Excerpt from “Happiness” by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Sangha is a garden, full of many varieties of tress and flowers. When we can look at ourselves and at others as beautiful, unique flowers and trees we can truly grow to understand and love one another. One flower may bloom early in the spring and another flower may bloom in late summer. One tree may bear many fruits and another tree may offer cool shad. No one plant is greater or lesser or the same as any other plant in the garden. Each member of the Sangha also has unique gifts to offer to the community. We each have areas that need attention as well. When we can appreciate each member’s contribution and see our weaknesses as potential for growth, we can learn to live together harmoniously. Our practice is to see that we are a flower or a tree, and we are the whole garden as well, all interconnected.
To be really means to inter-be. Just as a flower relies on the sunshine, on the cloud, on the earth in order to be, so it is with all of us. None of us can be by ourselves alone. Interbeing is the teaching of the Buddha that everything is made by and made up of everything else. If we return the sunshine to the sun, the water to the cloud, the soil to the earth, then there can no longer be any flower. A flower is made of only non-flower elements. That is why we say a flower is empty of self. It’s full of everything and empty of a separate self. We are empty, and we are made from the cosmos. Looking at one person, we can see the whole cosmos and all our ancestors. In each person, we can see the air, water, journeys, joys, and sorrows that have come before us We contain all the information needed for the understanding of the cosmos. If we can see the nature of interbeing, then we will suffer much less and we will understand why it is important to be in community.