…then you are one of these enlightened beings who has chosen to live in the burning house of worldly existence. You have chosen to come back and experience birth and death again and again to really serve beings who are suffering. If you realized awakening and then said, “To heck with the rest of the world”, your awakening would not be “You are YOU”.

Upon awakening, the Buddha said, “I and all creation simultaneously realize the Way.” That was how the Buddha said, “You are YOU.” Bodhisattvas help unawakened beings see that they, too, realize the Way, and that they are YOU…..” ~ excerpt from this article, which was Edited by Marsha Scarborough and Joan Halifax Roshi

This article (PDF) is sourced from Upaya Zen Center.


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