We are in many ways creatures of habit. If we live within certain conditions long enough, they come to seem natural to us. But if we had lived in different conditions, they would seem equally natural. Looking at the cultural, religious, or material conditions that others have become habituated to may make us feel that they must be totally different from us, but we are just mistaking something circumstantial for something essential. It is largely an accident of our birth and our life circumstances that we have come to find certain conditions familiar and others alien or distant. It is not an indication of anything essentially other or different about us.
Beyond any superficial circumstantial factors that differentiate us, all living beings share a much deeper common ground, as I discussed in the previous chapter. Buddhism identifies this deeper ground as the wish to be happy and the longing for freedom from suffering. This fundamental inner condition lies at the very core of our existence. Our apparent physical and circumstantial differences are relatively unimportant and shallow, compared to the more important — and much more foundational — level of reality on which we all stand.
Focusing on this deeper level can help us to access a sense of closeness and shared experience — of all being in it together. With this as our starting point, we can explore our particular conditions without experiencing them as a gulf that separates us.
from the book Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society
Read a random quote or see all quotes by the 17th Karmapa.
Further quotes from the book Interconnected:
- Bringing about real change in the world
- Experiencing connection rather than isolation
- Touching the core of our equality
- Acting against self-serving impulses
- We hold nothing back
- A genuine sense of affection
- The power of our senses
- Delight in positive thoughts
- Opening up to the view of interconnectedness
- Remaining indifferent to the suffering of animals
- Our life is like a vast net
- You exist in connection with others
- The ability to experience genuine closeness
- Dismantling the walls that separate us
- Being an interdependent individual
- Individualism or interdependence
- The air we breathe