Like plazas emerging from the voids
within the dense urban fabric,
likewise conventional objects appear
when bounded by their basis.
The piazza is neither its casual atmosphere,
the hurried pace surrounding it,
the elaborate facades bounding it
or the decorated pavement underfoot.
Its unique character comes from its composition.
In the context of a crowded city,
a public place provides a social focal point.
An obvious gap in the impenetrable urbanity.
As public squares are meeting places,
so too, are conventions–
where we meet in communication
formed only by our agreement.
Not by way of its unique characteristics,
but simply by its popularity, the plaza becomes renowned.
In the same way, all objects, not because of inherent qualities,
but simply by their being designated, do they come to exist.
Even though coming from different directions,
we are able to meet where our lives intersect.
Likewise, while our experiences may be varied,
we are able to agree on the conventionally-existent.
Venerable Thubten Chodron
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.