You are me and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we inter-are?
You cultivate the flower in yourself
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself
so that you do not have to suffer.
I support you; you support me.
I am here to bring you peace;
you are here to bring me joy.
– Inter-relationship by Thich Nhat Hanh
In this poem, World-renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced: tic not hahn) in his first line, “You are me and I am you,” means we exist within each other.
In science, our sounds, scents, and sights intermix. Our measurable energy fields extend yards beyond us. We are drops of dye spreading in water, mixing with each other. Physicists also now look for the ultimate “God” particle. They say our whole universe may exist in each discreet particle, or even that just one particle repeats and reflects trillions of times. This may be how cultivating a “flower in yourself” can help me “be beautiful.”
In the simpler language of mystery, Thich Nhat Hanh says we all come from the same awareness. We are a spark of God, making us truly “inter-are,” each individual self-melting and blending into others and back again. Our thoughts and feelings intertwine—an exchange of holiday streamers.
He adds, “I transform the garbage in myself / so that you do not have to suffer.” This motivates me to shed the junk to which I cling so it is not the trash you must pick up.
Lord, help us learn to be “inter-are.” As we share each dance with another in the rounds of life, teach us compassion and empathy so that we may view ourselves through their eyes and ears. Help us take up each other’s joys and sufferings as our own, and cleanse our own hot messes for the sake of those near us. Help us, oh Lord, to interconnect with each other in peace and joy.