There is No Separate I

Why are all sane people changed, purified, transformed, or at least settled down from any disturbing mood, when they are out in “nature”? Why is this experience so medicinal, it appeals across cultures and times, and justly celebrated in every art that has ever been created?

Because, in nature, people sense that they are in the presence of “something” (even an experience, as “something”) which has no separate “I.” There is no ego there, whatsoever. After spending their day-to-day lives contending with the forces of other people and their compartmentalized “I”s, and constantly needing so much energy to navigate through that, nearly every hour of every single day of their lives, to be in the presence of “something” which has not one iota of anthropic mind, there is only great release, full letting go.

There is no “I” in the natural world.

And yet if you try to explain the Buddhist insight into the non-existence of “I,” people freak out or think it is some impossible concept to grasp. Something that needs retreat upon retreat stacked up to penetrate through.

But it’s as near as the front door to one’s own house. And yet — it’s even closer. It’s right where you are.

This is why, when someone would ask a persistent question, or refused to be guided toward finding an answer in themselves, in the depths of their own mind, Dae Soen Sa Nim would often say, “Go ask a tree. The tree will have a very wonderful answer for you!”