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Saving the Planet by Expanding Our Sense of Self


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Where do "I" end, and where does the Earth begin? In this video, Sensei Alex Kakuyo invites us to explore how our priorities might shift if we relax our bounded sense of self.
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“When Buddhists talk about expanding our sense of self, we simply mean that we take that sense of family that we have for our parents and our siblings and our cousins and our aunts and uncles, and we expand it to include all living things.”

“In order to counteract this illusion of a separate self and the problems that come with it, we must expand our selves to include those things, so that when we look at the trees, when we look at the clouds, when we look at the water, we look at them the same way we look at our own hands. And we care for them like we care for our hands.”

“As we continue to express gratitude for the things that made that food possible, that nourish our body, we gain a connection to them because we realize, again, that they are an extension of us, the same way that our mother or our father, the same way that our siblings are also an extension of us. We expand our sense of family, our sense of self to include all those things.”

Sensei Alex Kakuyo offered this talk as part of Buddhistdoor Global’s conference, Buddhist Voices in the Climate Crisis. See all videos in the series, or view a transcript of this talk.

Picture of Alex Kakuyo

Alex Kakuyo

Sensei Alex Kakuyo is a Buddhist teacher and breathwork facilitator. A former marine, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan before finding the Dharma through a series of happy accidents. Sensei Alex holds a B.A. in philosophy from Wabash College and his life’s work is helping students to bridge the gap between the finite and the infinite. Using movement, meditation, and gratitude practices, he helps them find inner peace in every moment. Sensei Alex is the author of Perfectly Ordinary: Buddhist Teachings for Everyday Life (independently published 2020). His book and other writings can be found on his website: The Same Old Zen. The Ordinary Buddhist is published monthly.
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