I just spent three marvelous days contemplating and discussing the cycle of dependent arising with 20 students. The topic invites the reflection that nothing exists separately or independently. Everything related to mind and matter arises due to causal conditions, and it ceases when those causal conditions cease.

It might seem easy enough to agree with this assertion, but the direct knowledge of experience as impermanent and causally related events has a profound effect. When we see the arising and perishing of sensory experience, we cease clinging, and ignorance is abandoned. When we recognize that the sense of “being me” arises by clinging to sensory contacts that are basically impermanent, we might just tire of the craving that perpetuates the round of continued becoming. Without continued becoming, we are freed from repeatedly dwelling in stories of self fabrications. We tire of constructing a sense of I, me, and mine. Instead of interpreting the world of mind and matter in terms of self interest, we see that complex patterns and conditions affect lived experience. We may experience profound insight into things as they actually are.

This cycle of dependent arising is worthy of deep contemplation. I hope this three day discussion is just an inspiring beginning for each person who spent the weekend together.