What would oneness with others be like? Bernie Glassman used to demonstrate oneness in the realm of manyness by imagining the absurdity of my right hand hesitating to put out the flames burning my left hand, or my right hand stealing from my left hand. It makes no sense. On the news, when we see human beings rushing to the aid of other human beings or rescuing animals, we are often deeply moved. Those people are often simply experiencing natural and spontaneous expression of the precepts. They are no longer moral principles separate from us. They are, in a sense, our very being—and so are other people, dogs, cats, cows, and trees. Others, then, are like my left hand, and I am like my right hand automatically, spontaneously putting out the fire. All of reality is then One Body.

From Opening to Oneness: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to the Zen Precepts by Nancy Mujo Baker © 2022 by Nancy Mujo Baker. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boulder, CO.

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