Every single thing is inter-related. Accepting that is like entering a vast open space at once filled with all that exists at the same moment that it is eternally empty and pure. I remember feeling completely elated after watching an investigation on public television that traced the branching bloodlines of humans back to specific individuals and then further back to indeed one genetic place. One genetic human place at the core of all of us, and over all time, I'm convinced we could trace that back to one genetic living organism. It felt so validating! No wonder we can feel so connected to people anywhere, no matter what might seem different among us.
Explaining this idea that everything is co-arising, in other words, nothing is separate from anything else, may seem easier in more concrete terms.
I can look at the grocery list as a dream of the future -- what we need around here to eat and to clean up and to sustain ourselves and to entertain ourselves. The grocery list is also a commitment to future action, that I will go and I will get these things. The grocery list reflects my ideas about nutrition and my upcoming schedule and the time I will have to cook. It anticipates what I imagine about where my family members will be, in fact, where I will be, sharing food. The grocery list also reflects all my hard work over the past few days, cooking and using up all the edible resources around here. It also anticipates the combined work of my husband and me, having trading our time and energy for the cash resources I will use to buy the food for our future meals. The grocery list is a vast concept, containing all of this: what has been done and what is projected. It cannot exist in the present tense without all of these aspects embedded in its evolution.
Looking at ordinary circumstances or conditions in this way allows me to see the tip of the iceberg in the concept of co-arising. Perhaps you have read or heard about how everything is part of everything... People used to be fond of saying "you are what you eat" as a way of describing this to some degree. The paper you write upon can also lead you on this journey through the sun and the leaves, the rain and the paper pulp, among the hands of the people operating the machines and the machine itself that cut down the tree or re-cycled the cardboard that was again transformed that into the paper before you.
This can seem hard to follow, but just think about any one thing for a moment. Allow your mind to open and begin including all that you know about this one thing. Try it with the oatmeal in the bowl before you in the morning. How many hands have helped get this to you? Of course the cooking and such is part of that (what went into the cooking... gas from the earth that came to you through the pipes...stored where? pulled out how exactly? where? when? by whom? in what weather? stored deep since it was produced by what?...when?...). Okay, you can do this yourself until your head spins... the pot it cooked in, the utensils used, the packing of the oats and their transport, the harvesting, the birds plucking at bits of dry oat shells, the rain water, the plants breathing into the very air itself blown from where? And of course the people who did the planting and harvesting, plowing and weeding, investing their energy into your bowl of cereal with so many mornings of early rising, their feet on the earth, breath in the late afternoon, feeding the animals the dried oats that didn't make it to your bowl... Not to mention all that you are, your hand on the spoon.
Seeing the world as co-arising leads me directly to gratitude for everything, and can also help me when I feel that strange dualistic idea that I am separate and on my own.
All of this can exist in one moment as you feel the warmth of your oatmeal, smell that aroma, notice your stomach grumbling. Enjoy your decisions about brown sugar or walnuts, yogurt or wheat germ, maple syrup or blueberries, knowing that your existence and that of your oatmeal are intimately connected, so much so that one cannot exist without all the other conditions co-arising.
Watching the spinning mind, going over this material, I am amazed at how I can also feel the air on my skin in this moment. My inhale reminds me that my oatmeal and I exist. My exhale brings a smile, that I can release into being here, and eat.