INTERBEING by Elizabeth Ann Bartlett

“Every life bears in some way on every other.”

                                                                                -Susan Griffin, A Chorus of Stones

This line from Susan Griffin’s profound investigation into the ways our lives are interwoven through war has been echoing in my mind frequently in recent days, as we find our hearts breaking and outraged by a distant war. In the depths of our compassion, we ache with the suffering of families huddling together in bomb shelters, a birthing woman and her baby dying on a stretcher after a maternity hospital is bombed, the poignant strains of a Chopin etude played by a woman on her piano – the only thing to survive her bombed out home.

This truth of Griffin’s words echoes throughout ancient wisdom traditions — in the indigenous recognition that all our relations — animals, plants, water, earth, stone — are kin; in the African concept of Ubuntu — “I am because we are;” in the Buddhist precept of interdependent co-arising, which Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh called simply “interbeing.” As he described it:

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