Imagine a world without people. You, by your lonesome, is the only inhabitant.
Science says that you will experience loneliness to the point of severe depression. Buddhism says, this state of existence isn’t even possible. It is impossible for a single human being to even exist without the rest of humanity.
Tomatoes on a vine may all think they are unique, but they share the same vine. Cut the vine and you kill all the tomatoes. In the same way, all humans are tied by a common vine. Either we all exist together, or we all die together.
This is a good practice to apply to ‘difficult’ people. The key is in realizing that there is a little bit of that person (no matter how ridiculous or difficult that person may be) – in YOU! Just like there is a little bit of the vine in each of the tomatoes. Even if each tomato likes to think of itself a unique individual, it is, in fact, reliant on the other tomatoes on the vine for its very survival.
Impermanence, the closeness of loved ones
When you wake up next to your loved one(s) in the morning, realize that they too, will be gone one day. This does not mean that you live in constant fear of death, instead, you simply live with the awareness that each moment with a loved one is a precious one.
Impermanence of all things leads to the concept of Emptiness. If things are forever changing, they are devoid of any reality; any reality we impose upon an object is a temporary one – if that. Thus, all objects are ‘empty’ of any true meaning. Some Buddhist scholars have suggested that were all of Buddhism’s 4 noble truths distilled into one comprehensive concept, that concept would be ‘emptiness’.
As you greet each day, realize that everyone and everything in it – is temporary. This is not to start grieving – in fact, just the opposite. The reason we grieve (according to Buddhists) is that we fail to realize that things are not meant to last forever. When that thing decays or dies, we are left with a profound sorrow – which arose from our original attachment to the object. Certainly, this level of detachment is difficult, if not impossible, for the everyday citizen to practice. However, Buddhism is not asking for detachment – or for forsaking attachment. It is simply cautioning that all attachments are bound to end – and one simply needs to acknowledge that in order to avoid/minimize future suffering.