Thich Nhat Hanh
from No Death, No Fear, page 125-126:
Ask yourself, 'Where shall I go after this?' Our actions and our
words, which are being produced at this moment, take us in a linear
direction. But they also take us in a lateral direction as they flow
into and influence the world around us. They can make the world more
beautiful and bright. that beauty and brightness can go in to the
future. We should not look for our real selves in just one vertical
When I make a pot of oolong tea, I put tea leaves into the pot and pour
boiling water on them. Five minutes later there is tea to drink. When
I drink it, oolong tea is going into me. If I put in more hot water,
making a second pot of tea, the tea from those leaves continues to go
into me. After I have poured out all the tea, what will be left in the
pot is just the spent tea leaves. The leaves that remain are only a
very small part of the tea. The tea that goes into me is a much bigger
part of the tea. It is the richest part.
We are the same; our essence has gone into our children, our friends,
and the entire universe. We have to find ourselves in those directions
and not in the spent tea leaves. I invite you to see yourself reborn in
forms that you say are not yourself. You have to see your body in what
is not your body. This is called your body outside of your body.
You do not have to wait until the flame has gone out to be reborn. I am
reborn many times every day. Every moment is a moment of rebirth.
My practice is to be reborn in such a way that my new forms of
manifestation will bring light, freedom, and happiness into the world.
My practice is to not allow wrong actions to be reborn. If I have a
cruel thought or if my words carry hatred in them, then those thoughts
and words will be reborn. It will be difficult to catch them and pull
them back. They are like a runaway horse. We should try not to allow
our actions of body, speech, and mind to take us in the direction of
wrong action, wrong speech, and wrong thinking.
If you look for yourself like that, you will be able to see your
continuation into the future. You will not be caught in the idea that
you will be annihilated. You will not be caught in the notion that you
will not exist anymore when you die. The truth is that you are not
permanent, but neither are you annihilated. When the flame of the
candle reaches the end of the wick and goes out, it is still there.
You cannot find it by looking in a linear direction.
You have to find it also in the horizontal direction.