Also known as inter-dependency, inter-relatedness notes that everything is in relationship to all else. It might be a tiny little relationship, but it’s there. None of us can exist without conditions existing that favour our existence – we depend on those conditions. The conditions that support us also support other things, to a greater or lesser degree. The world is so inter-twined that each thing affects the other, even if it is just a tiny amount. Something as small as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Hong Kong is said to affect a storm forming over the Atlantic Ocean.

We humans don’t often stop to think about this. We assume birth and death: that everything is born and dies. But what if it simply changes form, coming into existence only when the conditions that support that existence are in place? What if the conditions needed are so essential, that we can’t be said to exist on our own?

Humans may not take kindly to this viewpoint. The idea of there not being an independent self – that everything depends on something else to exist – might be anathema to a lot of North Americans.

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