‘God let me down. He let my mother die. I decided then and there that I will never depend on God for anything again’ – exclaimed a 30 year old student who had just started attending my Vedanta class.
Earlier in the same week, a 22 year-old media professional was referring to the break-up of her relationship – We had seen so many dreams together. How will I live without him? I have sworn off all relationships.
Both of them said something to the effect of – I will never allow myself to depend on anyone so much. Love hurts. Best to be independent. Never again.
The question is – What is the nature of dependence? Is it possible to ever be independent? What does that even mean, living as we are, in an interdependent world?
Mutual dependence involves a relationship between two or more entities where one depends on the other to survive, function and even thrive.
We relate. We share.
We connect. We belong.
We grow. We change.
We enrich the other. We are enriched.
We co-create something better together.
Society grows through all types of relationships, some of which are:
Family relationships: As Family members – parents, children, siblings, grandparents and extended family we mutually depend on one another for emotional support, financial assistance, and practical assistance in everyday life.
Romantic relationships: As romantic partners we mutually depend on one another for intimacy, companionship, and all kinds of support.
Professional relationships: As Co-workers and colleagues mutually depend on one another for support, information sharing, and teamwork to achieve common goals.
Friendship relationships: As Friends we mutually depend on one another for emotional support, companionship, and doing activities together.
Economic relationships: As Producers and consumers we mutually depend on one another, with producers dependent on consumers to buy their goods and services and as consumers we depend on producers to provide us with the goods and services we need.
Ecological relationships: As organisms in an ecosystem we mutually depend on one another for survival, with plants providing food and oxygen for animals, and animals helping to pollinate and disperse seeds for plants. This is also referred to as the web of life.
Political relationships: As citizens we mutually depend on the government for protection and provision of services, while the government depends on the citizens for support and resources to function.
Relationships with Devas: As devotees we mutually depend on devas for blessings for all our pursuits while the devas depend on our prayers and offerings to bless us. Bhagavan teaches us through the Gita.
देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु वः। परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ।।3.11।।
Propitiate the deities with this yajna. May those deities propitiate you. Propitiating one another, you will gain the highest good (moksha)
Relationships with Rishis – As students we mutually depend on Rishis, Gurus and teachers for wisdom to achieve all the purusharthas of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha and they in turn depend on us carrying forward the legacy of wisdom by passing it forward to the future generations.