Thankyou, Andi. Gassho. I appreciate you coming back on this thread. I appreciate it because it was not bound to happen, so I receive it as a gift - something from yourself. The issue of "self" is, of course, subtle and complex. In the ordinary sense, we are
persons. We do things. As bodies we are just as much things in the world as tables and chairs are. We are more than tables and chairs in that we are conscious. We have relationships. These matter to us. I would not want to arrive at a point in the deconstruction of the idea of self where such things ceased to matter. However, I am wary of the idea of "interdependence". What is mostly the case is that we are simply dependent. There are some limited ways in which the universe is dependent upon us, but if I disappeared tomorrow I don't think the sun would notice. It does not depend upon me. So we are contingent and vulnerable. We must face the fact that in many respects we are totally insignificant. In the midst of vast insignificance, we have stumbled into a life full of feelings about "things that matter". The next person is just as contingent and vulnerable as I am. When I consider this, that person seems to matter. So, in relationships between people, this knowledge may lead to tenderness. So I understand the "nature of self" as dependent and vulnerable. I'm not so clear that there is an "inter-" in this dependency. I wonder if that "inter-" does not suggest a kind of human self-aggrandisement. Most relationships are one way. It's nice when they are two way, but that is not the common situation. I benefit from all sorts of things and people that have no need of me, have never met me, and, in many cases, would not notice if I were not there. Of course, I also benefit some others - but they are not the same ones, and I do not necessarily receive anything from those I benefit or who depend upon me. Spirituality does seem to me to be related to an acceptance of this onewayness. To give without any expectation. To receive without knowing how or why. Gratitude to those unknown. That would be spirituality - but mostly I am too weak for it. Also, do I really need to understand the relationship in order to have it? I do not understand myself nor do I understand Amida. I do not need to wait until I understand because it is already happening. I am much more interested in relating than in understanding myself. I am more interested in relating to you than in getting to the bottom of who I am and who you are, though a certain amount of such enquiry may bring us closer. Relating does seem to be something special precisely because it does come close to breaking out of the onewayness of things. Even so, even in a relationship, every move is unilateral and so stands on faith. If it does not do so, we lose our life and become machines. We are not inter-dependent - every contribution is a unilateral gift. That is what makes it exquisite. As we relate, there is life and colour and joy and faith. That's it. It's already happening, but it is so fragile.
Whether we see the bodhi tree
Or a mirror bright
Let us welcome everything
Whether it be dust or light.
We welcome everything because it is a gift - here now, gone in an instant. We live in grace-land. Perhaps the grace of conversation will continue.....