Interconnected

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Interconnected

Postby Samma » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:38 pm

This is a Buddhist idea I have come across several times, and I'm wondering if you guys can help shed some light on its development or possible pali canon sourcess. It often seems to come in a form of "everything is one" kind of teaching, and out of zen specifically. "The translation "Interbeing" is a word coined by Thich Nhat Hanh to represent the Buddhist principles of impermanence and the nonself characteristic which reveal the interconnectedness of all things." (wikipedia). The idea seems to be a reform on dependent origination as "Interdependence"?

Thanissaro, shapeofsuffering:
unlike later Buddhist teachers, the Buddha did not see the interconnectedness of conditions as something to celebration. He saw that it inevitably leads to dukkha. (p.11)


Interconnectedness is tossed around a lot and seems to be what many non-Buddhists think Buddhism is about. Andrew Olendzki begs to differ and instead calls it a Western idea (partially derived from the Great Chain of Being, for example) that has been grafted onto Buddhism.
http://www.tricycle.com/p/1846


Thanissaro also writes a bit about how interconnectedness comes out of Western psychology and nineteenth-century Romanticism.
Modern society, they saw, is dehumanizing in that it denies human beings their wholeness. The specialization of labor leads to feelings of fragmentation and isolation; the bureaucratic state, to feelings of regimentation and constriction. The only cure for these feelings, the Romantics proposed, is the creative artistic act. This act integrates the divided self and dissolves its boundaries in an enlarged sense of identity and interconnectedness with other human beings and nature at large. Human beings are most fully human when free to create spontaneously from the heart. The heart’s creations are what allow people to connect. Although many Romantics regarded religious institutions and doctrines as dehumanizing, some of them turned to religious experience—a direct feeling of oneness with the whole of nature—as a primary source for rehumanization.
http://www.tricycle.com/feature/romancing-buddha


So is this mainly a source of western input on eastern thought, or are there also some other roots? Maybe some vedic intermixing? A tricycle comment "It's worth noting that a universal sense of connectedness was one of the central concepts of Vedic/Hindi religion, and was called brahman."
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Re: Interconnected

Postby reflection » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:23 pm

It's not an idea you find in the earliest texts (at least not often enough to be of significance), however you can use it as another way of explaining anatta (no self). So in that sense its main root is the Buddha's teachings. Thanissaro has another idea of anatta as do a lot of others, so its not surprising he does also not acknowledge the relation with interconnectedness.

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Re: Interconnected

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:34 pm

The nearest thing to a concept of interconnectedness in the Pali Canon that I could find is this:

"Just as the River Ganges inclines toward the sea, flows toward the sea, and merges with the sea, so too, Master Gotama's assembly with its homeless ones and householders inclines toward Nibbana and merges with Nibbana."
Majjhima Nikaya 73.14
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Re: Interconnected

Postby mirco » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:47 pm


It also can be found at Theravadan Dhamma teachers who follow the suttas: 29 times interconnected at dhammasukha.org.

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Re: Interconnected

Postby Samma » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:55 pm

thanks guys. sorry mirco what is the above link pointing to?

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Re: Interconnected

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:59 pm

Greetings,

All I have to say on this topic for the time being is that any notion of being "interconnected" or "interbeing", has no direct connection whatsoever to paticcasamuppada (dependent origination), no matter how many people try to rope paticcasamuppada into the equation.

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Interconnected

Postby Samma » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:09 pm

Well looks like I've managed to trace it back to 600-700 CE, but any comments are appreciated.

The Huayan developed the doctrine of "interpenetration" or "coalescence" (Wylie: zung-'jug; Sanskrit: yuganaddha),[23][24] based on the Avataṃsaka Sūtra, a Mahāyāna scripture. It holds that all phenomena (Sanskrit: dharmas) are intimately connected (and mutually arising). Two images are used to convey this idea. The first is known as Indra's net. The net is set with jewels which have the extraordinary property that they reflect all of the other jewels. The second image is that of the world text. This image portrays the world as consisting of an enormous text which is as large as the universe itself. The words of the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world. However, every atom of the world contains the whole text within it. It is the work of a Buddha to let out the text so that beings can be liberated from suffering. The doctrine of interpenetration influenced the Japanese monk Kūkai, who founded the Shingon school of Buddhism. Interpenetration and essence-function are mutually informing in the East Asian Buddhist traditions, especially the Korean Buddhist tradition.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_ ... saka-sutra
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Re: Interconnected

Postby mirco » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:32 pm

There is interconnectedness, but not as an romantic vision.
But other people can explain better then me.

As you can see as we go along the 8-Fold Path these different factors are interwoven and are not separate parts to be taken apart and used. The entire 8-Fold Path works together as an interconnected whole process of seeing understanding and letting go of all personal beliefs in a self. In a way, you could see the different parts of the 8-Fold Path like they were separate pieces of a motor. The motor won't run unless all of these parts are put together correctly. When one uses all of the different aspects of the 8-Fold Path, at the same time it is the way of making this Path a good working tool. Separately these parts may work to a limited degree but when they are all incorporated into the 8-Fold Path at the same time it works so well that Nibbāna can arise, even today!
The Eightfold Path in Practical Terms


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Re: Interconnected

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:50 am

Samma wrote:Well looks like I've managed to trace it back to 600-700 CE, but any comments are appreciated.


I believe this concept goes back much earlier than that date, to early Hinduism and even Brahmanism.

This school had its beginnings in the thought of Uddalaka, a ninth-century B.C. philosopher who posited a "root": an abstract principle out of which all things emanated and which was immanent in all things. Philosophers who carried on this line of thinking offered a variety of theories, based on logic and meditative experience, about the nature of the ultimate root and about the hierarchy of the emanation. Many of their theories were recorded in the Upanishads and eventually developed into the classical Samkhya system around the time of the Buddha.
http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Mulapariyaya_Sutta


Here is a pretty cool quote by the Buddha:

"He perceives the All as the All. Perceiving All as the All, he conceives things about the All, he conceives things in the All, he conceives things coming out of the All, he conceives the All as the All as 'mine,' he delights in All as the All. Why is that? Because he has not comprehended it, I tell you."
Majjhima Nikaya 1

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Re: Interconnected

Postby Samma » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:21 am

Yea probably tend to be similarities with interconnection, unification, ground of being. Thanissaro's analysis is pretty damning, people who talk of unification as end goal have missed the mark:
Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.


Also reminds me near conclusion of Analayo's book "nibbana: neither all-embracing unity nor annihilation"
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Re: Interconnected

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:58 am

Samma wrote:Yea probably tend to be similarities with interconnection, unification, ground of being. Thanissaro's analysis is pretty damning, people who talk of unification as end goal have missed the mark:
Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.


Also reminds me near conclusion of Analayo's book "nibbana: neither all-embracing unity nor annihilation"
Please link/cite source for this.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Interconnected

Postby daverupa » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:53 am

tiltbillings wrote:
Samma wrote:Yea probably tend to be similarities with interconnection, unification, ground of being. Thanissaro's analysis is pretty damning, people who talk of unification as end goal have missed the mark:
Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.


Also reminds me near conclusion of Analayo's book "nibbana: neither all-embracing unity nor annihilation"
Please link/cite source for this.


In Analayo's Satipatthana, back in section XIV.4 nibbana: neither all-embracing unity nor annihilation & starting on page 262, there is some discussion about 'experiences of oneness' and 'unity' and how these experiences, not unknown to the early Buddhists, were carefully distinguished by the Buddha from nibbana.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Interconnected

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:44 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Samma wrote:Well looks like I've managed to trace it back to 600-700 CE, but any comments are appreciated.


I believe this concept goes back much earlier than that date, to early Hinduism and even Brahmanism.

This school had its beginnings in the thought of Uddalaka, a ninth-century B.C. philosopher who posited a "root": an abstract principle out of which all things emanated and which was immanent in all things. Philosophers who carried on this line of thinking offered a variety of theories, based on logic and meditative experience, about the nature of the ultimate root and about the hierarchy of the emanation. Many of their theories were recorded in the Upanishads and eventually developed into the classical Samkhya system around the time of the Buddha.
http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Mulapariyaya_Sutta



Hi David,

This is just a clarification, but from my understanding the Huayen philosophy (what Samma quoted) is quite different.

It's basically an elaboration on sunyata (the emptiness of self)... except it was done with a specific attempt in describing it in a positive way, rather than in the negative. (I.e., "this is what self is," rather than "this is not self.")

From my understanding, if it's approached correctly the end-result is effectively the same.

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Re: Interconnected

Postby pegembara » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:45 pm

Interbeing is somewhat related to iddapacayata (conditionality). But instead of using it in the classical DO formulation, it is applied to other things. It is still Dhamma. I am not too familiar with TNH's teachings but I don't see him saying that I am everything, I am everywhere, only that all things exist due to causes. The corollary is when the causes aren't there they ceased.

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-“ with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.


"When this does not exist, that does not come to be; with the cessation of this, that ceases.
When there is no ignorance, volitional formations do not come to be. When there is no consciousness, name & form does not come to be. When there is no name & form, the six sense bases do not come to be etc


Or according to Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

When in the middle, there is the realisation that everything is just changing, flowing, according to the law of idappaccayata (this being, that becomes; this being, that becomes; this being, that becomes . . . ); it is the eternal process of cause and effect, an effect being the further cause of other effects. This is what is going on in the middle. We can also see this as the process of Dependent Origination (paticcasamuppada). This is the law of nature. When the mind is pulled off into extremes, it isn’t able to see or understand this law, but when we come back to the middle and there is balance, then things, reality, nature, life, is understood as flowing according to the law of: this is, that becomes; this is, that becomes; this is, that becomes . . . To be at the centre is to see that there is nothing outside this law; it is to make no distinction between anything.

Just to revise my translation of idappaccayata, I would like to so that ‘this is, that becomes’ isn’t quite right. When everything is realised according to the law of idappaccayata, then there is no longer any ‘this’ and ‘that’, there is only ‘this’—’this is, this becomes; this is, this becomes’. When this is understood fully, there is no distinction between’this’ and something else. Everything is just ‘this’. There is no division and separation of self and others, of me and them, of us and they. These distinctions no longer have any validity because everything is seen as the law of idappaccayata (this is, this becomes; this is, this becomes; this is, this becomes). And that’s all.

http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/blog/?p=10889
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Re: Interconnected

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Sep 11, 2013 1:52 pm

Pāḷi paccaya can have an interpretive rendering as ‘inter-dependent’, considering the context of paṭiccasamuppāda as cognitive process.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

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Re: Interconnected

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:15 pm

pegembara wrote:Interbeing is somewhat related to iddapacayata (conditionality). But instead of using it in the classical DO formulation, it is applied to other things. It is still Dhamma. I am not too familiar with TNH's teachings but I don't see him saying that I am everything, I am everywhere, only that all things exist due to causes. The corollary is when the causes aren't there they ceased.


Yes, that's how I understand it. Interbeing is an "outwards-looking" application of conditionality.
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Re: Interconnected

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:54 pm

Outward relative to what?
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Re: Interconnected

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:18 pm

daverupa wrote:
In Analayo's Satipatthana, back in section XIV.4 nibbana: neither all-embracing unity nor annihilation & starting on page 262, there is some discussion about 'experiences of oneness' and 'unity' and how these experiences, not unknown to the early Buddhists, were carefully distinguished by the Buddha from nibbana.
Thanks. The passage looked familiar.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Interconnected

Postby Samma » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:45 pm

Some comments from:
http://ask.metafilter.com/174977/Help-m ... sciousness

"This can only be if that also exists", etc. refers to the Buddhist doctrine of pratityasamutpada, translated as "dependent origination", "dependent co-arising", "conditioned genesis", etc. (e.g. here). It can be used to mean causation in general (the fact that every event has a cause), but it almost always means a specific causal chain of 12 phenomena that supposedly explains how suffering (dukkha) arises and is sustained. The actual list of 12 things doesn't seem to make much make sense, and experts differ on how to interpret it.

Anyway, I think it would be a stretch to use this as justification for a claim that everything in the universe is "interconnected" in some way, since it only says that a few specific mental phenomena are interconnected in a few specific ways. If it's being used to refer to causality in general...well, it's just wrong that everything in the universe is causally related to everything else (in fact, relativity makes that impossible).

Another place where "interconnectedness" comes up is the ontology of the Yogacara school of Mahayana Buddhism, which forms a big part of the philosophical basis of Zen. Basically, it holds that the only thing that really exists (in a technical sense) is some kind of "universal mind" or consciousness, which we mistakenly think is divided up into all the various objects of the universe. (By "really exists" they mean something very specific: not dependent on a cause, and not reducible to smaller parts. So everyday things still exist in the ordinary sense, even though, strictly speaking, there is inly universal mind.) As esoteric as this doctrine sounds, Zen Buddhists tend to use it as a way to claim that all people and things are interconnected in a way so concrete that we can all intuitively realize it if we work hard at meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh refers to this unity as "interbeing" and even uses it to justify his ethical positions (if we're not really independent beings, we shouldn't want to hurt each other).


It may be important to note that Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist, and Zen is said to have been heavily influenced by philosophical Taoism (which holds a lot of similar beliefs about interconnectedness, unity, and the relative nature of reality).


Thich Nhat Hanh: Dependant Co-arising & Inter-Being:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5460
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Re: Interconnected

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:58 pm

Hi Samma,

That quote seems to have some assumptions, or some misunderstanding in it.

Further down in that discussion, there is another quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

"What is non-self, Anatta (Pali)? It means impermanence. If things are impermanent, they don't remain the same things forever. You of this moment are no longer you of a minute ago. There is no permanent entity within us, there is only a stream of being. There is always a lot of input and output. The input and the output happen in every second, and we should learn how to look at life as streams of being, and not as separate entities. This is a very profound teaching of the Buddha. For instance, looking into a flower, you can see that the flower is made of many elements that we can call non-flower elements. When you touch the flower, you touch the cloud. You cannot remove the cloud from the flower, because if you could remove the cloud from the flower, the flower would collapse right away. You don't have to be a poet in order to see a cloud floating in the flower, but you know very well that without the clouds there would be no rain and no water for the flower to grow. So cloud is part of flower, and if you send the element cloud back to the sky, there will be no flower. Cloud is a non-flower element. And the sunshine…you can touch the sunshine here. If you send back the element sunshine, the flower will vanish. And sunshine is another non-flower element. And earth, and gardener…if you continue, you will see a multitude of non-flower elements in the flower. In fact, a flower is made only with non-flower elements. It does not have a separate self.


His metaphor of how "the flower is only made up of non-flower elements," is his description of anatta. When you look at the "self," you will see that it's made up entirely of things which can't be described as the self. He even sometimes says that the "Buddhism" is only made up of "non-Buddhist" elements.

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