Listening to the news and taking in the depth of suffering currently unfolding in our human family around the world, I was drawn again into an awareness of how our tendency to focus on the things that separate us leads to terrible possibilities. When we become mired in tribal reactions and beliefs, we end up harming one another in horrific ways.
For many years, I have committed myself to support and promote an understanding of our underlying oneness—the fact that we are related to one another and all other life on the planet. What has been a long-term support to this focus of attention has been the term coined by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, where he talked about interbeing, that in every moment we interare with the life around us.
Another concept that has been important to me is the idea of interdependence, that we cannot live without the range of relationships we have with each other and with the other life forms on this planet. Science is beginning to demonstrate that successful eco-systems are based on collaboration and cooperation amongst species and that competition is only one aspect of these complex relationships. And, in a very personal way for each of us, our physical bodies are communities comprised of trillions of non-human life forms that work together to keep our bodies alive.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to focus your awareness on the fact that there is nothing you do that is brought about by you alone, that in every moment whatever you may be doing you are dependent on myriad other life forms. For example, when you eat a meal, take a moment to think about all the people involved in bringing the food to you. Then, as you digest, take a moment to acknowledge and thank all the life forms that work together to make your digestive system work. If you go out for a walk and are in an urban setting, notice all the services that keep your city going. If you go into a store, notice all the people who are there to offer service and also notice that everything available to you in the store was made and brought to the store by people you will never know. If you are in a country setting, notice all the life around you and how under the surface of the soil there is so much activity supporting the life you see above ground.
The possibilities of what to notice are infinite, so each day allow yourself to focus on a new example of interdependence. The key offering in this practice is to deepen a sense of connection with the family of earth-kin all around and within you, without whom you would not be able to be here.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything about them. And, also, please make room for mixed feelings as they are a natural part of exploring concepts that may not have received so much attention before.