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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/22/13

Awakening to Wholeness: The Nature of Co-Dependent Arising

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Planet Earth
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Planet Earth by NASA

NASA: This mesmerising view of Earth is a montage of images taken by the Terra satellite orbiting 435 miles above the planet's surface

In the summer months of 1993, I was working at a residential facility in Annapolis, MD, designed to help people diagnosed with a mental illness stay in the community. At times, I would work a crisis program within that facility that required me to serve some overnight shifts. One morning, I was driving home after one of these shifts when my thoughts drifted into a meditation on the Mahayana Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. It is interesting in the light of God as the Buddhists name him, that Mahayana means Universal, as does the term Catholic. May we come to truly embrace the Universal One.

While contemplating Mahayana Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, I arrived at a stoplight and my attention suddenly shifted again. A vision arose before my eyes. I saw a range of people. There were Orientals, Americans, Europeans, and Africans. I saw that even though they differed; they were one. All beings lived within an infinite Ocean of Consciousness. I realized that no matter what culture one belonged to, there was one Soul. In this state, I could see Sophia's (Wisdom's) transparency. Yet, I could not see her visually.

All peoples were within her; she was apparent within all peoples. Everything existed as images arising within and dissolving back into the infinity of pure awareness.

All separations disappeared into oblivion. What was many became one. The entire universe revealed itself as Sophia. Everything I saw, everything I heard, and everything I smelt was She. I felt the sweetness of her breath descending from the heavens above me. I felt a spark like a burning kiss of fire radiate from the inner depths of my being. Every cell in my body erupted into fiery ecstasy at the touch of her lips. My cells were like blossoming flowers responding to the warmth of the Sun's rays. In response to her warmth and sweetness, my entire body appeared to radiate with energy of infinite magnitude. I became a burning fire of Love, ready to burst forth from the power surge encompassing me.

Sophia had just devoured me, for all distinctions between us disappeared. I was in a place where there were no categories, names, or definitions. I was in a place beyond thought, beyond the arising of the Word. Only the incomprehensible and infinite depths of my Mother remained. I had dissolved into Sophia's womb as the blackness of the eternal light. I was the Alpha and the Omega.

Ideas about God being within or without ceased to make sense. Immanence and transcendence were one and the same. There was no up, down, or sideways. The idea of size dissolved into obscurity. It appeared I was everywhere; yet, I was nowhere. In being no-where, I was now-here. I simultaneously was and was no longer. Only Sophia remained as I dissolved into my natural state of oceanic bliss. I had died and been reborn. I realized myself as the Son of Sophia. More than that, I realized I was Sophia for she was my very Nature. Hence, in this vision I received my sacred name, Bensophia or Sophia's son.

The Buddhist character, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, is interesting in that He cannot or will not attain to the state of Nirvana or bliss until all creatures go before Him. In many ways, His life exemplifies the notion of co-dependent co-arising. Everything exists for the sake of everything else according to this principle.

This spiritual principle reinforces the work of scientists such as James Lovelock who states that everything is involved in the creation of the Earth's atmosphere. Everything means me and you as well as the plants and animals around us. Thus the planet operates through a complex interaction of all the parts. Or as Christian Mystic Meister Eckhart puts it, "God creates everything with everything else in mind."

When this great mystic states this, then he means it in a multidimensional fashion. This means that Buddhism is created with Christianity in mind while this mess we have, which entails the dominance of Adam (the rational Ego) who suppresses Eve(the creative Psychic Depths). For a deeper discussion on this topic (without Eve and Adam being mentioned) listen to the interview of Meryl Ann Butler (link below).

Furthermore, Eckhart is speaking to the creation of the atmosphere, in which all creatures on this planet are interacting to create. Thus we have the plants generating the oxygen we breathe and animals (including humans) generating the carbon dioxide plants breathe. We have dogs co-evolving as a species with humans, providing us protection, affection, loyalty, and companionship in return for the same from us. We have prey that feed the predators and predators that keep the prey from overpopulating and contribute to their evolution by culling the weaklings. We have millions of symbiotic species. In fact we live on an entirely symbiotic planet. Now we have scientists verifying the truths of mystics, and mystics affirming the findings of scientists.

In Buddhism, this law of the universe is called "codependent co-arising."

Meditate on the enormity of this law. YOU, the reader, exist not as a separate particle going about on its own way. Rather YOU, the reader, exist for the sake of everything else. As much as Christ was born and died for the sake of everything, then so do you! Or as much as Avalokiteshvara cannot go into Nirvana until all beings go before Him, then the same is true for you.

The idea of "its all about me!" is both true and false. You are a crucial part of the operation of this planet, yet, you are in relationship to all others. You are both a particle manifesting independently and a wave containing all. We live more in a "both-and" than an "either-or universe." Indeed, I would argue that the "either-or" is subsumed under the "both-and."

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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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