A Short Sharing on Dependent Origination & Emptiness

Thanks to a question by a student, here’s a short sharing on Dependent Origination & Emptiness that I emailed her.

All phenomena are not independently existing in and of itself. Eg, a table that we use, comprises parts that were not table, and have not “tableness”. If the wooden parts had any “tableness” in them, then the tree from which these parts were made from cannot be made into anything else except a table.

Because the parts do not have any tableness, the ‘table’ that we use, arise dependent on the parts + many other factors as conditions. There is no coming, ie no independent table that exist, created or formed.

When the table is taken apart, there are parts that resemble a table, but do not form a table. So once again, there is no tableness in the parts and without conditions, the table ‘disappears’. It disappears in a sense that no table ceased nor was destroyed. Beyond the parts, there is no table that got taken out and thrown away or ceased.

The last part that even while we are using the table, there is still no inherent table, within the ‘table’, the parts or outside of them.

The same applies to all phenomena, to the five aggregates, to our relationship with our family & friends, to our role as a student now and a certain profession in the future. Precisely because all these
relationships and roles are dependent arising, that is why we can be a student, a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a granddaughter, a beloved one at different times, and sometimes simultaneously. However, we do not realise this sometimes. Clinging onto certain roles and how exactly they should be, we sometimes feel lost or out of place when in reality, conditions have changed, and the role we use to play have changed or is no longer suitable.

Realising dependent arising is to realise emptiness of all these, and to realise that with pervasive impermanence, none of these roles are inherent, intrinsic or permanent. On one hand, we learn to appreciate each moment of uniqueness of the relationships’ and roles’ development, thereby cherishing them. On the other hand, we see that no single moment or state of the relationship or roles can be clung on or attached to.

We learn to grow with it, watching mindfully, reflecting on the best course of development that would benefit ourselves and others best.

There are much more applications of this teaching we can apply in our life. I hope this answers your query.

May this understanding aid you and your friends and love ones on your path towards Buddhahood!