Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I rarely purchase books without previewing them by borrowing them from the library first.  I went out on a limb, however, to purchase these two books that were not in my library system:  When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron and Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations edited by Josh Bartok.  Chodron's book was recommended to me on a message board I'm on and I'm getting through it slowly.  It makes a lot of sense to me and I really like her writing style.  One thing I've started doing is meditating just as she describes.  I've said before that I like "daily" books, you know, books with something for each day of the year so that's why I purchased Daily Wisdom.  So far, I am quite pleased with it.  Yesterday's entry really spoke to me--enough that I will type the whole thing out:
With all this talk of non-self-existence and the illusory nature of phenomena we might conclude that ourselves, others, the world, and enlightenment are totally non-existent.  Such a conclusion is nihilistic and too extreme.  Phenomena do exist.  It is their apparently concrete and independent manner of existence that is mistaken and must be rejected.  
Take the example of a rainbow.  Does it exist or not? Of course it does, but how?  As something arising from the interplay of droplets of water in the sky, sunlight, and our own point of observation.  A rainbow, then, is an interdependent phenomenon and if we investigate, we can discover its various causes and conditions. 
In a similar way, all existent phenomena are mere appearances to the mind, lacking concrete self-existence, they come into being from the interplay of various causes and conditions.  This is true of ourselves as well.  We and all other phenomena without exception are empty of even the smallest atom of self-existence, and it is this emptiness that is the ultimate nature of everything that exists.

I've read that passage over a number of times and I still need more time to make sense of it completely.  But what I drew from it is the word "interplay".  I've heard this concept expressed in many different ways but something about the use of the word interplay really resonated deeply with me.  It speaks to the sci-fi lover in me, in a way . . . something only "exists" to the extent that other things "exist".  That's a powerful thought. 
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