Keiko and I have been talking language; how language defines us, or is a definition of culture to which we relate. I have been contemplating the many layers, known and unknown, that define my place in the world as I experience it. Unfathomable, really. The most obvious and potent for me is as nun, and in a sense it is this layer that helps unravel the rest; the path of Tibetan Buddhism is about recognising the lack of self or ego, by recognising the nature of compassion and wisdom inherent to us all. There is no self, there is no other.
But the process of getting there allows me to greet the myriad aspects of self i have used since time out of mind to define who I am. And each of these provided a framework for my relationship with the world, with other. Now it is nun. Carer of rescue dogs. Australian in wilderness of USA.
As a lay woman, language was defined by my choice to relate to women, at times pierced by hatred and discrimination as the language of other.
Growing up, I was the daughter of a man well-known in my country. Hearing the language of public acclaim.
I come from a family who were first settlers, who made first contact (and sometimes killed) the Aborignal people whose land they invaded. The echo of the language of remorse.
I am layers of onion, as Keiko says. Peeling them can bring tears of sorrow and pain. And joy. I must embrace each aspect to allow it to dissolve. Never to deny the experience of self, yet never to cling. Until the onion is empty of layers, and there is only space and the certainty of compassionate no-self.