Yesterday I heard the words “Teach a person to reason, and they’ll think for a lifetime.”
Dependent arising is referred to as the king of reasonings. Since all things exist in dependence upon causes and conditions, I’m excited for a lifetime of nourishment – every object I encounter is food for thought!
While I thought about the dependent nature of things yesterday, I realized that objects won’t actually appear differently under the scrutiny of this reasoning (at least immediately). The pastry’s still there, my friend is still there, my cup of tea is still there, my taste for chocolate is still there, my desire that my hair look good is still there.
What begins to shift is my internal attitude; how I relate to things.
Without investigating the nature of things, I relate to them with a sense of tightness. Everything appears solidly, confined. Even my own thoughts and emotions appear to force themselves into mind.
No wonder I’m so reactive – believing things to have some solid core, the moment something appears to me to be disagreeable – whammo!! What could stop aversion from arising? When there’s something appearing pleasurable or beautiful, the floodgates of attachment open.
By becoming familiar with the thought that things are dependent, there’s more space within the mind for possibilities. A natural feeling of wonder that smooths out the roughness of the mind enough to make way for virtuous mental qualities to arise.
As long as I unquestionably believe that my beloved chocolate exists objectively as a self-existent entity, I will grasp at it. I will desire it and I will be upset with any person or circumstance that prevents me from getting it. I’ll be disappointed after I finish it and am left feeling empty.
But if I stop to think for a few moments… what is that kiss really? Is it the wrapper? Is it the tip? Is it the base? Which particle of sugar is it? Is it the shape or the color? Is it the smell or the flavor? Is it the texture as it melts in my mouth?
Does it exist by itself? No – it depends on the cocoa beans, the growers, chocolate’s inventors, the factory workers, the Hershey’s corporation, and so on.
It’s not found among its parts, and it clearly doesn’t exist outside of them, yet it does exist. I will come to see how the kiss exists by way of being merely designated by a conceptual mind.
Then, I will taste some relief from the incessant bludgeoning of mental afflictions. Much better than chocolate!
Today, I will continue to contemplate the way in which things exist. I’ll counteract the ignorance which grasps at things as being inherently existent by thinking how depend upon their causes, parts, and the mind that designates them. I’ll apply this reasoning to my body, my car, etc.
With anger and desire subdued, I’ll be able to generate a truly altruistic outlook based in a realistic understanding of the world.