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The idea of “Interbeing” – introduced by Thich Nhat Hanh into the North American Buddhist vocabulary – may be viewed as a formulation of the doctrine of “dependant co-arising” in the Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta.
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. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-“ with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.
The observation that we “inter-are”, while true and poetic is not really the most important element of “Interbeing”. The important part is the realization that there is no independant self – that the perception of self, of “me”, of “mine” is an illusion. Awareness that “I” am made of “non-I” elements leads to the understanding of non-self and it is the realizaton of non-self that brings an end to suffering.
Which got me thinking about death and about the Five Subjects for Frequent Recollection. Normally, these subjects (the first four anyway) are evoked to induce non-attachment.
I am subject to aging,
I am not exempt from aging.
I am subject to illness,
I am not exempt from illness.
I am subject to death,
I am not exempt from death.
There will be change and separation from all that I hold dear and near to me.
I am the owner of my actions (karma), Heir to my actions, I am born of my actions, I am related to my actions and I have my actions as refuge. Whatever I do, good or evil, of that I will be the heir.
I haven’t read it yet, but I am confident in recommending Larry Rosenberg’s book Living in the Light of Death explores these reflections in detail and also offers meditational practices on death. I also know of at least one MP3 recording of a guided medtiation on death by Ayya Medhanandi.
It is so wonderful to at last see a site and a book (“A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency”) and a declaration (which you can sign) that reflects a thoughtful and heart-felt Buddhist response to the climate change problem. The contributors are so eminent and across all traditions. Here are a few:
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa
Thich Nhat Hanh
Here is an inspiring talk by Ayya Medhanandi that was given at Quaker House in April 2009 in Ottawa. It consists of a slide show of the mudras on the Batik that Ayya speaks about with the talk as the voice track.
In-City MEDITATION RETREAT WITH AJAHN KUSALO
May 22 – 24, 2009