The Vietnamese Buddhist sage, Thich Nhat Hanh, hoped that one day the word "interbeing" would make it into the dictionary. Interbeing suggests that all life is connected at a very deep level of subjectivity. It is for each of us to "illuminate" that quality of interbeing by our own spiritual practice, which includes engagement with the world at multiple levels.
Recently, I have had the privilege to be with interfaith co-workers in Washington, D.C., "reimagining interfaith." It was a wonderful experience of fellowship, shared values and dedication to working for healing, peace and justice for all creation.
What emerged for me from Reimagine Interfaith in D.C. is that we have an opportunity to lead by example, by allowing radical love and compassion to bring down all walls dividing groups within interfaith work and the peace movement, to create affiliations across the institutional boundaries, affiliations that are sacred and engaged. We all have the opportunity to allow radical love and compassion to expand the circles of inclusion.
It was in 1988 that a group of us gathered in Wichita, KS, to talk about creating a network of interfaith councils across North America. This event turned into NAIN, the North American Interfaith Network, which has since done a stellar job in connecting interfaith leaders around North America annually, discovering Martin Luther King and friends in Atlanta, Thomas Jefferson and friends in Virginia, and who knows what in Las Vegas!
The campfire at NAIN in Wichita brought together the great religious traditions of the planet. We have all seen the T-Shirts with these traditions' sacred symbols, COEXIST! Which is lovely and deeply meaningful. However, our inclusion, our campfire needs to include even more! During the D.C. gathering, I shared that I have two daughters who are "spiritual but not religious;" and, one of my daughters is transgender, something she shared that she was only comfortable doing in this generation.
There is a benign tsunami coming… the next generation. Globally, more and more are comfortable to identify as "spiritual" but not "religious." As Huston Smith has suggested religion will always have an important place at the table, as the river bed, whose water is either the abundance or lack of spirituality. Perhaps it is good that we examine the water level and the quality of the water!
Lao Tzu shares in his immortal words that Supreme Reality, TAO, of existence cannot be bottled or institutionalized; "the Tao that can be named is not the Eternal Tao." From 2,500 years ago, this coming generation echoes these wise words. My daughters resist the labels with words like, "NONE." Labels and words actually help define our limitations, creating the context for functional communication. But, as Wittgenstein suggests, words can be "a cage."
"It is high time that (each of us) had a religious experience so personal and so sublime that it could be realized and expressed only by 'feelings that lie too deep for words.'" (The Urantia Book, 99:5.9)
Out of this contemplative stance, illuminated interbeing, comes the inspiration for "dedicated interdoing." What I have learned in my community work with the medically fragile, vmsn.org, the children, caanv.org, anytownlv.org, and with non-profit leaders, jamesonfellowship.org, is that if we truly come to experience "interbeing," we are invited to the opportunity for "interdoing." Our community issues are best solved in a "collective impact" manner. The education sector desperately needs the other sectors, social services, arts& culture, healthcare, workforce development, environment to help solve its issues. I invite you to examine one such collective impact solution unfolding in our community through gardens, Green Our Planet, greenourplanet.org.
The possibility for such "interdoing" is predicated upon trust. At our Free and Charitable Medical Clinic, vmsn.org, TRUST stands for Teamwork, Respect for all, Unity & Urgency of mission, Service with excellence, and Transparency, TRUST. We build that trust one circle at a time, within ourselves, within our families, within our communities, within our nation, globally.
I invite you to examine the good work of Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness, who has elegantly invited us to engage in a new quality of trust, that leads to character, that leads to a healing of institutions: religious, political, economic, social.
My favorite definition for religion is: faith, trust, and assurance. Trust is the middle name of our religious and spiritual traditions. Without trust, these traditions become irrelevant. The same might be said of our economic, political and social institutions, as well. Have you noticed?
And, so, we need spiritual practices that illuminate our being, that connect us to "interbeing." Teilhard de Chardin let us know, along with others, that joy is the infallible sign of the divine. Our traditions suggest that joy is our birthright. Let us have the contemplative presence to immerse ourselves in that quality of being, so that we might go into the world ready to engage "dedicated interdoing!" May our legacy be that we ignited "interbeing" in such a manner as to bring hope and healing to our troubled planet by our "interdoing!"