INTERBEING is a term coined by the pacifist Thich Nhat Hanh, describing the connectedness of all conscious being - not just of all material things. It honors that each person is fully unique, and that the totality of being is ultimately undivided by ‘separate selves’ (i.e. the basic structure of reality is not cleaved apart into separate self-timelines, but is actually one fully connected conscious process).
INTERBEING EXPERIENCE is a feeling of your ontological self-boundaries dissolving (i.e. dissolving the boundaries that make you feel fundamentally separate from each other being), and the simultaneous reassociation of your ultimate identity with all conscious experience.
INTERBEING IDENTITY is an abiding personal identification with all consciousness. The internalized notion 'I am you, and you are me' is the result of Interbeing identity. It corresponds to a shift from understanding 'I' as a bounded separate-self entity to instead a universally connected process holding all consciousness at once. 'I' becomes associated with the universal process itself, which is both you and me simultaneously.
INTERBEING DEFINITION 'Describing all beings as the transformation of a universal system of relationships, undivided by separate selves.'
The awareness that we are all connected - through and through to the level of our consciousness - creates a sense of universal kinship, of belonging to a single family of being. Interbeing instills that sense of belongingness to the very deepest level of our existence, even beyond kinship to the core of our personal identity. It gives you the capacity to extend the intimacy and connection otherwise reserved only for yourself outwards towards all people, animals, and nature.
"A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons close to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.” - Albert Einstein
As an individual you may feel great fear at the prospect of the end of life, or anxiety for those you love who are facing death. When the separateness between your individuality and the greater whole dissolves, fear, anxiety, and aversion towards death naturally dissipate. Finding Interbeing is like shifting from experiencing oneself as an individual wave in the ocean to experiencing oneself as the ocean itself arising as a wave - and in turn feeling death as a recycling of energy rather than a complete cessation of existence.
"A wave on the ocean has a beginning and an end, a birth and a death... If a wave only sees its form, with its beginning and end, it will be afraid of birth and death. But if the wave sees that it is water, identifies itself with water, then it will be emancipated from birth and death. Each wave is born and is going to die, but the water is free from birth and death." -Thich Nhat Hanh
With an awareness of all conscious experience as included in your ultimate identity comes a strong upwelling of motivation to use your unique talents in a way that serves the world and creates joy; when you view yourself as everyone there is an inherent drive to act with goodwill toward everyone. Connection to Interbeing leads towards a path in which the motivation to serve others transforms into your own growth, conviction, authenticity, and purpose.
“Human life is not authentic unless it is lived in terms of self-transcendence.” - Victor Frankl
A sense of expansiveness is felt through the association of your identity with the cosmic process at large. It feels like gazing upwards at the stars on a crisp, clear night and bottling up all the magic of the universe, while realizing that your consciousness is in its entirely a complex pattern of the same elements that brought those stars into existence. The natural outcome to making this deep connection may be hoots and howls, dancing, and tears.
“Inconceivable as it seems to ordinary reason, you and all other conscious beings as such, are all in all. Hence, this life you are living of yours is not merely a piece of the entire existence, but is in a certain sense the whole. Thus you can throw yourself flat on the ground stretched out upon mother Earth with a certain conviction that you are one with her and she with you.” - Erwin Schrodinger
Looking deeply into the eyes of your partner and becoming aware of your shared ultimate identity, as 'stardust' in a cosmic creation, seeds a strong sense of romantic intimacy. Tapping into Interbeing also gives rise to a mutual goodwill between romantic partners that creates the preconditions of romantic intimacy, including forgiveness, honesty, and empathy.
"When a man loves a woman, so that her life is present in his own, the you of her eyes allows him to gaze into a ray of the eternal you." - Martin Buber
The notion of Interbeing can be a bridge for bringing potentially overwhelming spiritual experiences back down to earthly life. Interbeing can help ground those expansive feelings by orienting them into a framework for relating to daily existence. Interbeing can validate and encode a new spiritual experience of self, which otherwise could be jolting or fleeting.
"The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths; of exquisite interrelationships; of the awesome machinery of nature. The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore we've learned most of what we know. Recently, we've waded a little way out, maybe ankle deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." - Carl Sagan
The framework of Interbeing provides a detailed and empirically rooted language from which to describe rich inner experiences. Otherwise, after self-transcendent experiences people may be left speechless, or with terse phrases like 'I am the universe' or 'I am everyone', which may be heard by skeptics as 'woo woo' or non-sense. Having a developed and empirical language allows for discussion of non-ordinary experience to be communicated about with respect across disciplines.
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”- Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Interbeing makes religious doctrines more comprehensible and interpretable in terms of universal truths. Interbeing can be very helpful for anyone who might otherwise turn away from religion because of not understanding it, to instead approach the teachings with a more open mind. It can be a like a Rosetta Stone for interpreting metaphors across religions. For example, unless the notion of 'I' was understood in terms of Interbeing, the following words by Jesus could be very confusing:
"I am in my Father and you in me and I in you." - Jesus
Our greater Interbeing identity exists as everything that is, and allows you to relax your personal egocentric ambitions. Through Interbeing awareness you can put your personal ego to rest, in the knowledge that your ultimate identity will have all experiences. It gives you the deep sense that there is no point in becoming distraught over comparisons, because you already are both sides of the coin.
"When you get the blanket thing [Interbeing] you can relax because everything you could ever want, or be, you already have and are." - David Russel, 'I Heart Huckabees'
When you connect to Interbeing alongside many others, you have greater confidence in the goodwill and trustworthiness of each other. In turn, as a group you can achieve greater cooperation and productivity.
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives... Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged... To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” - Carl Sagan
Interbeing serves as an inner compass, pointing in the direction of symbiotic actions that serve the greater whole, and in turn create more love and goodness in your own life. Through feeling into your Interbeing identity literally existing as each 'other', the awareness can guide you to clarity when making difficult life decisions that involve attunement to the experience of others.
"The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. It is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness. Until we go to the root of our image of separateness, there can be no healing. And the deepest part of our separateness from creation lies in our forgetfulness of its sacred nature, which is also our own sacred nature." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
What goes around does indeed come around, and Interbeing is a hugely motivating force to put out goodness to other conscious beings. Inevitably the goodness comes back around. Especially when putting out the goodness comes from an authentic place. There is no better way to get connected to authentic motivation to help others than to include them into a greater sense of shared self.
“Interbeing means more than interconnection or interdependency, which kind of suggest separate selves having relationship. Interbeing is more of an understanding that we are relationship. That my very existence depends, or draws from, or includes, your existence. So my well being is intimately connected to your well-being or to the well-being of the river, the forest, people across the world, and so forth. Because I’m not really separate from you. And that means that in the story of well-being whatever I do to the world will come back to me.” - Charles Eisenstein