Subhuti then asked the Buddha, “World-Honored One, may I ask you a question again? If virtuous individuals wish to attain the Highest Perfect Wisdom, what should they do to help quiet their minds and master their thoughts?”
The Buddha replied:
“Subhuti, a virtuous individual who wants to give rise to the highest awakened mind must create this resolved attitude: ‘I must help to lead all beings to awakening, but, after these beings have become liberated, in truth I know that not even a single being has been liberated.’ Why is this the case? If a disciple is attached to the idea of a separate self or a universal self, then that person is not awakened. Why? Because in fact there is no independently existing object of mind called the highest awakened mind.”
“In ancient times, when I was living with Dipankara Buddha, did I attain anything called the highest awakened mind?”
“No. There is no attaining of anything called the highest awakened mind.”
The Buddha said:
“You are correct.
“A true disciple knows that there is no such thing as a separate self or a universal self. A true disciple knows that all things are one with all other things, not separate.”
This is a serious and profound teaching. We perceive ourselves to be individual beings that are separate from our environment. This is a delusion. We don’t come into the world. We come out of it. We are connected to other beings and to the world around us in countless ways. Everything contains everything else and everything is connected to everything else. If I buy a carrot at the grocery store, it didn’t really come from the grocery store. A person put labor into it to pull it out of the ground and it was transported there. But, before that it was a seed. That seed was planted in the ground. Rain and sunlight caused it to grow. And, of course, before that it came from a previous carrot. So, when I eat a carrot, it could be said that I am eating the sky. This is what we mean when we say that everything is connected.