all beings are interconnected and interdependent

all beings are interconnected and interdependent

“The concept of self as a solo thing is so toxic to the way we relate to one another and the earth—it’s so non integrative, when integration is not present you get chaos and rigidity… So whether you are talking about social justice issues, or climate injustices, it’s all about us as a contemporary culture missing the reality of interconnection… If we identify this problem it can be a win win win. For the individual you can liberate yourself from the idea of a separate self, for our human relationships we will realize we are all one human family differentiated but linked, and for the planet which is waiting for us to wake up. Human beings have excessively differentiated themselves from nature and so we are using the earth like a trash can. Instead of realizing that we are fundamentally interconnected to nature and that’s a true way to live an integrated life. People all around the earth are waiting for to wake up from this weird slumber of a delusion of a separate self”

― Dan Seigel

Thich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Buddhist monk and peace activist, enjoys playing a simple game with his new students. He holds up a piece of blank paper and asks his disciples to describe what they see in it. Some answers that he gets are peace, purity, calm, and cloudy sky. But Nhat Hanh tells them that in this paper, he sees something entirely different — for him the paper is a portal through which he witnesses the whole world. 

As the Zen teacher explains, the paper is made of trees, and trees in turn are nurtured by air, soil, water and sunlight. Furthermore, transforming trees into papers requires the dedicated work and skills of lumberjacks, artisans, and industry workers. And they all, without question, rely on seeds, soil and farmers and other skilled people for the food that they consume.  

So, the piece of blank paper in his hands isn’t as empty and insignificant as it looks — it’s story and form contains a little bit of all life on this planet. 

Many of us think that we are individual entities, and each of us has a separate existence. But that’s not true. In reality, all beings are interconnected and interdependent.

There are many instances of symbiosis in the natural world. And if we look deeply, we’ll realize that we are all connected to each other via a complex web of interactions unbeknownst to us. If one suffers, we all suffer. If one thrives, we all thrive. 

Humans are not separate from this web of life. This rich system of mutually beneficial relationships, which is nothing short of a miracle, is what actually helps us survive and thrive. 

The Nguni people of southern Africa have a concept called ubuntu that beautifully captures this notion of mutual support. It describes how humans can only flourish through sharing and caring. No matter how technologically advanced, sophisticated and independent we get, we will still be dependent on other beings, whether they be microbes, insects, trees, sea creatures or animals.     There’s no one amongst us who is truly a “rugged individual” or a “lone wolf,” disconnected and distant from nature. 

The key to survival and flourishing on this beautiful orb, both as individuals and as a species, is caring for each other and working together.

“If we are going to preserve the viability of life on this planet, we must strive to understand the connections, the interrelatedness of all things.”

― Laurence Overmire, The One Idea That Saves The World