Jundo Cohen - Treeleaf Zendo

Dependent Origination – Jundo Cohen

Dependent Origination is subject to many, varied interpretations, and also depends on whether one considers it or not a description of a mechanism for postmortem rebirth. I do not take it that way, and simply take it as a description of the psychological mechanism by which a sense of separate self develops (in a nutshell, we have sensory contact with incoming data from the outside environment, which is mentally processed into ideas of images of things, some of which we love and some of which we do not), which leads to our desires about those things, plus ideas of our having been born, aging and dying as those self-created ideas of being a separate self. It is really not that different from Piaget and other modern models of infant development as a newborn (with little sense of being separate from its environment) turns into a sentient being with a sense of separate identity, with all the accompanying hungers, fears, loves and desires that go with that. In my opinion, Zazen reverses the process by letting us return to the feeling of non-separation and wholeness, free of desires and ideas of “birth and death” etc. As we sit in Shikantaza, the sensation of being a separate self filled with desires softens, and sometimes fully falls away.

Dependent Origination

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