When we don’t yet have a direct experience of interdependence and boundarylessness things can get a little abstract and vague. For instance, sometimes when first encountering the Middle Way people think, “Well if we can’t find the parameters of self and other it must mean that everything is one.” Have you heard the joke: “What did the Buddha say to the hot-dog vendor?” “Make me one with everything.” But what does that mean exactly? Does it mean that everything is the same? Most of us would argue that we don’t experience the world in that way.
The Buddha didn’t say that everything was one. He said that everything arises in dependence upon something “other.” I think when people say that everything is one, they mean that they feel connected to everything around them—now, this does relate to the experience of interdependence. When we pay attention to language, we begin to understand subtleties that change the way we see things.
– Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, The Power of an Open Question
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.