On Love, Action and Inter-Being
“If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, “Interbeing”
I was in college when I first read these words from the Buddhist writer and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. The concept he was explaining, through the metaphor of clouds woven into paper, illustrated the way human beings create ourselves through relationship: everything I recognize as part of my identity came from somewhere. Genetic material, habits and tendencies, sudden breakthroughs in understanding, visions of what could be possible–these things come to us through our relationship with others, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with the world. When I read those words at that age, I remember feeling like I was made up of the love, the strengths, the weaknesses, the rough edges, and the generosity of the people who had walked me through my life.
And it became clear: love is a force that grows all the time, through our actions and relationships with others. It can be treated as a living thing. One that requires some attention.
This is where practices like yoga and meditation come into the picture. The sustained attention you give yourself when moving through a sun salutation can start to seem routine when you do it often enough; that’s as it should be. The very fact of it become routine demonstrates that you have made a priority of taking care of yourself. That’s a pretty big thing, first of all.
But then there is more. Track that spark of love throughout your day. The attention and care that comes into your awareness during your practice doesn’t disappear! It reappears countless times; in your patience with a grumpy family member, in your sincere interest in your co-worker’s perspective in a shared project, in a demonstration of respect for the person who poured your coffee. The cloud is in the paper. The love looks like a million different things. The relationships we create ourselves through are the growth trajectory of that love.
All of us at Grassroots are grateful to have a yoga practice that is bound up in the love of the people we share it with. Thank you for being a part of that. Thank you for growing with us. Wishing you a very happy and healthy February!
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H./Grassroots Yoga