The second teaching we received at Plum Village on interconnection/interbeing is the idea that everything is made up of everything else. Everything that happens is caused by and is a cause of some other thing/event (law of cause and effect). Sometimes we are the snake (eating the frog for our nourishment), and other times we are the frog (sacrificing ourselves for the nourishment of others). One of the best ways to understand interconnection is to think about the food we eat and all the efforts and elements that must work together for us to get food onto our plates -- starting with the environment (i.e., sun, water) that nourished the plants to grow, the farmers that cultivated the crops, the people that transported our food from the farm to the market, the people in the store that sold us our food and all the loving hands that helped prepare our meal (etcetera). The food nourishes my body, so I can continue to live and contribute usefully to the lives of others; and when I die, I will return to the Earth and contribute to the ongoing, natural cycle of life. In this way, I can recognize that my comfort and joy come at the hands of someone else's efforts/sacrifices. Thus I can appreciate all the people and things that help shape my life; and be reminded to live in an intentional way, that honors all the efforts/sacrifices that have been made for me to exist.
A mindful eating meditation can be a helpful way for us to honor our interconnection with others. Below is a simple meditation you can do with your family at your next meal:
Have everyone take 3 deep breaths. You can make this fun for kids by having a child ring a bell to initiate the breathing.
Spend a moment having everyone recognize each other's presence in whatever way you think is comfortable, such as looking in each other's eyes, shaking hands, clinking glasses, etc.
Have one person read the below acknowledgements (another option is to print them out and have everyone read them silently to themselves):
This food is a gift of the whole universe - earth, sky, rain and sun.
We thank the people who have made this food, especially the farmers, people at the market and chefs.
To respect all the time and energy that went into producing this meal and reduce our waste, we do our best to only put on our plates as much food as we think we can eat.
We will do our best to chew the food slowly so that we can savor it.
We strive to use this food to give us the energy to practice being more compassionate and understanding though our deep listening and loving speech.
We eat this food in order to be healthy and happy; and to love each other as a family.
After the acknowledgements, everyone can begin eating, but silently for the first 2 minutes.
After the 2 minutes are over, have a child ring the bell again to signal the end of silence. At this time, it's okay to start talking. I recommend that all technology be banned from the table, so that people can communicate and connect with one another.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!