Lovingkindness and Interconnection

Sharon Salzberg in her wonderful book Lovingkindness, The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, writes “Without the rigidity of concepts, the world becomes transparent and illuminated, as though lit from within. With this understanding, the interconnectedness of all that lives becomes very clear. We see that nothing is stagnant and nothing is fully separate, that who we are, what we are, is intimately woven into the nature of life itself. Out of this sense of connection, love and compassion arise.”

Then she quotes Susan Griffin from Woman and Nature saying that it is a beautiful expression of our unity:

“We say that you cannot divert the river from the river bed, we say that everything is moving and we are part of this motion, the soil is moving, that the water is moving, we say that the earth draws water to her from the clouds, we say that the rainfall parts on either side of the mountain like the parting of our hair, and the shape of the mountain tells us where the water has passed. We say that this water washes the soil from the hillsides, that the rivers carry sediment, that rain when it splashes carry’s small particles, that the soil itself flows with water in streams underground, we say that water is taken up into the roots of plants into stems, that it washes down hills into rivers, that these rivers flow to the sea, That from the sea and the sunlight this water rises to the sky, this water is carried into clouds and comes back as rain, comes back as fog, comes back as dew as wetness in the air, we say everything comes back, you cannot divert the river from the river bed, we say every act has its consequences, that this place has been shaped by the river, and the shape of this place tells the river where to go, we say look how the water flows from this place and returns as rainfall, everything returns we say, and one thing follows another, there are limits we say on what can be done, and everything moves, we are all a part of this motion we say, in the way the river is sacred, and this grove of trees is sacred, we ourselves we tell you are sacred.”


With the First Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma, the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths: all of us suffer; we suffer because we want things to be different than they are; our suffering can end; and it can end if we practice deeply and live in a way of integrity, meditation and wisdom.

Pain will end. Grief will end. Joy will end. Contentment will end. And all will return. This is how life is. He said that we all experience the 10,000 joys and the 10,000 sorrows. We experience everything and everything changes all the time. Is impermanent. When we can accept life just as it is… feel all of these feelings without adding on all the resistance and self-doubt and recrimination… Suffering ends. We still feel the 10,000 joys and the10,000 sorrows they just aren’t tainted with our “what’s wrong with me?”

Then he taught the Second Turning of The Wheel Of The Dharma: Emptiness. We are all connected. ALL of life is connected. And even though we appear to be separate from one another, we are all connected in the most fundamental ways… We are all components of the whole.

Then the Buddha deepened his teachings even further with the Third Turning of The Wheel Of The Dharma: Buddhanature. Suffering ends with acceptance of life just as it is. And with the understanding that we ourselves are basically good…. That we always have been and always will be no matter how many mistakes we make, no matter how much we struggle, no matter how confused and delusional we are… we are at the core of our being—good. That this goodness is the ultimate nature of “mind.” Buddha called this basic goodness “Buddhanature.”

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche wrote ““In the discourses of the third turning, taught to a retinue of bodhisattvas, the Buddha went further into his teachings on the ultimate nature of mind… With these teachings on the absolute nature of mind, Buddha introduced the notion of tathagatagarbha, or the buddhanature theory. This declares that the fundamental nature of mind is utterly pure and primordially in the state of buddhahood. It is the absolute buddha. It has never changed from beginningless time. Its essence is wisdom and compassion that is inconceivably profound and vast. The term tathagata is a description for the Buddha and refers to one who has “gone beyond” the ordinary world to the state of perfect enlightenment. Garbha is sometimes translated as “womb” or “seed.” Thus, tathagatagarbha points to the enlightened potential that is inherent within all sentient beings, whether they exist as humans, animals, gods, or even demons.”


Emptiness is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all the Buddha’s teachings. As Dhivan Thomas Jones said, this doesn’t mean empty like an empty bucket, but rather empty like an uninhabited forest.

We are empty of a separate self. Empty of a self that is an island, adrift and disconnected. When we think of all the ways in which we are connected to everything and everyone, we can begin to see that we actually are not separate. We all contain the essence of our parents, and all the generations before us. We contain earth, water, fire and air because of our existence on the planet and the foods we eat. We are connected by our minds and hearts. We are connect in the vibration of all the tiny particles that make up this physical plane.

The Second Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma—Emptiness.

The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche said, “When the Buddha turned the wheel of dharma for the second time, on Vulture Peak Mountain, he taught the Perfection of Wisdom sutras to an assembly of bodhisattvas. This is the turning, known as the “vehicle of non-characteristics.” At this time Buddha presented the complete teachings on emptiness… It is just this realization that is the source of all realizations, of liberation or enlightenment. From the perspective of some Mahayana schools, the second turning of the wheel of dharma is seen as the most ultimate, or definitive, teaching of the Buddha.”