There is another type of dependent arising which is the dependent arising of imputation or designation in terms of parts. Any physical object has directional parts. Phenomena such as consciousnesses have moments of consciousness. If there were any such thing as a part less particle, one could not discriminate sides, such as left and right, or this side and that side. If you can't discriminate sides in something, no matter how many of these things you put together, you can't have anything bigger than the original one. However, it is the case that gross objects are produced through the coming together of tiny particles. Thus, in terms of investigating physical objects, no matter how small the particle is, it must have directional parts, and it is on the basis of this logic that it is established that there are no physical objects that are part less. With respect to a continuum, if the members did not have earlier and later parts themselves, there would be no possibility of their coming together to form a continuum. Then, with respect to unchanging phenomena such as unproduced space, there are parts or factors such as the eastern or the western quarter, or the part associated with this or that object. Thus any object, whether it is permanent or impermanent, changing or unchanging, has parts.
When the whole and parts of any particular object appear to our mind, isn't it the case that the whole and parts appear to have their own separate entitities? They appear to conceptual thought in this manner, but when you investigate, it is clear that the whole and parts do not have separate entities. When they appear to our minds, the whole seems to have a separate entity from the parts. If it were so, you should be able to find them under analysis, but when you analyze you can't find any such separate whole and parts.
So there is a discrepancy between the way whole and part appear as separate entities, and the way they actually exist. However, this doesn't mean that there are no objects, or no wholes, because if there were no wholes you couldn't speak of anything as being a part. There are wholes, but their mode of existence is to be posited in dependence upon their parts, and there is no other way for them to exist. Since this is the case, it applies not only to changing or impermanent phenomena, but also to unchanging, permanent phenomena.
There is a yet more profound meaning of dependent arising. When you seek the object designated, you don't come up with anything among or separate from the basis of designation of the object that is different from that object. Take the self or the 'I'. There is the I that is the controller or user of mind and body I is something like the owner, the mind and body are something like belongings. You can say, "This is my body, today there is something wrong with my body, therefore I'm tired. Today my body is fit so I'm very fresh". Nobody says this, some part of the body, is I. But if in the meantime there is pain in some part of your body, you can say "I have pain", 'Tm not well". Similarly, you say my mind or consciousness. Sometimes you almost fight with your own consciousness, your own memory. Isn't that so? You can say, "I want to improve the sharpness of my mind, I want to train my mind." You appear as the teacher or the trainer of the mind and the mind appears as the unruly student that is going to be trained. You're going to give it some training in order to make it better.
So both body and mind are belongings, I is the owner. But besides mind and body, there is no separate independent entity of I. There is every indication that there is an I, but if you investigate it can't be found. If there is an independent I, a separate entity-take the Dalai Lama's I, it must be here within this boundary, there's no other place you can find it. Now, if you investigate which is the true Dalai Lama, the true Ten-zin Gyatso, besides this body and mind there is no substance. Yet, the Dalai Lama is a fact, a man, a monk, a Tibetan, who can speak, who can drink, who can sleep, who can enjoy himself. That is quite enough to prove there is something, yet it can't be found. Among the bases of designation of the I there is nothing to be found that is an illustration of the I or that is the I. But does this mean that the I doesn't exist? No it doesn't mean that, the I does exist. But since it cannot be found among its bases of designation one has to say that it exists not under its own power but merely through the force of other conditions.
One of the more important conditions in dependence upon which the I exists, is the conceptuality that posits the I. Thus it is said that the I and other phenomena exist through the power of conceptuality. Dependent arising here comes to mean: posited in dependence upon a basis of designation; or upon a conceptual consciousness that designates the object; or arising in dependence upon a basis of designation, or upon a conceptual consciousness that designates it.
Thus, in the term dependent arising, dependent means depending or relying on some other factor. Once the object depends on something else, it is devoid of being under its own power, of being independent. Nevertheless it arises in dependence upon conditions. Good and bad, cause and effect, oneself and others, whatever the object is, it arises dependently. From the point of view of being dependently arisen, the object is devoid of the extreme of being under its own power. And because in this context of dependence, cause and effect are proper, one can posit them, they are not non-existent when one understands this, one is released from the extreme of non-existence, nihilism. That is the most subtle meaning of dependent arising.
Nowadays physicists are explaining that objects don't exist just objectively in and of themselves, but that they exist in the context of involvement with a perceiver. I feel that this relation between matter and consciousness is the real place where Eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhist philosophy, and Western science could meet. I think it would be a very happy meeting. Perhaps by the next century, if we carry out more work along these lines, through a joint effort by Buddhist scholars, and also those who have some experience, and pure, unbiased scientists, physicists, working together, investigating, studying and carrying out deeper research into the relations between matter and consciousness, I think we may find some beautiful things, that may be helpful-good. Even if they are not considered a practice of Dharma, but purely an extension of human knowledge.
Since Buddhist philosophy is somehow connected with science, the Buddhist explanation of consciousness, how it functions, its changes and fluctuations, could make a contribution to the work of scientists studying the human brain and human mind. Sometimes when I ask neurologists, what is the function of memory? How does it function? They say they still haven't found the concrete explanation. In that field too, I think we could work together. Some Western medical people are showing interest in curing certain illnesses through meditation. That also works. This could be another joint project.
In Buddhism the emphasis is on self-creation, there is no Creator, so strictly speaking it is not a religion, it is closer to science. From the pure scientist's viewpoint naturally, Buddhism is a kind of spiritual system. So Buddhism belongs to neither faith nor religion or to pure science. This provides an opportunity to make a link or bridge between faith and science. I believe that in future we may have to work to make closer contact between those who are following faith and experience of spiritual value, (most people, who simply neglect it, are a different matter) and people who deliberately deny any value to religion. There is constant conflict between these two. If they can be helped to come closer together, it might be worthwhile.