Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese monk and master teacher, talks about the reality of “interbeing,” the total connection and interpenetration of all things. Sitting in the coffeehouse where I am wont to work, seeing all of us eating our salads and drinking our coffee, I consider interbeing, Source and Return, and the nature of Union.
Source, that “place” or “way” to Which/Whom we address our prayers and practices, is where we are not merely connected, not even merely interpenetrating, but one-with. Perhaps not even one-with, as that suggests that there is Something Else to be one with. At Source, there is only One.
Mystics travel to this land of Union, and many, upon return, spend their lives trying to give the gift of Union to others. They make poems, write books, give talks—if they dare to write or speak about what has befallen them.
You see, the second we try to grasp the Union, the second we try to make it stay somehow, we have already moved away from it. The Union is already shattered and we are on our way back to the small self. We are separate.
And that separation is not wrong or bad or evil. It is how we learn. It is how we are able to live in the world as we know it. It is how we understand ourselves as beings. To live always in Union is…well, I cannot fathom it. I think the “drunk” Sufi poets Hafiz and Rumi come closest, perhaps, to walking through this world utterly immersed in the Beloved.
The master teacher Suzuki is reported to have said, “Enlightenment is an accident. Practice makes us accident prone.” That is, Union is grace. All have access to the Divine Source. And yet there are ways of being, ways of seeking wisdom and compassion that “put us in the way of grace.”
So we pray and we chant. We meditate and we sing. We build our practice to pierce the veils between us and other ways of being. We listen for the wisdom of the dead in the rushing water and the rustling grass. We attend to the movement of the Spirit within our own hearts.
We are desperate to experience….nothing. That is to say, No-Thing. In the All, in the place, the way, the no-thing, there is no differentiation, and so there can be no things. In order for there to be something, there has to be limitation, boundary, finitude. But none of these things is with the All. The All is Nothing.
And so the mystics speak, when they can speak, of the impossible limitlessness of the Sea of the Goddess, of the Ocean of God’s Mercy. They speak of the All that Is All. Or they speak of the light in the darkness that is the darkness itself that is all light.
For now, we mortals, let us practice. Let us put ourselves in the way of grace. Let us be accident-prone.
Blessings on you and your house.