Can you see the cloud on this page? This is a question that Thich Nhat Hanh asks in a discussion of our interdependence. Click here for the full excerpt.
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.”
Our interdependence is part of being human which we have forgotten. Due to our individual preferences and perspectives we create a sense of “me” which seems different than you.
We are individuals, but we are also interdependent. What I do influences you in the same way a rock dropped in water will create a ripple.
To understand interdepence we can start by meditating. See this link: Introduction to Meditation.
In meditation, we look at how our mind works. We notice how we move towards those things that make us happy and away from those things that cause discomfort. Later on, we begin to notice how others respond in a similar way. Although the ways in which a person may seek happiness may not seem skillful or intelligent, we learn that within these misguided behaviours is the desire for happiness. This noticing and considering “other” is the birth of compassion.