May 23 : Dependent Arising

Quite a prominent thing in Buddhism is dependent arising, or interdependence, where everyone and everything is in constant flux and constantly in relationship to each other, affecting each other, and being affected by other things. That is just the nature of things; we are not solid, concrete entities. It is not that our skin surrounds us and protects us from everything else in the world and the world does not affect us and we do not affect the world. But rather, all the elements of which we are composed affect the world and the things in our environment. What we think and do affects other people. What they think and do affects us. There is a constant interrelationship.

When we see this, we realise that we are conditioned by what we have encountered in our life and by the people around us, but we see that we are also conditioning them in return. If we look inside, we should ask ourselves, “How do I condition others? What can I do to increase their happiness and their well-being? How can I contribute in a positive and useful way to the benefit of others, considering that we are so interdependent?”

Here is where the themes of love and compassion come in so prominently. When we have an attitude of love and compassion, our body, speech and mind act out that motivation, and our influence and contribution to the world become very positive. Having a positive contribution does not necessarily mean that everything and everybody becomes like what we want them to be. It is more like, from our side, we have a good motivation, and we feel good about it and at the same time, we realise we are not the only conditioning factor in other people’s lives. We put out what we can, take delight and rejoice in that. Then we let go in terms of expecting results because we see that there are so many other causes and conditions going on that we do not have influence over. This kind of attitude helps us to remain much more peaceful as we relate to the people and things in our life, and it is also a more peaceful way to relate to ourselves because we have a very happy and positive motivation for the things that we do.

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!