I recently read about a Buddhist concept, Interbeing, and it really intrigued me as it felt familiar – something that I have sort of thought about, talked about with friends before. But Thich Nnat Hanh’s post on this really hits the nail on the head and solidified the idea in my mind. Thich Nnat Hanh is Vietnamese Buhhist monk, global spiritual leader and Zen Master and you can check out the original article here: The Insight of Interbeing.
A very quick introduction
Interbeing is the interconnection of everything and everyone in the universe. It is the understanding and appreciation that states are temporary. All matter is fluid, constantly moving and always changing. That sounds kind of big and intangible but in context it makes a lot of sense.
“Interbeing” – the word – is relatively new and was actually coined by Thich Nhat Hanh himself. Although the word is new, it’s not a new concept but a traditional Buddhist teaching at the core of the ideology. But you don’t need to be spiritual or religious in any way to understand and appreciate the notion.
An example featuring a banana
When you eat a banana, you recognise that you’re eating a banana but also that the banana is made up of lots of atoms and molecules that individually are not a banana. And in order to have that banana right now it originally had to come from a seed and with time grew into a tree, nourished by soil, water and sunlight it eventually grew a banana, cared for and picked by a farmer, packaged and shipped to your local supermarket. All of these small moments had to happen. Millions of atoms had to move in a very specific way, into a specific formation, to allow for you to have the experience of eating a banana. Without all of these things the banana could not exist.
Interbeing is understanding that in order to appreciate the banana we must also appreciate all of the non-banana elements that had to exist and flow in a specific way to enable it to exist.
People are bananas too
The same is true with people too and this most clearly seen in children, in the way they look, in their mannerisms, its easy to see commonalities with their parents or siblings. That’s because the child exists because of her family, she is a continuation of those around her and all that came before. Thich Nhat Hanh describes how if at times we don’t understand a person’s behaviour then we must understand that nobody exists in isolation, but we are all products of our families, our ancestors, our surroundings and every interaction we’ve had along the way.
It’s a common mindset to hear, we are who we are because of what we’ve been through, but it isn’t just our experiences it’s all the tiny interactions, changes and motions that had to happen to enable all those experiences to happen too. Really, there is no ‘you’. What you perceive as ‘you’ is the universe temporarily expressing itself in human form, experiencing one aspects of itself.
The entire universe is simply energy continually flowing, we are all all part of this single movement of energy. Everything is connected to everything and everything is impacted by and impacts everything else.
Tesla said it well:
”If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.
Or as Einstein described it:
”Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.
By understanding the interconnectivity of the universe, this interbeing of everything, it can help us to understand ourselves better, to remember that we are never alone and that we are exactly where we are supposed to be, it can help us to be more patient and understanding with others, and to make more mindful decisions in life. The concept of Interbeing can help us to remember that there is a flow in life, and we can either go with it enjoy the ride or struggle against the tide.
I hope that this idea is something that resonates with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Is this something that you have felt or thought about before?