Infinite Causes

One of the many ways to explore selflessness is through inquiry into causes. Take any activity in your daily life, and explore the many contributing causes to that activity.

For any activity, I can find infinite contributing causes. There is always one more, and one more.

I brushed my teeth this morning, and the tip of the iceberg of the contributing causes to that simple activity is…

  • I have teeth
  • I have a tooth brush
  • I have an arm to brush with
  • I have time to brush
  • I had a thought of brushing teeth
  • I had the intention of brushing teeth
  • There is an awareness within which all this unfolds
  • My parents and my school encouraged me to brush my teeth, establishing a habit for me
  • Someone invented the toothbrush
  • Someone manufactured this toothbrush
  • Innumerable people was part of that manufacturing, indirecty or directly, going back innumerable generations
  • I am alive
  • I am a human being
  • I have eaten food my whole life to stay alive for this brushing
  • Innumerable beings brought this food to me, directly and indirectly
  • I have not died yet, from the innumerable things that could have made me die before this moment
  • Innumerable unbroken generations of beings, humans and pre-human, allowed me to exist so I could brush my teeth this morning
  • This planet and solar system was formed from a number of supernovas
  • The whole universe has evolved as a seamless system, allowing this planet, humanity, our culture, and me to exist

And so on… I see that the universe as a whole contributed to this simple action. There is not really much room for any separate doer. It seems far more true that the act of brushing my teeth was the activity of the whole of the universe, of the whole of Existence. I cannot find any separate I here acting as a doer. I as a separate doer seems to be just a story added to what is.

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