As far as I understand it, dependent origination and old-school Buddhism, is saying that the first image is the ultimate truth. Or that if you collapse the boundary between the first and second image, then you are shown the ultimate truth of nothingness. But when you include images three and four, you can see that that would be just another experience that one aspect of the Universe (you) is experiencing at that moment. The rest of the Universe would be carrying on as normal and your experience is one part of that.
With interdependent origination, one of the key points 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.
Each aspect of interdependent origination also relates differently to different aspects of time:
- There is only this moment: I am creating it
- Timelessness: It is creating me
- The infinite flow of time: The Universe is creating it
- The entirety of the past, the present and the future: It is creating the Universe
How do we connect to and awaken these different aspects of experience?
We can only connect with experience through love. Love is the force of giving and receiving that the entire Universe is built on.
The majority of awakening these different parts of experience within ourselves and as collectives is going into the darkness and connecting with it, as these are the parts that are most likely to not already be awakened/ loved/ connected.
Another way that these are enlightened or awakened is that someone can shows us a new aspect of experience that we didn’t know existed and it’s a huge relief or pleasure to discover. The more that awakening is like this, the better. It’s possible to create an environment where this happens much of the time and this is something I am deeply passionate about.
Different types of love allow us to connect to the different aspects of experience. This how we awaken each aspect:
1. I am creating it
Awakening this experience arises from opening to direct energetic and sensate experience with Compassion – the ability to feel and be present in our bodies. For example, feeling the sensation of coolness from touching metal or the sensation of warmth in the body when you feel content.
2. It is creating me
Awakening this experience arises from opening to awareness with Friendliness – the ability to open our minds to allow experience in to our hearts. For example, understanding that we aren’t the centre of the Universe through seeing the impermanent, changing nature of perception itself.
3. The Universe is creating it
Awakening this experience arises from opening to the archetypal realm with Joy – the ability to connect with the story that is unfolding. This could be getting into a flow state, or another aspect of this is realising that life will never be perfect; there is always a part of it that remains dissatisfactory as this is the part that keeps the whole thing going. Joy is the type of love or connection that can bridge that gap and allow us to embrace and connect with the imperfection of the current phase of the story we are in.
4. It is creating the Universe
Awakening this experience arises from opening to everything with Inclusion (aka Equanimity) – the conclusion of this is to see everything at once, so the process of awakening it is through increasing our ability to open to all different aspects of experience and incorporate the bits that we ignore, reject or are deluded about.
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!