Who would you be if you were born in another body? Would you be you if you were born to different parents? ...the same parents but at a different time? ...in another country? ...a different gender? ...a different culture?
What makes you you?
Here's a practice for you to try out this week. Each day, think of someone else and imagine if you'd been born into their body, their time, their history. Start easy. Start with someone close to you -- a sibling or cousin. What if that was your time and place to be born? What would be different? Would you still be "you"?
Then, each day, move a little farther out of your comfort zone. Go on the next day to imagine being born as one of your parents. After that, imagine maybe being born as one of your grandparents or someone else in your family. Don't try to change them. Just incarnate yourself in their circumstance, their spirit, their whole life experience. That person is born but it's not them, it's you. Could it be? Would it be?
After that, move out of your family realm into someone you know at work. Who would I be if that was me born into my boss's body? Who would my boss be if they weren't them but me? Would I still be me?
I know it gets confusing but stay with this little thought experiment. And keep moving farther and farther out. Look at people you pass by daily but don't know. Or, more explicitly, someone you don't like. Someone you dislike or fear. Imagine you were born into that person's life, circumstances, culture, skin, body. What is it like to be them -- while you are you? Would you still be you?
At the end of the week, look back at the first part of this practice and think: What makes you you? And, think again. How much do we all really have in common? What if we could embody each other? How different would our collective lives be?