Our beingness cannot exist without the beingness of the other.
“Interbeing: 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.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
I am not separate, you are not separate, none of us are. The very existence of life has always, and will always, be intimately connected to the “other”. The water we drink, the food we eat, the places we go, the people we see, what we do, are all dependent upon a myriad of interconnected networks and pathways. Without one the other cannot exist. This is interbeing.
We humans act as if we live outside of this truth. Like independent islands in a sea of otherness, we live a story of separation which has led to many of the ills which currently plague our world. This estrangement has enabled us to cause great harm to the very ecological community to which we all belong. It is a kind of madness which has governed our way of life on earth for long enough.
The Work That Reconnects
When I played the games described in Interconnected Part 1 – Life on earth, I was attending a Work That Reconnects (WTR) training. Prior to this I had the good fortune to be introduced to the work during a retreat with Joanna Macy herself, the lead developer of the work . It literally changed my life.
Learning, practicing and offerring the WTR over the last 10 years has deepened my understanding of interbeing, enabling me to feel more of a participant in our world, rather than a bystander.
Systems view of life
In this fascinating short video Joanna Macy beautifully explains the systems view of life. She describes how the notion of power has played out as control and domination. This concept of power-over creates competition, comparing and scarcity, which leads to an individualistic thinking based on fear and vulnerability. This psychology drives many of the damaging behaviours we see around us.
More beautiful world
In his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible Charles Eisenstein describes how this story of separation arose, and more importantly, how we can become more effective in changing the narrative towards one of interbeing.
The separation enabled us to extract from the world until, in some cases, it was all gone. The devastating effects are everywhere. Evidence of this separatist mind lies behind much of the pain and suffering on our planet. The mass tar sand extraction and huge damn projects ignore their impact on the interconnectedness of nature. The mass migrant camps and plastic filled stomachs of albatrosses all demonstrate how we have blindly ignored the impact of one action on the experiences of others.
I believe change is vital and a great place to start is by practicing gratitude. Rather than the rote method I so often trot out at the end of the day I am developing a manner of meeting the world in acknowledgement of the intereconnectedness inherent in everything.
This carrot on my plate is tasty and nutritious. I give thanks for this nourishment.
It was planted, grown and nurtured to maturity by an other human like me. Thank you.
It required the sunshine, rain and soil. I give thanks for that.
It was picked and processed and transported by someone working to earn their living. Thank you.
It’s existence here illustrates the bounty in my purse. For that I give thanks.
What chain of appreciation are you most grateful for in your life today and why?