38 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING and that at every moment its nature is subtly changing. This is what we mean when we say things are empty, that they have no independent existence. Modern science speaks to us of an extraordinary range of interrelations. Ecologists know that a tree burning in the Amazon rain forest alters in some way the air breathed by a citizen of Paris, and that the trembling of a butterfly's wing in Yucatan affects the life of a fern in the Hebrides. Biologists are beginning to uncover the fantastic and complex dance of genes that creates personality and identity, a dance that stretches far into the past and shows that each so-called "identity" is composed of a swirl of different influences. Physicists have introduced us to the world of the quantum particle, a world astonishingly like that described by Buddha in his image of the glittering net that unfolds across the universe. Just like the jewels in the net, all particles exist potentially as different combinations of other particles. So when we really look at ourselves, then, and the things around us that we took to be so solid, so stable, and so lasting, we find that they have no more reality than a dream. Buddha said: Know all things to be like this: A mirage, a cloud castle, A dream, an apparition, Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen. Know all things to be like this: As the moon in a bright sky In some clear lake reflected, Though to that lake the moon has never moved. Know all things to be like this: As an echo that derives From music, sounds, and weeping, Yet in that echo is no melody. Know all things to be like this: As a magician makes illusions Of horses, oxen, carts and other things, Nothing is as it appears. 9 Contemplation of this dreamlike quality of reality need not in any way make us cold, hopeless, or embittered. On the
REFLECTION AND CHANGE 39 contrary, it can open up in us a warm humor, a soft, strong compassion we hardly knew we possessed, and so more and more generosity toward all things and beings. The great Tibetan saint Milarepa said: "Seeing emptiness, have compassion." When through contemplation we really have seen the emptiness and interdependence of all things and ourselves, the world is revealed in a brighter, fresher, more sparkling light as the infinitely reflecting net of jewels that Buddha spoke of. We no longer have to protect ourselves or pretend, and it becomes increasingly easy to do what one Tibetan master has advised: Always recognize the dreamlike qualities of life and reduce attachment and aversion. Practice good-heartedness toward all beings. Be loving and compassionate, no matter what others do to you. What they will do will not matter so much when you see it as a dream. The trick is to have positive intention during the dream. This is the essential point This is true spirituality 10 True spirituality also is to be aware that if we are interdependent with everything and everyone else, even our smallest, least significant thought, word, and action have real consequences throughout the universe. Throw a pebble into a pond. It sends a shiver across the surface of the water. Ripples merge into one another and create new ones. Everything is inextricably interrelated: We come to realize we are responsible for everything we do, say, or think, responsible in fact for ourselves, everyone and everything else, and the entire universe. The Dalai Lama has said: In today's highly interdependent world, individuals and nations can no longer resolve many of their problems by themselves. We need one another. We must therefore develop a sense of universal responsibility... It is our collective and individual responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members, and to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live. 11 THE CHANGELESS Impermanence has already revealed to us many truths, but it has a final treasure still in its keeping, one that lies largely hidden from us, unsuspected and unrecognized, yet most intimately our own.