Posted inHenry's Messages

Contingent Arising

August 15, 2015

… we are nothing but this very moment arising.


As kids, our parents’ lives seem to us so solid and established – the jobs, the house, the routines. Personally, much of my earlier adulthood I was waiting for that kind of a sense of solidity to arrive in my own life, especially once we had kids of our own. Why didn’t it come?

Now it seems clearer that all people’s lives are contingent, and it’s only the child’s view of the Jack-and-the-beanstalk giant’s world of the adults that makes the adults’ lives look magisterial and solid. Of course they never were. The parents were struggling and juggling just as parents of this generation are doing.

I believe our practice can help us to grow ever more OK with contingency. As Buddha taught, all that arises does so contingently – meaning conditionally. It does so because other things make it do so. In spite of appearances nothing has a solid independent existence of its own, separate from its causes; least of all ourselves.

Despite the barrage of persuasiveness that we are always receiving, inwardly and outwardly, which seeks to convince us of our solidity as selves, we are completely contingent in all ways. And as Hakuin says, cause and effect are one.  Condition and result are one.

We too are nothing but a contingent arising in this very moment. In fact, we are nothing but this very moment arising.



Written by Henry Shukman, from our newsletter archives.

Image Credit: Prairie Sunrise, by cowins, CC0 Public Domain, from
Featured Image Credit: Sunrise, by Archbob, CC0 Public Domain, from

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