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June 11, 2008


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Hello Zennist,

Thank you for this thought provoking post.

In my understanding, the teachings on dependent origination are corollary with the doctrines of emptiness (sunyata).

Because all things are empty of self nature, they must be "dependent" on something other than self.

For example, "A" is empty of self because it depends on what is "not-A." Becuase "A" depends on "B", "A" is clearly empty of an independent "self."

At the same time, "B" is only distinguished as "B" because of "A" (if "A" is not posited, "B" ceases to be a meaningful term). Hence, "A" is "A."

Or, as the formula in the prajna paramita sutras put it: A is not-A, therefore it is A.

As Sudhana discovers in the Avatamsaka sutra, each particular thing simultaneously contains and is contained by the "one." And precisely for this reason, every particular thing does so without obstructing any other particular thing (as in the "Net of Indra" or "Principal and Sattelite" teachings.

To use your example of our "thoughts" for instance, we might say, since our thoughts are empty of an independent self, our thoughts "contain" and "are contained" by every "particular thing", and "all things" at once.

Thank you for a great website!


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