This Dharma Glimpse was originally presented on 7/5/2020 as part of my participation in the Lay Ministry Program of the Bright Dawn Center of Oneness Buddhism.
This past week, my wife and I spent a few days in our hometown and wider area of South Jersey together, visiting her parents who both had a few days off. Amanda and I both grew up in South Jersey, where we met in high school and began dating shortly thereafter. We have now been together for nearly ten years and celebrated our second wedding anniversary last month.
Whenever I find myself in my hometown, I can’t help but feel that things look extremely different from what they did when I last lived here just six-is years ago. It is certainly true that my town and home region has changed as more stores have opened, more homes continue to be built and more people begin to move in the area. Yet, this isn’t the only thing that has changed; I have changed as well.
Recently, the Buddhist teaching of “Non-Self” came up as an article of discussion in a class I am taking as a closed-elective for my BA. In this teaching, we arrive at the understanding that as all things are impermanent, so too is there no permanent, non-changing “self”. Instead, we are also examples of results of the constantly changing causes and conditions that we interact with in our daily lives, both physically, emotionally, intellectually and so on. Bearing all of this in mind, the question comes to mind: Who am I?
Today, I am many things. I am a spouse, a college senior, a student in Bright Dawn’s LM program, among countless other roles. These positions, along with the collected amount of experiences I have had thus far in life, help guide me to be the “me” that I am right here, right now. However, this “me” is not static, as with each passing moment I am just the slightest bit different than I was in the previous one. It is even true that within the next year I expect to only continue to be in one of these aforementioned roles, that of spouse, having completed both my current degree program and our time studying together in this program.
As we go forward today, let us continue to ponder the question of “Who am I?” and relate it to the “Who am I?” of yesterday, last week, last year, and so on.