I was browsing the Lion’s Roar website earlier this week and thought I’d share an excerpt that stood out to me from one of their articles. I am always in search of peace, betterment, and contribution and there was a lot about the teaching of Won Buddhism in this article that made me feel closer to achieving those first two. And deciding to share it here with you fulfills the third. My highlights are in bold:
In Buddhism, interdependent origination is the law of causality. According to this fundamental concept, everything is part of a web of interconnection, depending on limitless causes and conditions undergoing a continual process of transformation. In other words, nothing exists as independent, permanent, or fixed. This is called emptiness or the empty nature of reality. All dharma teachings are based on and lead us to a realization of this interdependent and empty nature of reality. This realization—that all phenomena are woven together—enables us to live a life with infinite wisdom, joy, and compassion for all.
Sotaesan was the founder of Won Buddhism. His definition of the word “grace” (EunHye in Korean) describes the interdependence and interconnection of everything in the world. In order to understand this, Sotaesan asks us to consider life without our relationships with other people.
For example, let’s think about a glass of water. Before we can have a drink, we have to get water from a faucet and pour it into a cup. The faucet is connected to a pipe that is attached to multiple other pipes that are hooked into a water tank. Countless people have worked to perfect this water-delivery system. Beyond all this, there is the glass itself, which we use to hold the water. Different people had to design, manufacture, deliver, and sell this glass. Numerous causes and conditions come together just to allow us to drink a cup of water.
Whoa. I never stopped to think about how much effort went into my water. And water is something I use all the time. I abandoned drinking sodas almost completely (my limit is 5 per year and I generally don’t even get that high) and, in the rarer occasion I have an iced tea, I water it down significantly to reduce how much sugar I am ingesting, while also maintaining the sweet taste. That means I am drinking water constantly: at every meal, when I am thirsty, when it’s time to take a pill, and to filter through my Brita. And I never stopped to consider how much I could take such a simple thing for granted by such an extreme.
Now imagine for a moment what it feels like when you expand this concept out to far more complicated technology. I’m writing you from my desk, which has a computer, a typewriter, a mouse, and an internet connection. All of these things have their own individual webs of human connection that we don’t often think about. What if those people are having their own personal struggles and need a voice that’s heard? Are they happy at work? Do they have a good boss? How’s their dating life? What if I know one of the people that assembled one of these tools that I use everyday? And, what if it’s someone who isn’t my friend?
The point is that the next time you’re feeling hurt or flustered, take a minute to think about the people who brought you the luxuries of your own life. They’ve all been your behind-the-scenes cheerleaders who have sustained and carried you to where you are. They were supporting you when you didn’t even know it. They wanted you to succeed and find happiness, even if it was just for one moment.
And, if that isn’t enough, then have a glass of water with me.