The Three Characteristics of All Things and Interbeing

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1 The Three Characteristics of All Things and Interbeing On the night of his Enlightenment, the Buddha saw clearly that all things share three basic characteristics. The Buddha saw that understanding this deeply, and living accordingly, is essential in the quest for lasting happiness. IMPERMANENCE INABILITY TO SATISFIY US COMPLETELY NO PERMANENT OR SEPARATE SELF

2 The Three Marks of Existence ANNICA Nothing is permanent. Change is inevitable and necessary and is a condition of impermanence. This is neither positive or negative. It is a clear view of the world. IT JUST IS. But we constantly seek to create permanence, to attach ourselves to things. Therefore DUKKHA Suffering is inevitable but it has a beginning and a cessation. ANATTA No Self. Nothing is permanent, including ourselves. We are a constantly changing combination of forces and energies. This is not a Buddhist teaching statement but if you watch the conditions of body and mind, you realise that they come and go. The belief that we have a fixed self causes dukkha.

3 ANNICA: Nothing is permanent Exercise: Turn your attention to the natural world and notice how it changes. The seasons, day and night, flowers, the shape of the moon are all good examples. Remember just to observe this rather than judge whether this is a good or bad thing. It just is. Can you think of anything that unchanging? How might denial of annica lead to the second characteristic: DUKKHA?

4 Exercise: Turn your attention to manmade objects. Pick anything from the classroom and notice how it is impermanent. Again, just notice rather than cast judgement on this: it s neither good nor bad, it just is. Notice how all things are impermanent. Observe how no moment, no thing, no feeling, no thought is permanent. It will change. Exercise: Observe your own thoughts. This is more difficult. Notice how each thought passes Try not judge the thoughts or identify with them; simply notice that they are. Be a watchful, interested observer of your own thoughts.

5 ANATTA Exercise Because things are constantly changing, they are made up of other things which are themselves constantly changing. There is no fixed identity or separate self. Consider whether this is the case for:- Cakes Cars Trees People. What is the essence of each of these? Do any of these have a fixed, unchanging identity? When does a cake become a cake? At what point does a car become a car? When did you become you?

6 Interbeing We saw previously how all things are made up of other things (which are in a constant state of flux - anicca) So all things are interdependent, not independent: they inter-are. Modern Physics On a quantum level, there not a mass of separate objects in a room, they all connect, they are all a mass of interbeing molecules and atoms which are in a constant state of flux

7 INTERBEING suggests that all things are made up of other things, that nothing is independent. All things are interdependent: they inter-are. Exercise 1. Read Interbeing from Peace in Every Step by THICH NHAT HANH where he describes how a sheet of paper interbes with everything in the Universe. 2. Choose an object, preferably one that you can see from where you are, and look deeply into it in the same way that the writer in the passage looks deeply into the sheet of paper. 3. Now write down what you see in it. You might like to do this in the form of a spider diagram. Explore just how much you can find in this object. Imagine that the spider diagram is a 3D spider web. All the points of the web interbe with all other points. They inter-are. 4. Read the passage Flowers and Garbage which explains the relevance of interbeing in social terms. How might the recognition of interbeing affect the way we see and treat the following: the food we eat, the environment, the people whom we dislike?

8 Please Call Me by My True Names After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate and me. Can we look in each other and recognise ourselves in each other? The title of the poem is Please Call Me by My True Names, because I have so many names. When I hear one of these names I have to say, Yes Thich Nhat Hanh The poem is about the rape of the girl on a boat by a sea pirate. Exercise Write a poem Seeing All Sides which explores how interbeing can help us to find understanding of, and compassion for, those we dislike. They can write it in the same style as Please Call Me by My True Names or otherwise. They should use real people whom they have encountered or peoplewho are vilified by the media.

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