Resources to help you embody a sense of awake and connected wisdom
What I call interdependent origination is the embodied insight that arose from full tantric awakening.
What I call tantric awakening comes from awakening every different aspect of experience in both your individual being and the collective experience.
This differs from sutric awakening, which focuses on bringing awareness to the things that are perceived through the mind.
Tantric awakening includes how things are (the physical matter), how things feel, how things appear, what everything means and how this relates to our environments.
It includes our bodies, hearts, minds, souls and environments.
Like with awakening of the mind, in order to get to the bottom of it you have to awaken every aspect of the collective experience, not just your individual experience of it.
So with the mind this includes opening to the collective experience of perception itself – the impermanent changing nature of how things are appearing to arise by themselves in this moment.
With the archetypal realm or karmic forces, for example, this involves experiencing all aspects of this part of experience – going through the experience of allowing it all to express itself through us, not just our own inner archetypal or emotional content.
When we have gone through this process with every aspect of experience, the outcome of awakening everything is an embodied insight into interdependent origination.
This is different to what I am going to call dependent origination, which is the outcome of awakening just the mind. The final realisation of dependent origination is that the Universe is a simulation that our minds create. Our minds create everything, including our bodies. While this is a clever idea and an interesting and potentially liberating way of looking at the world, it is patently false. It doesn’t hold up to basic fact checking and any 5 year old could tell you that.
It’s also not that useful as it tends to leave us in a bit of a disconnected dead end.
In order to describe interdependent origination I am going to need a word to describe the fundamental building blocks of the Universe. In more spiritual contexts this has been called Buddha nature.
For the sake of neutrality, and to distinguish that this is a personal experience that has happened to me, rather than some fundamental truth, I’m going to call it Universe Soup.
Experiencing Universe Soup to me was like an embodied three dimensional rainbow fractal kaleidoscope that was the container for everything and was contained in everything all at once.
The first time I experienced this took an unfathomable amount of build-up to get to, and experiencing it truly scrambled my understanding and felt-sense of life in a way that I will never be able to go back. This is what gave me an embodied understanding of interdependent origination.
I have since experienced aspects of it in different degrees of intensity and in more and more integrated ways. This is how experience presents itself to me – it is the model of the world that my body, heart and mind feels and trusts to be true.
Interdependent origination goes as follows:
- I am creating it: Universe soup only arises because I exist, if I wasn’t here, this aspect of experience wouldn’t exist
- It is creating me: I only arise because Universe soup exists, if there was no Universe soup I wouldn’t be here to experience it
- The Universe is creating it: It is every aspect of the Universe ever that has created Universe soup
- It is creating the Universe: The Universe only arises because of Universe soup
These images show each of them in action. The headfuck is that all of these are happening simultaneously. It’s not really a concept that we can land on – it’s more like an experience that we can simultaneously perceive, feel, embody and know in certain moments to greater and lesser extents.
Remember that the rainbow Universe soup is in all these places at the same time, but that the parts of experience – the Universe as a whole and the beings experiencing the Universe – keep it separate from itself also at the same time. They can’t solely be boiled down to Universe Soup – they are here in all their complexity of expression, too.
Essentially what this is saying is that if you follow cause and effect all the way back, the entire concept completely dissolves; everything becomes a symbiosis that everyone and everything is inextricably enmeshed in together in a way that can’t be solved.
For reasons that I can’t be bothered to explain here I have used a donut to represent the Universe.
The importance of including the karmic and felt sense of our world in the understanding of interdependent origination, as opposed to understanding it purely as something the mind can perceive, is that it allows us to step outside of our individual worldview.
If we believe that it is our perception or awareness that creates experience then when we collapse a sense of cause of effect it seems like there is nothing. The Universe arises from nothing and it is us that creates it.
If we can see clearly that we are only one aspect of the world that is being created, then this changes the entire game. The Universe is inherently alive and full of rich content that we are an expression of.
If we have a sense of nothingness as part of this, then this isn’t an ultimate truth or reality, it is just one thing that can be experienced in the world by one person at one moment. It shows us an inherently interconnected Universe, rather than a self-created or self-centred one.
With interdependent origination, one of the key insights is that there is no one single source of truth or one place that everything has arisen from. It all depends on all the other pieces of the puzzle. This inability for life to solve itself or to land anywhere ultimate or final is the reason why any of it exists.
‘It’ here could be used to describe life, consciousness, the Universe as a whole or experience.
If it was able to solve itself, it would eventually just fizzle out, like a chemistry experiment that had run its course. Or if it could land somewhere solid, it would do that and everything would stop. Or if it could come into unity, then it would become a single machine with no experiencer.
The inability for these things to happen, keeps it in the process; this is what creates life.
If this is confusing for your mind, that is the point – that the mind can’t solve it. We can only show up and open to what is present for us in this moment.
So that is interdependent origination.
The main conclusion is that there is no single source of truth. This means that you can’t boil everything down to some spiritual platitude and things only mean what they mean in this moment to the people that are present. In a different moment, with different beings, the connections would be different and therefore the entire experience and meaning would be different.
Ultimately, we are here to experience this weird thing called life together and go through the process, there’s no shortcut or way out of that. Anything that suggests otherwise is an inspirational quote at best and snake-oil at worst. Hope you enjoy the ride!