What is the “right” way to relate or associate with our friends and loved ones? Is it codependently, independently, or interdependently? Or perhaps it is something completely different.
I will share a brief excerpt from the Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga sutta:
“And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance (avijja) as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.”
While I certainly cannot offer any type of scholarly explanation on this sutta, I will offer my most mindful attempt at an interpretation.
And personally, I see all of this as simply the reality of this life. Which sometimes, reality can be the most challenging thing for any of us to accept.
And I think that sometimes, the Buddha’s teaching would appear to show us a way to escape this reality. But in fact, it is quite the opposite. The teachings clearly show that cause and effect of suffering, and offer a fact-based path to reduce or eliminate our own dissatisfaction with reality.
All of our senses produce feelings, thoughts, and delusions. And if any of them were truth, then we could easily see that everyone likes spicy food. But we don’t all like spicy food, nor do we all like the same smells, sites, sounds, or physical sensations. I may enjoy loud Rock & Roll, while you may have a powerful aversion to the noise. For you, soft classical music may soothe your mind.
Obviously you are not right, nor am I correct in thinking either is right or wrong. And more importantly, these are simply sense conditions. We are allowing one of our senses to dilute our mind into thinking they are something. But the music is simply sound and vibrations in our ear. They do not contain any emotions. The emotions that are created come from our minds ignorance to the pure reality of sounds waves which are vibrating our physical body. And don’t we all easily cling to these ideas?
But how does this all relate to our relations with other beings?
Because we allow similar external influences to distract us from all the reality which is already present. This moment you are alone. You can observe your own mind to examine what arises, and how you may create stories that encourage your escape from reality. Or, you can accept the reality of this moment, the impermanence (anicca) of it, and be overcome with unselfish joy (mudita), equanimity (upekkha) and compassion (karuna).
All of which is actually there for each of us, it’s only a matter of choosing to see it.
And to test this out for yourself, the next time that you are feeling sad, angry or upset, simply ask your self if peace is available. Then look at which one you choose.
And while your primal instinct may be to cling to the suffering (dukkha), please understand that you are not a slave to this habit. This is simply an ancient instinct that was developed out of a necessity to survive. But we are no longer cave dwellers we have evolved, and have the ability to change. Our minds can be retrained and re-molded into wholesome awareness that benefits the self and all other beings. The choice is really ours. And it’s all based on seeing and understanding the reality and nature of this life.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.