lotus and koi
Thich Nhat Hanh is well known for coining the term “interbeing,” which refers to the interconnectedness of all things. Over the years, he has frequently used the image of a flower to explain this teaching. Sunflower, orchid, lotus – if you are mindful and concentrated, you can see that a flower is made of infinite non-flower elements. A flower is made up of not just rain but also the cloud that released the rain. It’s made up of not just soil but also the decomposed plants and animals that enrich the soil. If you remove any of the non-flower elements from the flower, the flower ceases to exist. “So the flower cannot exist alone,” Thich Nhat Hanh told me. “It has to inter-be with everything else in the cosmos.” The same is true of people. “A human being is made of non-human elements, and if you remove the non-human elements, the human being is no longer there. So a human cannot be by herself alone. She has to inter-be with everything else in the cosmos.”
“It’s like the lotus and the mud. Without the mud, you cannot grow a lotus. Without the mud of suffering, you cannot create happiness. This is why, if you touch the nature of interbeing, you don’t try to run away from suffering anymore. Instead you try to embrace your suffering. You look deeply into it to understand its nature and to lean how to make good use of suffering to produce happiness.”

– Andrea Miller interviewing Thich Nhat Hanh (from Shambhala Sun issue January 2013)


Chan Khong on Mindfulness

The key…is to practice mindfulness. “When your body and mind are not one, you do not see deeply,” she says. “You are in front of your brother, but your mind is on many other things, so you don’t really see your brother. Maybe he is having some trouble, but you don’t see it, not even when you share the same room. But mindfulness brings you there, to the present, and then you see. Train yourself all day long to bring your mind to your body and to be present with your food, your friends, your work, everything, because the more you concentrate, the deeper you will see.”

– Chan Khong (from Shambhala Sun issue May 2012)