Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Absence of independent existence

"Look still deeper into impermanence, and you will find it has another message, another face, one of great hope, one that opens your eyes to the fundamental nature of the universe, and our extraordinary relationship to it.

"If everything is impermanent, then everything is what we call 'empty,' which means lacking in any lasting, stable, and inherent existence; and all things, when seen and understood in their true relation, are not independent but interdependent with all other things. The Buddha compared the universe to a vast net woven of a countless variety of brilliant jewels, each with a countless number of facets. Each jewel reflects in itself every other jewel in the net and is, in fact, one with every other jewel."

"Nothing has any inherent existence of its own when you really look at it, and this absence of independent existence is what we call 'emptiness.' Think of a tree. When you think of a tree, you tend to think of a distinctly defined object; and on a certain level, like the wave, it is. But when you look more closely at the tree, you will see ultimately it has no independent existence. When you contemplate it, you will find that it dissolves into an extremely subtle net of relationships that stretches across the universe. The rain that falls on its leaves, the wind that sways it, the soil that nourishes and sustains it, all the seasons and the weather, moonlight and starlight and sunlight--all form part of this tree. As you begin to think about the tree more and more, you will discover that everything in the universe helps to make the tree what it is; that it cannot at any moment be isolated from anything else; and that at every moment its nature is subtly changing." [The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Soygal Rinpoche, pg. 37.]

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