Lesson
3

The Nature of Reality

3 of 5

All things in dependence on others

When we see something or somebody, we often perceive it or them as whole, a thing, a person. But wholes are made up of parts; without parts, there can be no whole; without a whole, the concept of parts makes no sense.

Consider the "apple tree." It is made up of roots, a trunk, branches, leaves. . . And each leaf is made up of parts. And the tree may be part of an apple orchard, which may be part of a farm, which may be part of the agricultural system of a community, and on and on.

Consider yourself, your physical body. You have a conception of "my body". But that body is made up of parts — face, arms, legs... Look in a mirror; your face is a collection of parts. Look at your eye; what makes up your eye? Reflect on the parts that make up "you" and then reflect on the parts that make up each part. You can keep doing this. . .

How about your "personality"? Try describing yourself and then examine the properties or qualities you used in your description.

No independent reality

When we investigate the world this way, we see that all phenomena can be understood to be dependently originated because, when we analyze them, we find that, ultimately, they lack independent identity.

Do you not consider yourself an independent entity — "me" or "William" or "Anna"? Are you also not part of a family, a community, a society, a nation , etc., in addition to the parts which when collected together you identify as "myself?"

How we refer to phenomena helps us understand the relative nature of what we perceive as independent identity. For example, when we ask, "What is a...?" What exactly is an apple tree? Or for example, how we describe things: you are a parent, you are a son or a daughter, you are a farmer if you work the land, a mechanic if you repair engines...

What are the dependencies that contribute to one "being" a daughter, a father, a widow, a teacher...?