Thay teacher , as he is called by his friends and students, was born in central Vietnam in He became a novice monk in the Vietnamese Zen tradition at 16 years of age and received full monastic ordination six years later see full lineage history. By his early twenties he was a national known poet and writer, focusing his attention on ways to make Buddhist practice applicable to everyday life and social issues. In Vietnam, Thay established the School of Youth for Social Services SYSS , a training program for young social workers wishing to bring practical aid and social support to war-torn villages. Realizing that the roots of the war were outside Vietnam as well as inside it, Thay agreed to come to the U.
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Everything relies on everything else in order to manifest. By Thich Nhat Hanh Emptiness does not mean nothingness. Saying that we are empty does not mean that we do not exist. No matter if something is full or empty, that thing clearly needs to be there in the first place.
When we say a cup is empty, the cup must be there in order to be empty. When we say that we are empty, it means that we must be there in order to be empty of a permanent, separate self. About thirty years ago I was looking for an English word to describe our deep interconnection with everything else. We inter-are with one another and with all life. There is a biologist named Lewis Thomas, whose work I appreciate very much.
Without them, we could not be here in this moment. There are, he says, no solitary beings. The whole planet is one giant, living, breathing cell, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis.
We can observe emptiness and interbeing everywhere in our daily life. The way she looks, the way she acts, the things she says. If at times we cannot understand why the child is acting a certain way, it is helpful to remember that she is not a separate self-entity. She is a continuation. Her parents and ancestors are inside her. When she walks and talks, they walk and talk as well. Looking into the child, we can be in touch with her parents and ancestors, but equally, looking into the parent, we can see the child.
We do not exist independently. We inter-are. Everything relies on everything else in the cosmos in order to manifest—whether a star, a cloud, a flower, a tree, or you and me. I remember one time when I was in London, doing walking meditation along the street, and I saw a book displayed in a bookshop window with the title My Mother, Myself.
And so whenever we are angry at our mother or father, we are also being angry at ourselves. Whatever we do, our parents are doing it with us.
They are in us, and we are in them. We are the continuation of all our ancestors. Thanks to impermanence, we have a chance to transform our inheritance in a beautiful direction. Every time I offer incense or prostrate before the altar in my hermitage, I do not do this as an individual self but as a whole lineage. Whenever I walk, sit, eat, or practice calligraphy, I do so with the awareness that all my ancestors are within me in that moment.
I am their continuation. I know I cannot remove my mother or my ancestors from me. They are present in all my cells, in my gestures, in my capacity to draw a beautiful circle. Nor can I remove my spiritual teachers from my hand.
They are there in the peace, concentration, and mindfulness I enjoy as I make the circle. We are all drawing the circle together. There is no separate self doing it.
While practicing calligraphy, I touch the profound insight of no self. It becomes a deep practice of meditation. We can see their presence when we express a talent or skill they have transmitted to us. We can see their hands in ours as we prepare a meal or wash the dishes. We can experience profound connection and free ourselves from the idea that we are a separate self through the conscious recognition of interbeing.
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During the Vietnam War, he left his monastery and became actively engaged in helping victims of the war and publicly advocating peace. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over the years, Thich Nhat Hanh has made efforts to help Vietnamese children affected by the war and to ensure the safety of boat people. For the past several years he has been leading mindfulness retreats for American Vietnam War veterans, psychotherapists, environmentalists, social-change activists, and many others. He lives in exile now in Plum Village , a retreat center in southern France where he teaches, writes, gardens, and works to help refugees. Photograph by Simon Chaput Tricycle: Hundreds of thousands of people are in touch with Buddhism only through you.
Interbeing with Thich Nhat Hanh: An Interview
They have been expanded and updated so that they represent a way to bring mindfulness into every area of life. Rather than hard and fast rules, they offer as a framework to reflect on our actions, speech and thinking so we can create more happiness for ourself and for the world around us. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness. They are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal. They are true practices of compassion and understanding. All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The first training is to protect life, to decrease violence in oneself, in the family and in society.
The Insight of Interbeing
Zen Buddhism Expert B. But what does it mean? And does "interbeing" represent a new teaching in Buddhism? To answer the last question first -- no, interbeing is not a new Buddhist teaching.