Nature and Nonviolence

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You don’t discriminate between the seed and the plant. You see that they ‘inter-are’ with each other, that they are the same thing. Looking deeply at the young cornstalk, you can see the seed of corn, still alive, but with a new appearance. The plant is the continuation of the seed.

The practice of meditation helps us to see things other people can’t see. We look deeply and we see that father and son, father and daughter, mother and son, mother and daughter, corn seed and cornstalk, have a very close relationship. That is why we should awaken to the fact, to the truth, that we inter-are. The suffering of one is the suffering of the other. [...] When we see that we and all living beings are made of the same nature, how can there be division between us? How can there be lack of harmony? When we realize our ‘interbeing nature’, we’ll stop blaming and exploiting and killing, because we know that we inter-are. That is the great awakening we must have in order for the Earth to be saved.

We human beings have always singled ourselves out from the rest of the natural world. We classify other animals and living beings as ‘Nature’, a thing apart from us, and act as if we’re somehow separate from it. Then we ask, “How should we deal with Nature?” We should deal with Nature the same way we should deal with ourselves: nonviolently. Human beings and Nature are inseparable. Just as we should not harm ourselves, we should not harm Nature.

Causing harm to other human beings causes harm to ourselves. Accumulating wealth and owning excessive portions of the world’s natural resources deprives fellow humans of the chance to live. Participating in oppressive and unjust social systems creates and deepens the gap between rich and poor, and aggravates the situation of social injustice. While the rest of the human family suffers and starves, the enjoyment of false security and wealth is a delusion.

It’s clear that the fate of each individual is inextricably linked to the fate of the whole human race. We must let others live if we ourselves want to live. The only alternative to coexistence is co-nonexistence. A civilization in which we must kill and exploit others in order to live is not a healthy civilization. [...] To bring about peace within the human family, we must work for harmonious co-existence. If we continue to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world, imprisoning ourselves in narrow concerns and immediate problems, we’re not likely to make peace or to survive. The human race is part of Nature. We need to have this insight before we can have harmony between people. 

--Thich Nhat Hanh in "Nature and Nonviolence"

Seed questions for reflection: How can we develop the vision to see the seed from which the plant has come? Can you share a story of an experience where you were able to see beyond the apparent and recognize your connectedness with the universe? What does "inter-are" mean to you?

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5 Previous Reflections:

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    On Mar 20, 2020 annabailey wrote:
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    On May 30, 2012 PASTOR THADDEUS UBA AUSTIN wrote:

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    On May 29, 2012 David Doane wrote:
     The seed and the plant are different forms or expressions of one Being, but they are different.  They inter-are, but they are not the same.  That is the mystery.  We are made of the same nature, and we are distinct forms of that same nature.  The fact that there are different and distinct expressions of one nature does not preclude harmony, and pretending that there is no difference does not preclude exploiting and killing.  We are one.  We are many different and distinct expressions of the one, and that does not preclude that we inter-are and we are one.  Actually, realizing that we are different and distinct expressions of the one supports and fosters harmony.

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    On May 24, 2012 Dinesh Mehta wrote:

    Last night, we had the delightful honor to host the inspiring Nimo and many coordinators of the Ekatva tour.  The heartwarming stories of the 16 children and more is shared in some of these audio clips ...

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    On May 23, 2012 JackForest wrote:
     I just watched Episode two of Julian Assange's "The World Tomorrow". It's a debate between Slavoj Zizek and David Horowitz. In it Horowtiz states that war is the natural state of human beings and has been for millennia. That human beings are always trying to gain one up on each other through conquest. He also praised the checks of balances introduced by America's "founding fathers" to ensure that no single part of the government every gained too much power.

    Obviously they did this because they recognized that power is a drug and that human beings cannot be trusted to always wield it justly and nobly. Instead their greed and vanity will often triumph.

    Interesting to contrast such thoughts against Thich Naht Hanh's.

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