The greater view

A friend of mine has been taking care of her ninety-three-year-old mother. The doctors say that her mother will die any day. For more than a year, my friend has been teaching her mother meditation exercises that have been very helpful. She began by watering the seeds of happiness in her mother, and now her mother becomes very alive every time my friend comes around. Recently she told her mother, “This body is not exactly yours. Your body is much larger. You have nine children, dozens of grandchildren, and also great-grandchildren. We are all continuations of you, and we are very happy and healthy. You are quite alive in us.”

Her mother was able to see that, and she smiled. My friend continued, “When you were young, you were able to teach many people how to cook and do many other things. You made people happy. Now we are doing the same thing; we are continuing the work you have begun. When you were young, you wrote poetry and sang, and now many of us write poems and sing beautifully. You are continuing in us. You are many beings at the same time.” This is a meditation on nonself. It helps her mother see that her body is just a small part of her true self. She understands that when her body departs, she will continue in many other forms.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

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