Given the conflicted state of our human family, a state we’re more aware of than ever with our globally interconnected network on the web, practices that support a sense of relatedness are needed for all of us. I’ve written many times about how we are kin not only with every other human being on the planet but also with every other lifeform. All of us are born of this planet, which makes all of us part of one earth family.
I started to write a practice on lovingkindness, which I’ve written about many times, and then found myself shifting into thinking about a practice more focused on recognizing our kinship with one another from a particular perspective—from what Thich Nhat Hanh has described: we interare. He has coined a word, a verb, which is also a concept: interbeing. Charles Eisenstein uses this concept in his work, as well, and I recommend watching videos of his on YouTube. Interbeingmeans that we are inescapably interconnected and interdependent, that there is no way for us to be separate from one another nor from the ecological framework of our source of physical life—from Nature, from every functioning aspect of our planet and all the lifeforms on it.
From the Urban Dictionary, here’s their definition of interbeing, drawn from Thich Nhat Hanh: “It means to inter-dependently co-exist. The meaning of interbeing recognizes the dependence of any one person or thing as to all other people and objects…Not only is no man an island, but rather his interbeing is shared with the plants and animals he eats, the people who make his clothes and food, the people who populate his home, country and the very world he perceives, the insects that pollinate the trees that yield his fruit, shade him from the sun, and provide lumber for his house.” [Note that the pronoun used in this quotation is from an earlier time…]
With the current world situation, and the immense suffering of our kin caused by those of us humans who are afraid of the differences between us, thus feeding a sense of separateness, it is so important to understand that we affect one another all the time because we interbe, because it’s impossible for us to be truly separate from one another.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to play with the verb interbeing. Notice what it’s like to move through the world reminding yourself that you interare with everyone you encounter. Check out the videos on YouTube about interbeingand see how you feel when you watch them. Here’s a link to that YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=interbeing
Also notice how exploring interbeing bumps into beliefs you’ve been taught or that you carry. It’s always worth attending to the places in us where we come up against resistance or a reaction of some kind when we encounter an idea or concept that goes in a different direction from our usual ways of being and believing.
As with all these practices, there aren’t any right answers for this one. Instead, it’s an opportunity to get to know your responses to deepening an exploration of interbeing, of interdependence, of relationship to your earth kin. Please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that insist on pushing into your awareness, especially those that represent self-criticism.