Understanding dependent arising

Bodhi College cofounders Christina Feldman and Akincano Weber discussed key aspects of dependent arising, a core notion of Buddhism, in a virtual workshop offered 13 June. The workshop was co-sponsored by Bodhi College and Tricycle magazine.

Feldman and Weber, as well as Bodhi College faculty Stephen Batchelor and John Peacock, will be teaching an online course on dependent arising beginning June 20. Click here to register for the course.

In the hour-long session Feldman and Weber explained that dependent arising is much more than the formulaic 12 links of existence often identified with this notion. Rather, dependent arising provides us with a structural principle of conditionality and an explanation of how conditionality is the basis of suffering in this life.

All things are conditioned by other factors—they don’t just arise out of nowhere. A flower needs the conditions of sunlight, soil, and water to grow, just as a calm mind requires the condition of relaxation. This is common sense. But if we follow this important teaching all the way, it guides us to a profound and liberating view of life.

Although we are the product of conditions, we are not the hostage of those conditions. The teaching of dependent arising allows us to see that we have the potential to calm the reactivity which is the product of our conditioning . We can become more mindful and compassionate even though habitual patterns can be very powerful.

Conditionality or patterning affects not only individuals but communities and societies. We thus need to seek transformative changes at the collective level as well.

Whether at the individual or the collective level, understanding conditionality and reducing reactivity to conditions is the work of a lifetime.

Video of the workshop

The workshop was videotaped and is now available to the public:


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