One is All, All is One

During a dharma talk at the New York Zen Center, one Philosophy PhD student from London asked Zen Master Dae Kwan a question. 

Student: If our Buddha Nature is the same, how can everyone be unique? If everyone is unique, how can we be the same?

Zen Master: When the sun shines upon the ocean, the ocean water turns to water vapour. Water vapour accumulates and becomes clouds. Clouds flow to the east and rain, then rain becomes rainwater. Rainwater goes to the drainage and becomes drainage water; goes to the reservoir and becomes reservoir water; comes to our apartment and becomes tap water. We use the water to make coffee, and water becomes coffee. When it is mixed with tea, it becomes tea. So ocean water, water vapour, clouds, rain, drainage water, reservoir water, tap water, coffee and tea are all unique as they are, but their H2O substance is the same. Does that make sense to you?

Student (nodding her head with a smile): You have cleared the clouds in my understanding. Thank you very much.

Commentary: One is All, All is One. Understanding cannot help us to taste this; only through meditation can we experience this directly. When this experience becomes yours, you will appreciate the uniqueness in each thing, but at the same time you’ll taste true equality and wisdom.