Mutual arising


If a flag is blowing in the wind, what is causing the motion? Is it the wind? Is it the existence of the flag? or is it the perception of the mind?

The concept of mutual arising

Mutual arising refers to the concept of the interdependence of two polar opposites. On this basis we have the interdependence of the universe and the individual. The individual is the microcosm, and the universe the macrocosm. The individual needs the universe in order to exist, and the universe needs the individual in order to expand.

Many people overlook this because they see themselves as individuals encased in skin and flesh, amd see skin as the boundary between self and other. But mind is synonymous with space. Space can be perceived in various ways. You can see space. You can move your arms and legs through space. You can detect the relationship between sound and space. Consciousness exists in the mind and it also exists in space and you perceive it the same way as you perceive everything else around you. Your individuality goes way beyond ythe parameters of your skin.

The concept of private thoughts

Many people have the idea that their thoughts are private and individual, yet their thoughts are based on images and words which exist in the language and society in which they live. This is the concept of culture. The combination of words and images may be unique and indviidual to you and based on your individual perspective, as is cultural awareness, but the culture is something which is relative to everyone else.

The mind as a grid

The structure of the mind is very similar to the grid supply system found in an electricity grid system. There is a network of power stations and transformers. These are arranged so that if a power station fails in one area the grid connects the area to another power station and source of power in the grid. Likewise in a similar way our minds are connected.

The order of words

One example of this is what an author called Northrop Fry calls the order of words. The order of words is all existing literature both rhetoric and what is written down. His theory is that as a scholar of literature and the history of literature he can take a piece of writing of a reasonable length and tell you when it was written. This is because everything that is written and said is inescapably related to the whole order of words. It's amazing what little things you could say would give you away. take for example the expression "It's a capital day." Fry maintained that this is not characteristic of modern language, but is a Victorianism or Edwardianism. By all sorts of little clues a scholar can pin down a piece of writing to when it was written. This is because every individual piece of writing is a function of all writing that is being done.

The individual is characteristic of the whole

This is something which is far more complex and ciomplicated than just writing. All thinking that is being done is relative to all thought that has ever been done in the collective. All living is being done in relation to all living that has ever being done, which is known as the biosphere. This also includes the interplay of what we understand to be the gravitational and electrical fields, which affects everything that there is.

From this we have the practice of astrology

This is why in ancient times when a person was born an astrologer cast their horoscope. This was understood to be a map of the universe (actually the solar system) at the time of that person's birth. This was understood to be a drawing of their soul because the soul is not inside the body, but the body is inside the soul. Your soul is the whole universe as it is focussed upon your physical body. Astrology is of course a very primitive science which interprets the influence of the universe on you in very crude ways. Astrology works on the basis of good guesswork on the part of the astrologer. This is how fortune telloing and other predictive psychic sciences work, because the client invariably gives themselves away.

There is underlying astrology a sound concept that the map of the soul is an image of the universe surrounding the individual. The image of the unievsre isn't just related to when you were born but changes constantly as you live because the whole thing expresses itself through you. This is similar to the concept of an image of a body being the image of a person. It's just an image from a different perspective. It just shows that your mind is outside your body.

The mind cannot exist without others

You cannot have a mind without seeing, thinking about, feeling about, or relating to other people. You cannot have a mind without relating to your environment or all the organizations and social institutions. This not only relates to language but also the laws, the customs, the gestures, te rituals by which we relate to each other which forms the basis of our cultural awareness. But all these things go to make up the mind. The mind is a huge network of relationships and interconnections at a high level of sensitivity.

Mind and matter

Mind and matter are of course polar. they go together and are two ways of thinking about the same thing, or, better still, two dimensions of the same thing. This is just like length and breadth. This is just like shape and colour. You cannot see a shape without seeing colour. Likewise you cannot see a colour which doesn't have a shape. Yet there is a clear difference between colour and shape. They are, however always together and always go together. This is no different to the relationship between mind and matter.

The difficulty people have in trying to reduce one to the other, and saying that the world is either material, or the world is only mental or psychological, is the same difficulty you would have in trying to say that all shapes are colours, and all colours are shapes.

Difference is identity, just as identity is difference

This is no different to the fact that colour and shape are different to one aniother, but they are also related to one another. Likewise you don't know what identity is unless you know what difference is, and you don't know what difference is unless you know what identity is. Likewise to be and not to be arise mutual, which is the basis for the term mutual arising. High and low are mutually posited. Long and short are mutually deliniated.

The collective of the universe focussed at an individual point

What we see then is the totality of the universe focussed at each point or individual perspective. This is what creates the illusion of the independence of individual perspective from the whole. This is no different from a human being by virtue of having a body and skin, and being able to walk instead of being rooted to the ground creates the illusion of being separate.

Responsive image

In the above image we can see the interdependence of the figures and the background. See how both are related. See how you can pay attention to the figures and then switch your attention to the background and in each case it's significant.


Mutual arising forms the basic guiding concept in our concept of cultural development and also for our aesthetic when it comes to social design. It is something which has been lost in our consciousness and is lacking in our social consciousness and many of our social structures that we all rely on today. We also hope that we have managed to illustrate to you the importance role culture and cultural awareness plays in how we relate to each other and also how important it is in our own thinking and how we perceive ourselves.