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To widen the margins on our experience is to begin to include heretofore unrecognized possibilities. Our moment by moment activity is not necessarily directed toward accomplishing something specifically, some specific act, but rather toward functioning in a way that expresses aliveness. This is reflected in the feeling we have when we pick up something with two hands. We don’t treat the world as an object, as something separate from us. We shift from an emphasis on us (i.e., what we feel when we use one hand) to an expression of connection and relatedness (i.e., what arises as we use two hands).
This simple body practice of using two hands can change how we relate to the world and ourselves. However, there is a potential problem: we may become stuck to the notion of using two hands. This is not some strategy for self-improvement or success as though “if I use two hands, I’m really practicing Zen…” Maybe one of our hands is injured, or maybe we only have one hand, so, it may be impossible to use two hands. What’s most important is the “feeling” of using two hands. Then, even if we do something with one hand, we can do it with the feeling of using two hands, with the sense that our hands are actually connected through our arms, our chest, and our heart. Practice is not about the doing something according to some idea or formula, but continuing to express the feeling of warm-hearted connection and care.
Dogen says, “the entire universe is the dharma body of the self.” Our so-called self is a self only to the extent that it is in contact with and disappears into all other selves. So, when we set aside fixed ideas about the self, there is no thing that is not the self. And we may meet ourselves everywhere, in all things. This unbounded aliveness is non-otherness. It is expressed in our daily lives through empathy and kindness.
A verse adapted from Layman P’ang:
In the ten directions, the same congregation
Each and every one practicing non-otherness
Minds empty, connected with each arising
This is the place where Buddhas are chosen