Saturday, September 03, 2005

2 Quotes on Interdependence

Everything is interdependent. This friendly statement just begins to skim the surface. What Buddhist contemplatives are saying is that in the whole universe right down to the subatomic level, nothing exists purely objectively or purely subjectively. We can say, "Oh, it's mere appearance. I get it." We can focus in and observe that nothing exists in the mind purely subjectively or objectively, that there is profound interdependence. But when we really experience this, our perception of the world as a whole is profoundly altered.

-- from Buddhism with an Attitude: The Tibetan Seven-Point Mind-Training by B. Alan Wallace, edited by Lynn Quirolo, published by Snow Lion Publications

All events and incidents in life are so intimately linked with the fate of others that a single person on his or her own cannot even begin to act. Many ordinary human activities, both positive and negative, cannot even be conceived of apart from the existence of other people. Even the committing of harmful actions depends on the existence of others. Because of others, we have the opportunity to earn money if that is what we desire in life. Similarly, in reliance upon the existence of others it becomes possible for the media to create fame or disrepute for someone. On your own you cannot create any fame or disrepute no matter how loud you might shout. The closest you can get is to create an echo of your own voice.

Thus interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law, or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena, from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests, and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.

-- by Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, from The Compassionate Life

Yes, and I've had it said to me that the moment you "realize" emptiness, or interdependence, which amounts to the same thing, nothing ever appears the way you thought it did.

Here's what the thought of interdependence does to me: it is a goad to action. When I see the images of New Orleans, just as an example, I am aware that there is a connection between myself and the people there. Even my previous posting proves this...gas prices. It moves me to think, there must be something I can do...

At the deepest level, this impulse to action is the bodhisattva do whatever one can to alleviate suffering...This points unmistakably to the central Buddhist teaching that wisdom (realization of emptiness, profound interdependence) is identical with compassion. Tsong Khapa says at some point these two come together. When you stop wavering back and forth between the two, you've got it...

Problem is, for me at least, the sense of interdependence, the impulse to action, is not yet strong enough. Overwhelmed perhaps by the anguish of it all, not able to see the benefits of all-embracing compassion...

Oh, blah blah blah...maybe I'm just too self-centred and lazy.

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