The Story of Interbeing

Two days ago I wrote of the Story of Separation/Ascension. Now I will discuss the new story. It’s another story that has been present throughout human history, perhaps even before the Story of Separation took hold. However, it has existed primarily on the fringes of human society. Oftentimes the people living this narrative were imprisoned, enslaved, or killed due to the threat that this alternative story posed to the dominant narrative. Entire cultures were dominated and slaughtered due to the apparent subversiveness of this story. Fortunately, though, the time in which living this alternative way of being was a threat to one’s own survival is passing. Those who have maintained and protected this life-way in secret are finally stepping up to share their gifts with the rest of humanity. The fear that kept this story in the dark for thousands of years is finally falling away, allowing us as a species to step into a new way of being. We are being invited. The invitation resounds from many sources. We can feel it in the profound resonant quality of the best mythology. We can hear it in the wisdom of native ways of life. We can see it in profound acts of kindness, the sort that inspires and brings a tear to the eye. This story has always existed, and we’ve always known it. It is the ancient teaching that has been passed down reverently in those groups who respected it. It’s an idea we’re all familiar with, whether or not we choose to accept it. The idea that the wisest among us have always shared in one form or another. The idea is very simple and contains a truth to which we may all relate to some extent. The idea is this: We are all one. There is a new story contained in this idea. A Story (as Eisenstein calls it) of Interbeing.

What is the Story of Interbeing? Paradoxically, it seems clearer than the prevailing story humankind has lived in for so long. Perhaps since the majority of us don’t live within the Story of Interbeing, it is easier to recognize as it is. Regardless, I don’t feel as though it needs to be explained in great detail. However, this is what it means to me.

The Story of Interbeing recognizes the fact that although each of us is an individual with our own thoughts, feelings, and motivations- we are all intimately connected to each other. In fact, we rely on one another entirely. Whereas the Story of Separation says, “I need to take care of myself because no one else will,” the Story of Interbeing says, “I need to take are of my loved ones and my community, because that benefits us all.” You see, the Story of Interbeing does not say we are fundamentally at odds with one another. The Story of Interbeing says quite the opposite in fact. It says that without you being you, I could not be me. The more I delve into this, the less clear it seems. Allow me to take a step back.

As I said, the heart of the Story of Interbeing is that we are all intimately connected with one another, whether we realize it or not. What does that mean? It seems clear that we are all distinct, separate individuals. Though looked at in a different way that may not be true. Ecologists recognize that all species in an ecosystem play a distinct role within the functioning of that ecosystem that benefits all of it’s members. A prime example of that may be found right here. When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National park, the entire park was effected and improved. Even the wolves’ prey were positively impacted.

Humans and trees may be distinct individuals. Although, it shouldn’t take much for one to consider the fact that trees and humans depend upon each other. The exhalation of a tree is the inhalation of a human and vice versa. A tree exhales oxygen which is necessary for human life. A human exhales carbon dioxide which is necessary for tree life. We may seem as though we’re separate but we truly could not live without one another. Or at the very least, plants and animals as a whole rely on one another.

Native societies knew this very well. We all have the romantic image of the native living at one with nature. While that image may not be entirely without it’s flaws and projections, it is true that Native Americans, for example, lived in a way that allowed the plants an animals around them to flourish rather than perish. By doing so, the lives’ of the Natives’ themselves were enriched.

New forms of science are beginning to reveal an image of the Universe that is far more entwined and connected than the billiard ball Universe that we once imagined. New quantum data has suggested entangles particles ( So-called quantum entanglement says that two particles that are spatially separated often behave as if they are connected. If one has “spin-up” orientation the other will have the opposite “spin-down” orientation. This occurs even though the spin orientation is impossible for us to predict. I won’t pretend to know the full implications of this discovery, quantum physics is still in its infancy. What is apparent, though, is that two entangled particles are very closely related even though there is no apparent physical connection. That’s a far cry from the objects and forces Universe in classical physics.

All this is well and good, but what does it mean on a human level? We’ve all heard it before. To quote one particular version of this teaching, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we are all really so intimately connected, then this teaching takes on a new dimension. This is not simply some moral imperative of how to be a “good” person. But if I am intimately connected to other people, then by extending compassion to others, I am extending compassion to myself. By improving my community, I am improving myself. By loving others, I am loving myself. This may sound like a whole bunch of hippy-dippy nonsense, but we all have experienced the deep feeling of inner peace when treating another with kindness. Empathy truly does connect us. Witnessing pain is painful. Witnessing joy is joyful. Witnessing love is heartwarming. Kindness feels good!

What if we lived in a story which recognized and honored these connections? What if we lived in a world in which vulnerability was okay due to mutual trust and respect? What if we lived in a world in which we recognized our mutual reliance? What if we valued cooperation as much as competition?

If you’re like me, this line of questioning has been going on for many years. I may not have figured out the answers to these questions, but I know I’d like to find them. The only way to do so, as I see it, is to live this Story of Interbeing. I do not fully inhabit the Story of Interbeing, but I would like to. This raises perhaps the biggest, most important question: How do I fully live that story?

This suggests the importance of a new story. We have separation, we have interbeing, but there is no clear path from one story to the other. This is the path I am on, along with many others. This is the purpose of this blog. The bridge between dreams: the path from one story to another. The third story is my life. It may be yours as well. This is the Story of Reunion. I have much to say about that, but I will get into that later. 😉


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