Conviction Seven

Awareness of Interdependence Forms the Crux of the 21st Century Worldview

Pressed to name the one concept that, if widely internalized, would have the greatest positive impact on our world, a strong case can be made for the interdependence of all life, also characterized as interconnection. This concept directly challenges today's prevailing assumption that life is essentially a competitive affair, defined by "the survival of the fittest," both biologically and socially. Scientifically, we can observe the marvelous complexity of mutually supporting life forms that develops within ecosystems over time. The healthiest ecosystems are those manifesting the greatest biodiversity; even the smallest insect can play an absolutely vital role in assuring the health of a system. The spiritual or metaphysical corollary of this truth in Buddhism is found in the doctrine of dependent origination, which holds that "no beings or phenomena exist on their own; they exist or occur because of their relationship with other beings and phenomena." Internalizing this truth, we will be less inclined to believe we can succeed at the expense of other people or the planet that sustains us.


A second point of commonality between Transcendentalism and Nichiren Buddhism is the idea that all things coexist within a context of mutually supportive interdependence. (2004)

In the context of this sutra [containing the "Parable of the Medicinal Herbs"], the earth and rain indicate the impartial teachings and dharma of Shakyamuni; the plants and trees are like people of unique and varying capacities. This passage can also be read as portraying a world of creative coexistence, where all life-forms, fostered by the compassionate and creative power of the cosmos, receive life and exhibit their unique and particular qualities within a web of interconnection. (2004)

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