Our intuition says things exist when the context is removed or altered. The chair will be the chair and I will be me.
But there are exceptions. A rainbow cannot exist independently from the rain or the sunlight. The clapping hand cannot be a clapping hand when the other hand isn’t joining. Some phenomena are not graspable “things” but they are ungraspable “processes”.
As far as I can tell, the basic building blocks of the world we perceive are not fully understood. Do we really know what matter is or time or consciousness? Are they graspable things or ungraspable processes?
In my understanding the Buddhist idea of codependent arising appears to take a position on this. It says there are no graspable “things” but there are ungraspable “processes” only.
Phenomena appear and disappear only in the context of other phenomena, which only appear and disappear in the context of other phenomena, which only appear and disappear in the context of other phenomena, which only appear and disappear in the context of other phenomena etc.
There is nothing graspable at the root of it, or at the end of it, or in it, or behind it.
Reality (or what we perceive as such) is like a set of mirrors reflecting images without anything actually there to be reflected other than the reflections of other mirrors.
Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
Koan-stories and questions are - like the one hand clapping - removed from context. When we don’t restore that context or fabricate a new one, they will help us realizing this dreamlike nature of reality. That will set us free. We will no longer be grasping at things that are not really there.