G G’s Initial Response Post :: Sources :: I n t e r b e i n g

S o u r c e s

Here’s a text by Thich Nhat Hanh on interbeing (285 words), which I’m offering as a my contribution to this week’s potlatch … salad bar … mandala … castle … cove … collection, gathering our initial responses to this week’s prompt. As you’ll see — the source text itself is meant to be printed out. You’re free to respond to it, and/or to my commentary (390 words) below, if the spirit moves – after you’ve posted your own initial response to this week’s prompt, presenting to the course a personal source text or image or file (wellsprings; paradigm; inspiration; touchstone; vehicle; compass; influence), and how it fits in to your life and work, and perhaps ours



When I was six or seven, shazam ! a vision came to me. Three or four years later, I bought a pocketbook called The Way of Zen.  I soon discovered an explanation there for what I’d experienced, Moreover, I so admired the correlation of what I was reading throughout the book with everything I knew about myself, and how it mapped how I resonate with the universe, I’ve identified as a child of the Buddha ever since. (I’m Jewish, on my parents’ side.)

So, primary, initial source: a transpersonal experience; direct knowing. A few more interlinked sources come into play, to this cluster, all leading up to my own primary text for the week. 

After putting my young feet on the Path, I looked around for guidance. Well, in those days, there were more Buddhas sitting behind glass cases in museums, than living Buddhas sitting on cushions, available to teach. So I continued absorbing material from books, primarily what I could practice.

Along the way, I’ve been blessed to have encountered a number of gifted masters as teachers. Eventually, I saw a clipping in the newspaper that led me to a talk by a visiting Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. From his presence and that of his community of practice, I knew I’d found my living teacher.

The cluster goes full circle ( or spirals ) from there: like many true masters, Thich Nhat Hanh points to our true guide within each of us. And the trail leads back to books: a prolific author, his works combine the specificity of topics with an emphasis on direct experience of Source.

So, this clusters sources: a vision, a book, a living teacher, a community of practice, and my inner awakening wisdom — into a chain of lineage

My post ends, full circle, with a word my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh coined for the essence of my vision: interbeing. This neologism may well be a better term than pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit : प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद ; Pali : पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda). English translators had tried dependent origination or dependent arising, dependent co-arising, interdependent coarising, conditioned arising, but – it’s interbeing, for me.



13 comments for “G G’s Initial Response Post :: Sources :: I n t e r b e i n g

  1. January 8, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Thank you Gary, amazing inter-connections.

    While reading I remembered that when I was choosing where to study Psychology my father told me: “why don’t you pick this university, there is a new school of psychology, but it will be maybe one of the best schools in 10 years”. That happened in 2002.

    In my second year (around October of 2004) of study I was in a deep process and with a huge desire of inner connection. In that period I had a teacher who had been trained by Stan Grof, and he gave us some Grof articles to read, which led me to search and take my first holotropic breathwork workshop. After working for two years in human resources consulting I came back to the same university to teach in 2009. In 2013 this university began to pay part of my studies at Sofia with the aim that I can have PhD.

    This short version of the story is what came while reading about the interbeing. Of course I wouldn’t be here if my father and mother, and other people, haven’t came together in the past, but also, what would have happened without the guidance… whitout that new school, whitout that professor, whitout the need that I had during those years… Most of my years after studying at that university became into years devoted to work in the same place, and they became an important sponsor to study what I love at Sofia. Interbeing, interbe, inter-connections…

  2. January 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Thank you Gary for sharing your source, very inspiring. I must admit that you started very early – six or seven! When I was six or seven, I was still trying to figure out whether I should be scientist as my radiologist mother always wanted, or a TCM doctor as my father preferred, eventually my rebellious self chose neither, instead I tried to be a politician, an enormous round-about before I finally reached back to my source.

    Your discussion on paṭiccasamuppāda, or the interbeing coined by Thich Nhat Hanh is enlightening. The Chinese translation is 緣起, created by 緣, part of the Nidānas. I have always found this explanation kind of circular definition. BTW, just read the news that Thich Nhat Hanh wakes from coma earlier today. The energy of love.

  3. TJ
    January 8, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Thank you, Gary – the first ‘word’ I can recognize in the script is ‘being’ – and the ‘g’ swoops me back to the beginning to decipher what must be an ‘I’ – ah, ‘Interbeing’. Very enjoyable! 🙂

  4. January 9, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Thank you, Tom, Sylvia, Felipe.

    The calligraphy is by Thich Nhat Hanh

    The Sino-Vietnamese spelling he uses for Intebeing : 接现 ( Tiếp Hiện ) Tiếp means “being in touch with” and “continuing.” Hiện means “realizing” and “making it here and now.” Musical, in French : Interêtre.

    What would it be in Spanish, Felipe?
    I hear in your comments both the Buddhist concept of “causes & conditions” ( Inen, in Japanese ), but moreover your finding and testing truth for yourself, in life, your life, ( which is all life ) Encantada


  5. January 9, 2015 at 4:01 am

    mmm, let me think.

    “inter” I believe is pretty the same in spanish, which means for us something like “what is shared between something”, or something that involves “different entities into one thing”. Is the complement of “intra” which means something that is inside, and belongs to one entity or being.
    “Being” or “to be” in spanish is “ser”. For example “to be or not to be” is for us “ser o no ser”.
    But I think that “interbeing” means that some things are implicate between each other, in spanish: “Pero pienso que ‘inter-ser’ significa que algunas cosas están implicadas entre sí”.

    • January 10, 2015 at 7:19 am

      I think “Inter-ser” works.
      I had not heard this conjoined word before, but I think it has the same effect as inter-being, and it could be explained in the same context. Also, in Spanish we could say “Inter-somos” (We inter-are).

      • January 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm


        i checked &, alas, there are not official sanghas in tradition of http://plumvilllage.org
        thich nhat hanh in chile however his works are translated into spanish
        ( here in san francisco bay area, we have a songha for spanish-speakers ;
        & our monastery in southern California has been attracting more & more
        people from Mexico )
        In the private group at GoodReads for this course, I’ve surveyed a few of his books;
        they’re probably all in Spanish language translation
        Mindfulness — another word that’s not native
        ( in french : plein consicence )



  6. January 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm


    Above is my cut and paste of an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh that Gary’s post lead me to discover. I am new to Thich Nhat Hanh and am enjoying youtubing him. His analogies he uses are about flowers, and since our prompt for this week was about the dandelion–I feel the above youtube video is very apropos.

    Basically he says that all forms of energies, such as anger, can be seen as a flower and that mindfulness is equivalent to the sunshine.

    And he speaks of how we can transform the negative energies with mindfulness breathing.

    Thank you for inspiring me, Gary.
    🙂 Flora

    • January 10, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      thank me ?
      thank Thich Nhat Hanh
      the teacher ( the source )

      prego !

      your note taking
      by the way
      is wonder-full

  7. January 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    My notes of what I have learned from Thich Nhat Hahn today: Each moment is passing. We go from moment to moment to moment. Each moment is a new.
    Produce significant changes in this moment and this will create or indicate your future. Thus, your future is always changing. Be mindful of the nature of impermanence and a fluidity will become a flow and we will un-stick ourselves from the suffering.
    Connect to the truth that we are at peace. This peace is always available to us. I am OK and all is well.
    This fluidity allows me to move around time/space and different realities.

    • January 10, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      Your steps are clearly already
      on the Path

      You’ve touched on many truths
      & articulate them each with breath
      of personal understanding ; living them

      You are appreciating each & their interconnection

      The timelessness of the present moment

      Karma as not predestination but rather
      my actions are my only belongings


      Seeing the nature of What Is
      my lifestyle changes to be in accord

      &c etc etcetera & so on

      I’ve posted an introduction to his writings
      at the private hangout i created for our group
      at GoodReads I’m glad you’re enjoying
      streaming recordings … You might also wish to enjoy
      his Dharma talks online at http://plumvillage.org
      is how I get to TNHaudio … right now, I’m enjoying
      him in French …

      A v a n t i
      siempre avanti

  8. January 9, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I enjoy the life and path of Thich Nhat Hahn, and sit with his strength as he is on his human journey here. Living and attempting to survive in this realm. Amazing his breath and strength coming out of a two month coma. I am moved by the ever changing and mindful way impermancence plays a part in this experience we call life.

    • January 10, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      one of my close friends in Thay’s community wonders if he’s instead giving each of us a teaching
      some Zen teachers have been known to say “last words” and then die, on the spot

      for instance
      one might say
      what you value in Thay
      are qualities within yourself
      ( how else could you notice them )


      a lotus for you


      a buddha to be

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