Last updated October, 2019.
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All of us have sat at a wooden table. But, how many of us have examined such a table mindfully? What brought the table into being?
The obvious components are trees and people. What brought the trees into being? They exist because of the sun, the soil, the rain, and a myriad of other "ingredients." What about the people - what brought them into being? They exist because of their parents, food, water, air, and numerous other factors. And so on, and so on.
Dissecting the table in this manner yields causes and conditions that are infinite in their regress. You can trace the wooden table back to the beginning of the universe. You can also change your perspective to see the wooden table in each individual thing that forms those causes and conditions.
For example, look at the rain. In it you can see the food that provides nourishment to people. You can see the soil that trees grow from. If you mindfully examine a single drop, you can see the wooden table come into being.
Through mindful analysis, you find that everything can be seen in one thing, and one thing can be seen in everything. Thinking the table is independent and separate from everything around it is a delusion.
Likewise, thinking that humans are independent and separate from everything around us is a delusion. We are all connected to everything by everything.
This realization helps us cultivate compassion for ourselves, for others, and for everything that exists.
As Carl Sagan put it,
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."
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