Look deeper. Look deeper at your mala, your skateboard, your yoga mat. Look deeper at your records, your books, your loved ones; look deeper. Look deeper because in this very moment, you are interbeing with all of them, and all of them… are interbeing with you.
But it doesn’t stop there because you’re also interbeing with the air you breathe, the food you eat, all of the pretty little flowers that decorate the entire globe as well as the storms that lay waste to those flowers on a daily basis.
So just what is this “interbeing”? Well, first of all, it’s a term coined by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh which means that you are completely interconnected with, and interdependent upon, every single thing—both seen and unseen—in this world.
For the purpose of this article however, I’m only going to discuss the “seen” portion of interbeing, what Buddhist philosopher Nārgārjuna would call relative truth (or physical reality) in his Two Truths Doctrine. The other half, absolute truth (emptiness of all phenomena or the ground of all being) is a bit beyond the scope of what I can cover here in roughly a thousand words or so (and not entirely necessary for the point I’m trying to make), but for more on absolute (and relative) truth, I highly recommend checking out Nāgārjuna’s Seventy Stanzas as well as Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of Understanding.
Okay, so on a personal/physical level, interbeing is pretty obvious; our bodies contain our kidneys, heart, lungs and all of our other strange organs and complexities that rely on one another (or inter-be with one another) in order to keep us from residing in our final resting place—whether it’s six feet under or scattered across some magnificent ocean or mountainside.
Understanding this simple view of interbeing on strictly an individual level however does us little good because, don’t forget, interbeing includes the sum total of the entire universe, not just our individual selves. To help illustrate interbeing in action, allow me to share an experience I had a few years ago while covering a Motörhead/Slayer concert for my website.
Since I was covering the show for my site, I had a nifty photo pass that gave me access to the area immediately in front of the stage (lucky me, I know) and so there I was, standing up front waiting for Motörhead to take the stage. All of a sudden the lighting went dark and the sound of a guitar being plugged in ripped through the PA system.
The crowd immediately began to go crazy; cheering, screaming, and chants of “MOTÖRHEAD!” erupted that were all but deafening when about 10 seconds later, the lights come back on… And there, standing about two feet in front of me was greatness personified, Motörhead’s bassist/singer… Lemmy Kilmister!
I’ve covered a lot of shows and interviewed a lot of bands, actors, comedians, spiritual teachers and so forth and rarely do I get caught up in the whole starstruck thing, but I mean, this was Lemmy… a metal god among metal gods. Anyway, an interesting thing happened within a minute or so of Motörhead’s first song (after getting over my fan boy nerd-out of course) when I noticed Lemmy’s Rickenbacker bass. It was a model I’d never seen him use before and it was insanely gorgeous. It had an all-natural wood finish that was complimented by a beautiful, hand carved leaf inlay, which decorated the entire body of the bass.
Standing there in awe of Lemmy’s instrument, my mind gravitated towards the concept of interbeing and I began thinking about how his bass—before becoming an instrument—was first part of a tree. As I thought about that tree, my thoughts continued on to the sun, and how without its nurturing sunshine, the tree wouldn’t have been able to grow in the first place. But of course it wasn’t just sunshine that fostered the tree’s growth, there was also the clouds and rain, both of which were an integral part of the tree’s life and vitality.
And so as I stood there admiring the instrument, I found myself not only seeing a beautifully hand carved design, but looking deeper, I also saw the tree, sunshine, clouds and rain all interbeing within it. Not only that, but I then thought about how the same sunshine, clouds and rain that had to interbe for the tree to grow that birthed Lemmy’s bass, well, they also had to interbe in order for the food that you, I and Lemmy himself all eat on a daily basis.
So bringing this full circle, what had began only moments earlier as Motörhead ripping into their first song of the night, quickly culminated in an experience of interbeing. The trees, sunshine, clouds, rain, you, me, Lemmy and the entire universe as a whole, we were all right there—interbeing with one another while masquerading as Lemmy’s bass.
It’s like Thich Nhat Hanh said: “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
And this was just one of many experiences that’s served to truly re-emphasize that point for me. My sight has been (and still often is) so clouded with concepts about things—and I mean anything from a toaster to a computer, my hands, a blanket, whatever—that it’s difficult to see the deeper natures of reality, such as interbeing, but really, what’s life worth if it’s constantly experienced through recycled eyes and a generic mind?
Chris Grosso is a youth mental health and healing group facilitator with Newport Academy, public speaker, writer, and author of several books, the latest beingDead Set On Living (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books, 2018). He writes for ORIGIN Magazine, Huffington Post, Revolver Magazine, and has spoken and performed at Wanderlust Festival, Celebrate Your Life Conference, Yoga Journal Conference, Sedona World Wisdom Days, Kripalu, and the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. http://theindiespiritualist.com
The word “spirituality” has caused a lot of suffering over the centuries. Moral self-righteousness is often tagging along side that word.
There is one fundamental presumption upon which our world culture is founded. This basic presumption states that experience is divided into two essential elements – a subject and an object – joined together by an act of knowing, feeling or perceiving.
Question: When we say that we must come to the end of the mind, that we must exhaust the mind, is it a necessary process, something which must happen, or is it possible to have an insight without the mind being exhausted?
Creativity can be seen as a state of natural flow...
A pre-recorded 4-part Video Series with Stanislav Grof
Wake up! Wake up! Errrr, ummmm, grrrrggr, Oh yes, I’m awake now. Wow, that was a weird dream.
Ikkyu Sojun decided to be true to himself and that meant regular trips to brothels
Dzogchen, the bardo, sleep and the yoga of dreams
Jun 26–28, 2020
Delight Yoga, Prinseneiland studio, Amsterdam
To think of the human stage as simply for enlightenment shortchanges the potential of humanity.
Everything in the universe is shakti and spiritual life is the discovery of shakti.
When even the sense of being collapses into the utter simplicity of what is.
This excerpt from the The Strange and Necessary Case for Hope is rare medicine for our dark times.
Can you live "IN" the Dream world with absolute integrity and authenticity
"It is not a person that is waking up, it is consciousness."
Being fully human requires the awakening of the deep Heart as well as the full embrace of the vulnerable human heart.
Performing at the opening night of the 2019 SAND gathering in Italy, Parvathy Baul sings and dances
What may or may not be appropriate behavior for a spiritual teacher?
In this interview with Zaya Benazzo from SAND Italy, Ellen Emmet talks about the relationship between self-enquiry and the exploration of the body through tantra.
SAND co-founder Zaya Benazzo interviews Turiya Hanover, co-founder of The Path of Love
Eric Baret points out that there are no sculptures of yogic asanas in Indian temples before the modern era. He describes today’s yoga as a commercial project...
The Yamabushi in northern Japan practice a once forbidden ancient religion. While their tradition is at risk of disappearing, it offers a way for those seeking a different path in Japan‘s society.
Aisha Salem talks of being willing to let go of our limitations, of keeping ourselves small, and of living our individuality
Silent awareness is mostly drawn to light, sound, color, beauty, movement, patterns and contrast.
In this memorable conversation from SAND 18 Peter Levine, the father of trauma therapy work, and Thomas Huebl, a spiritual teacher known for his work integrating healing of collective trauma, discuss the relationship between healing trauma and...
In a rare meeting of minds, and a rare exploration of whether there is a predilection for spirituality, Gabor Mate asks Adyashanti to expand on passages from his recent book My Secret Is Silence.
Ellen Emmet explains her understanding of the role of the body in our exploration of truth...
Yoga does not bring us to truth, truth expresses itself through yoga.
Eric Baret explains clearly that there is no need for the self to appropriate achievement
Is it possible to live a life of activity while holding the perception of unity and fulfillment?
Please enter your email and we’ll send you instructions to reset your password