I quit work early to go on a mountain hike in Vermont, about 3 weeks before school started, and there, at the base of Mount Mansfield, my life transitioned from monaural to stereophonic. Instead of everything having an absolute separateness and particularity - such as a tree - I began to recognize that there may be another meaning behind my banal understanding of the world. I didn't know it then, but I would eventually begin to understand that the tree wasn't just a tree, but a part of a whole expression of reality, in which anything that exists has no separate identity - including people. I began to understand that old joke:
Q - What did the Zen student say to the hot dog vendor?
A - "Make me one with everything".