The Bliss Blog

“All phenomena are interdependent…endlessly interwoven.”-Thich Nhat Hanh

This concept jumped out at me today while I was reading a book at the gym, sweating my prayers on the elliptical. It is called Clearing Emotional Clutter, and was written by Donald Altman, MA, LPC whose work is the area of psychotherapy and spirituality. Altman spent time as practicing Buddhist monk who now offers mindfulness workshops. Just the thing for this former Type A recovering workaholic who has downgraded to Type B as she is more drawn to present moment precious awareness. There were times when my mind was filled to overflowing like dishes in a sink leaving cascading bubbles in their wake. Now, as a result of reading this book, I am learning that the sink is a place to wash dishes and then put them away, not store them.

I have been familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh, lovingly referred to as ‘Thay’ for decades and was among those who prayed for his recovery when he experienced a health crisis last year. Now 90 years old, he remains a bright light in the world.

In the Heart of Understanding – Thay’s commentary on the Heart of the Prajnaparamita Sutra – he writes:

“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-“ with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.”

When I consider the idea of Interbeing, I am aware that no woman or man is an island and yet, it bumps up against my independent, I can do it myself sensibilities. What if, I ponder, I really CAN ask for support without feeling ‘less than’?  How about if I give myself permission to be carried in the same way I hold and carry others? They don’t feel like a burden to me, so why should I believe I would be that for them?

I was speaking with a friend recently about allowing for herself, the same loving care she so willingly offers out into the world. Feeling rather hypocritical, I encouraged her to take her own good advice. We laughed at how challenging that can be. A conundrum wrapped in paradox.

The other aspect of Interbeing that fascinates me, is that from a Buddhist perspective, there is no separate self. Through spiritual lenses, we are all-One, rather than alone. We need each other to continue to survive. The divide and conquer mentality that plagues the world, is obsolete. We simply can’t do this as independent entities out there in the dark void of space. It reminds me of the root structure of Redwood trees that are shallow and intertwine. It allows them to better withstand toppling in high winds and rising waters.

As I watch the daily happenings on this little blue planet spinning in space, I am ever more acutely aware that the tide is rising and we need each other to stand together in loving co-existence.


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