Last Saturday, on Nov. 2, 2019, Stephen generously shared his research on a well-known Buddhist concept: Interdependence.

He led us through an inspiring discussion session after meditation. Following is the outline of ideas he presented, and a list of readings on Interdependence he recommends.

Happy learning!



One can look at interdependence as a teaching about how things become what they are. Nothing causes itself to exist, or even stays the same from one moment to another. Rather, things are what they are because of causes from all of the other things in the world. And those things are what they are because of causes from all of the other things in the world, and so on. Different teachers emphasize different lessons from this. Interdependence can help foster compassion in us, in several different ways. Interdependence also helps us relate more skillfully to reality — mistaking things or ourselves as not interdependent leads to suffering for ourselves and for others. Be careful not to misinterpret interdependence! I am what I am because of everything else in the world, including you, but it is not right to say that you and I are one. (But it’s also not right to say that you and I are two.)


Seeing interdependence

The teaching of interdependence is not something to hear and believe, it’s something to see and experience so that it can help you live your life.

  • Take a few minutes to reflect — what brought you to read this? What people played a part in you seeing these words? What things? Think of your parents, your teachers, the person who runs the power plant that keeps your electronics going, the happenstance that led to you understanding English, and so forth. What are you? Is there anything in you which was not caused by something outside you?
  • Consider what interdependence means for how you relate to others. Who or what are other people? Why do they act the way they do?
  • Think about interdependence and how it relates to other teachings. Can you see the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path in it?


Readings on interdependence