Chickens and Eggs

Good morning! For those who subscribe by email, this is the first of two posts you'll get in a single email because I finished yesterday's essay after 10 a.m.. That one is relatively light. It's about hair. Oh, and identity. This one, in contrast, is about feathers, and so it is very, very heavy. Because I have only a few moments to write, I share for your ruminatory pleasure, a riddle—because that is what happens when the Dalai Lama was your morning walking partner. 

Dalai and I took a little stroll today. He's the only Facebook friend I actually care about (except you, of course), and we had some catching up to do. Last week he shared three lectures on Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna's Middle Way, each of which is more than an hour long. Today, part 1. A very good place to start. 

One of the many provocative ideas presented was that of "dependent arising," or "PratÄ«tyasamutpāda" in Sanskrit (pronounced: aiurhalhuairuaewhraeowiurhaewriewah.) Meaning that nothing is really what it is entirely in and of itself; everything has provenance, history, reason, dependence, effect.

We must apply this to people too. Translation: They have their reasons, even if we disagree with them in fundamental ways. If we are to be compassionate, we will take these reasons into account. It doesn't mean we have to like it, but ideally we find a way to accept it, as a starting point for conversation. Facebook reminds us of how many people there are in the world whose opinions we feel that we disagree with. Spend time with family to confirm this. 

Can we still love them? Of course we can, and we must. We live in community. We are social beings. Our very survival depends on our ability to coexist in peace with those around us—and sometimes we feel that we disagree on fundamental things with those we love most. Some of the most unhappy and preoccupied people I know are the ones stuck in feuds with family members. Not clear which was the chicken and which was the egg, but it doesn't matter because the chicken and the egg, while fundamentally different, are actually the exact same thing, in a different stages of the same cycle. 

So today we can just ask one question:  How will chickens survive if they hate eggs? 


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