We’re all porcupines Interbeing

How wonderful is this tale of our interconnectedness…

It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions.

After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the warmth that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

In his talks at Plum Village before he suffered a stroke in November 2014 Thich Nhat Hanh often talked about our interconnectedness, or as he said ‘interbeing’. He said “This word is not in the dictionary yet’ but I hope one day it will be”. I use it all the time and I think it’s a word (and its meaning!) we all need to be more aware of as we cannot live in splendid isolation, we all need other people and animals, insects and beings of all kinds to enable us to live, love and flourish.

I am because of everyone else. Everyone who I’ve ever met, those who have made an impact small or large have shaped me into this person I am now. And similarly you are because of everyone else too. Your primary school teacher, your sports coach, your priest, your dog, your parents, your friends, your favourite books, films and TV programmes, your neighbours, the places you’ve visited, the adventures you’ve had, your colleagues, your politicians and the strangers in the local supermarket. We are all products of our environment, we are all part of the global village.

With my t-shirt made in Vietnam, my shoes made in Italy and my make-up from America and my potatoes from Comber I cannot live and enjoy life just on my own basis I rely on everyone else, mostly those I have never and will never meet. And of course without the bees we’re told life on earth will end in fours years. How fragile we are. How much do we need every living thing, how important it is for all of us to recognise and respect this.

Everything you think, do and say has an impact on the whole and no one is perfect. We’re all perfectly imperfect, so don’t get offended when people, events or insects do things you don’t like or rub you up the wrong way, muddling along together is how we’ve got this far and with mindfulness we will continue beautifully into the future, fully aware of our interconnectedness and interbeing to all things great and small. x

The story of the porcupine above was taken from a talk by the wonderful Tara Brach. xx

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