In the Heaven of Indra, there is said to be a network of pearls, so arranged that if you look at one you see all the others reflected in it. In the same way each object in the world is not merely itself but involves every other object and in fact IS everything else. In every particle of dust, there are present Buddhas without number. Read more...
Have you ever felt totally alone, perhaps late in the evening in a vast forest when your best friend or lover suddenly stepped away?
You may have been ashamed to admit that you were scared of the dark. Even more to the point, you shrank before the feeling of being so vulnerable.
Sometimes, we feel caught up in a rat race where our lives don’t seem to matter. No one really notices us. If we passed away overnight, we would be lucky to show up the next day in the obituary page.
We can even feel that we are like the shade that plunges into the lake and leaves not a single ripple.
Our lives don’t matter… or do they?
Interbeing is a truly breakthrough concept first articulated by the Nobel Peace Laureate, Thich Nhat Hanh, in the middle of the War in Vietnam. It had been around for centuries in the Buddhist notion of Dependent Origination, that all phenomena mutually arise out of nothing.
However, interbeing is a positive notion, somewhat evocative of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, or the Holy Communion, where the original disciples united with their Master, and with God.
It unites both the vertical (divine) and horizontal (human) dimensions in one glorious image of the cross.
More recently, Neale Donald Walsch, best-selling author of Conversations with God, maintained to his listeners that there is only one of us. That when I look at the real you, and you look at the real me, we will see the very same self.
You may recall Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the subtitle: “We are not alone.” What is even more daring than seeing flying saucer’s in the sky coming straight at us is the realization that nothing is as it appears to be… that we are actors in our own movie.
We all have a significant role on the screen, but are actually sitting at the same time in the audience smiling at the comedy and weeping with the drama.
The Buddhists adapted a metaphor from the Hindu god, Indra, equivalent to Zeus or Jupiter in Greco-Roman mythology. In His celestial palace, you will find an infinite web of jewels, suspended in all directions much like a glorious spider web.
Each one is an exquisite pearl (or drop) reflecting every other pearl, such that you cannot look at any one of them without seeing all of them.
Each pearl stands for one of us that has an impact on all the rest. You can’t take away a single pearl without spoiling the total effect.
You can look out in all directions and see billions of sentient beings, each one somehow dependent upon, and enhancing, all the rest.
This is the perfect expression of interbeing. Each pearl arises and falls with all the others, emerging from that primal emptiness that is mother to us all.
Physicists confirm this with the breakthrough principle of nonlocality, that any two paired particles can be separated by billions of miles, and yet their spin will be perfectly correlated, no matter how far apart they go.
Interbeing is illustrated with yet another metaphor of fractals, or the Mandelbrot set, stunningly gorgeous computer-generated patterns that are intricately detailed and scale infinitely above or below wherever you are.
To gaze at them, you would think you were viewing a hippie light show.
These patterns maintain their shape with slight variations, suggestive of people with their basic similarities and individual differences in appearance, such that you can readily tell them apart, and yet instantly realize that all of them are human… and at the same time, we are ONE.
In other words, we are all individually beautiful… and when we zoom out, we are able to see how interconnected we all are… and how all of us together make one big gorgeous tapestry.
Alan Watts suggested that nature never makes an aesthetic mistake, that beauty is built into the very rocks and elements that surround us. To realize our inherent perfection, we just need step back and contemplate the big picture.
Chief Seattle warned his white brothers that humanity is merely a strand in the web of life. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
You are indispensable to both the dream you occupy and the story you live. You are the star, no matter how improbable that may seem.
Screenwriters and directors don’t lightly play around with the characters they create. Cut one minor character out of a scene, and the integrity of the story could be hopelessly compromised.
Everyone and everything is there to contribute to an aesthetic whole that can yield supreme satisfaction in a great work of art, such as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or Hamlet.
If you ever feel terribly alone, really look at this concept of interbeing closely. It is there in every great religious, spiritual and philosophical tradition. Thich Nath Hanh was just the first to articulate it in contemporary language we can easily understand.
When you look at others, you look upon yourself. That is what Christ meant in His Sermon on the Mount. Love your neighbor AND your enemies, as they are just another version of yourself.
When you open up to unity, or nonduality, this will all make shocking sense to you. That transformational realization could occur within you at any moment.
The more we go on in life, the more apparent it becomes as to the value of moving, touching and inspiring others. Life is a precious gift. You are here to awaken other people to their true nature, just as they are here to awaken you to your true nature.
When you start to feel more joy in someone else’s win than in your own, you are making massive progress.
I had a personal breakthrough years ago when I actually gave a short prayer of blessing for Bill Gates of Microsoft, one of the richest men in the world. As a billionaire, Bill at the time seemed aloof, arrogant, selfish and impossibly rich.
As I kept blessing him, Bill met Melinda Gates, his wife, and gave himself to the world in an unprecedented way. He eventually became one of the world’s greatest benefactors. Since then, numerous young billionaires have taken Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffet’s pledge to give most of their vast wealth away.
You, too, can make a difference. Go out and touch someone today, either literally, with a handshake or a slap on the back, or by teaming up with some people doing good in the world, in your local place of worship, community, school or company.
As you open up with others in a creative project, you may very well find genuine appreciation and a whole new sense of meaning and purpose. I realized this in the peace and environmental movements of the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Whatever you decide to do, start celebrating INTERBEING, for that is Who you truly are!