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Upanissaya Paccaya – Condition of Interdependence

No phenomenon is a single isolated unit. All things are interrelated. And being thus, the condition of one thing depends on the conditions of various other things.

Using the consideration of the four elements again as a basis, we may gain the first grasp of the fundamental nature of this condition of Interdependence. Thus, a good starting point is to observe interconnectedness of the elements in the elements without. And for that we might consider the wholeness of the entity we call our planet.

Of course, the most obvious element for us here is the element of earth, which is probably why it is called by that name. But this earth is surrounded by air, it is interspersed with air, and its very movement through space is due to the characteristic of movement which we have taken to belong to the air. Then, it is perpetually warmed by the fire of the sun; off and on some lightning ignites a fire here or there; and, every now and then some volcano erupts, bringing to the earth’s surface fire from the very depth of the planet. The element of water at last, is filling the larger part of the earth’s surface, can be found variously beneath its surface, while much of it is also hanging in the air so to say, in the clouds, the rain, the snow and in fog. Thus, we can see, at least without, how all the elements are interconnected and exist in a condition of interdependence.

Within too, we can find certain dynamic, interrelated activities of the elements. Thus, is the earth element (food) taken into the body, lit up by the fire element (digestive heat), moved around by the wind or air element and then flushed out by the water element. Water is delimited or held in place by the earth element (i.e. in the body, by the bodily organs), is prevented from solidifying by the warming nature of the fire element, and is made to change place by the action of the air element. And similar things apply to the other elements too.

Then, further we have a connection between these two worlds of the without and the within. Part of the without is serving as a support for the within. The oxygen produced by the trees without, is breathed in by the lungs within. The fruits and the grains without, are taken as a nutriment into the stomach within. Then will the digestive organs transform this physical food into energy. That energy spreads throughout the body via the arteries and veins. Through that, all the organs of the body receive the energy they need for their functioning. And when all the energy is drained out of the material taken from the without, that material is in turn again returned to the without, serving as support for the growth of the plants and the trees. The energy which continuous within on the other hand, will be further refined by other organs, as the liver, in order to be of use for higher bodily functions, such as the working of the brain.

These bodily organs or bodily functions in turn exist in a condition of interdependence with the mind, a fact which I have shown already in the previous chapter and variously in the beginning part of the book. There I showed, how the mind’s functions highly depend upon the internal physiological processes of the body, while the mind’s content largely depends on the body’s sense faculties. This in turn again is connecting the whole inner system intricately to the world without.

On the reverse side, the body’s functions, also largely depend on the mind. So will the mind’s interests determine were the senses turn. Conscious thought will force the body to make energy available for the brain. Self-control mechanisms, as will become established when a person begins to develop certain virtues, will also modify the body’s inner workings, by for example controlling the body’s life faculty (or more technically the spreading of nutriment and mind-born matter). And thus will especially the processes arising in the heart be controlled by the workings of the mind.

This basic controlling of the heart’s processes (viz. practicing certain virtues) in turn will largely be the foundation for ordered inter-human relations or social relations as a whole. Which thus bind together the entities of a family, of a tribe, of a country or nation, as well as of whole civilisations. These inter-human relations in turn will bring forth inter-human concepts. That is, when people are functioning as a group, all members of that group will usually think along the line of quite similar concepts. Thus those concepts will condition the members of the group, but the members of the group may equally modify their ruling concepts.

Then are even within a singular mind, all the various functions and powers of that mind interdependent. Thus, will the mind’s interests determine the amount of impressions received, investigated, designated and processed. These will determine the quality and extent of concepts acquired. Which in turn will increase the mind’s interest to investigate, properly designate and process more impressions. A consideration which becomes exceedingly important when considering about mental development or when pursuing the development of any kind of skill.

At last we have consciousness itself. Consciousness is intricately interconnected with body and mind on the lower side and ideas and knowledge on the upper side. Thus, if body and mind are coarse, consciousness can’t know or understand subtle and refined things. It can then only know and understand coarse things. While if body and mind are subtle and refined, consciousness can know subtle and refined things. On the other hand side, if consciousness does not know about subtle and refined things to begin with (that is, it does not contain ideas or knowledge thereof), mind and body will usually also not become subtle and refined.


And seeing thus the importance of knowledge, and following those conditions of mental and material phenomena to their natural conclusion, we may begin to understand, that the acquisition of knowledge, if such is desired; in order to be effective, will have to follow this very same scheme. That is, the phenomenal world if it is seeked to be comprehended or mastered, may be so only when it is considered by means of a system of equally interrelated ideas. And when ideas become thus interrelated, ultimately anything will be deducible from anything.

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