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The begging bowl of the Buddha represents . . . the ultimate theological root of the belief not just in the right to be, but in openness to the gifts of all beings as an expression of the interdependence of all beings. This is the most central concept of Buddhism—or at least in Mahayana Buddhism. The whole idea of compassion, which is central to Mahayana Buddhism, is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another. Thus when the monk begs from the layman and receives a gift from the layman, it is not as a selfish person getting something from somebody else. He is simply opening himself to this interdependence, this mutual interdependence, in which they all recognize that they all are immersed in illusion together, but that the illusion is also an empirical reality that has to be fully accepted, and that in this illusion, which is nevertheless empirically real, nirvana is present and it is all there, if you but see it.