Over ten years ago, one of my disciples in Vietnam had a stupa, a Buddhist shrine built for my ashes. I told her that I didn’t need a stupa for my ashes. I don’t want to be stuck in a stupa. I want to be everywhere.
“But,” she protested, “it’s already built!”
“In that case,” I said, “you’ll have to put an inscription on the front, saying, ‘I am not in here.’” It’s true. I won’t be there in the stupa.
Even if my body is cremated and the ashes are put in there, they aren’t me. I won’t be in there. Why would I want to be in there when outside it is so beautiful?
But in case some people misunderstand, I told her they might need to add another inscription, saying, “I am not out there either.” People won’t find me inside or outside the stupa. Yet they may still misunderstand.
So there may need to be a third inscription that reads, “If I am to be found anywhere, it is in your peaceful way of breathing and walking.”
That is my continuation. Even though we may never have met in person, if, when you breathe in, you find peace in your breathing, I am there with you.
~Thich Nhat Hanh