Modern society attaches great importance to human relationships. A person's interpersonal circles consist of many small networks which, at varied scales, include relatives, colleagues, and people sharing the same identity such as religion, occupation and hobbies. The individual interpersonal circle is integrated into a wider one of all human beings. These networks provide ideas on how we form groups which is commonly called “circles”. Members of circles can be grouped into, for example, IT staff, entertainers, businessmen, as well as other ad hoc community of people such as Beijingers, Chinese, Asians, drivers, air travellers, and mad transit users, etc.
We rely on parents after being born, on spouse and children when getting old, on doctors and nurses when falling ill, on children when we die. Such dependence on others can be seen everywhere around us that all of our basic necessities cannot be separated from the help we receive from others. Let’s take food and drink for an example: our dinners come from seeds fertilized and planted by peasants and then from the procedures of transportation, storage, processing and sale before finally being purchased and cooked into rice by us. During the whole chain, we participate in only the last two processes: purchasing and cooking; all the previous processes are completed by others. So it is meaningless or impossible to think only of the purchase and cooking of the rice, for no meal of ours is possible without the vital contributions of others. And it’s the same with other life necessities – clothing, lodging, and means of travel.
If we were truly independent, then what others do would not affect us at all. I can even “persist in my own way” and keep my initial status. But the fact is otherwise: all of those people outside our local circles influence us to different extent, and then stimulate or account for our reactions. The death of our relatives or good friends makes us think about the significance of life, a rigorous eye contact from an angry boss makes us choke back the words arisen to our lips, a sentence inadvertently said by the lover makes the beloved think profoundly and hard, a joyful word or laugh from children brings us huge satisfaction. All these presumably little things, indeed, exercise great power over our moods, and can transform our ideas, behavior, then our decisions, our lives and even other peoples’ lives, as well.
Similarly, human beings and so-called “nature” are one entity, entirely. No one can survive without existing healthy natural environment. We are incessantly affected by the influence of non-human nature. Accordingly, various reactions are accounted for. Meanwhile, what we do and how we behave also incessantly have effects on the world around us, either turbulent or serene.
Two vivid metaphors apply: human society is like a big tree, and everyone is like a leaf on the tree; actually, all the leaves belong to one entirety, but each individual takes it for granted that its existence is independent on the whole. Human society is also like the individual human body; everyone in it is a part of the social body, and all parts form that social body. If both the left hand and the right hand think they are independent , they will fight each other for profits, hurting or even destroying what is perceived to be the competitor or adversary; when the right hand fights with the left , of course, it only results in harming the whole body. The reason why the tree’s leaves think they are independent and why the right hand tries to hurt the left hand comes from the wrong perception that they are independent entities, forgetting that they deal with issues from only a small and partial angle. As long as one sees beyond oneself, lets go of or transcends its all-consuming individual preoccupations, to see the whole situation from an overall perspective, the truth of things naturally emerges.
As we exist, each of us, within complicated social chains or networks, plays one or several roles. Everyone is a part of the chain, serving others as well as being served, affecting the outside world as well as being affected by it. There are no such differences between us and other people since we all are parts of an entirety with similar position and value. If we can see the world as an entirety, see all sentient beings as an entirety, and see all sentient beings as equal in their rights and purposes, we will be able to fully realise that helping others is just the same as helping ourselves.