Shin Mei Spiritual Centre

Clouds in Each Paper

The “Web of Interbeing” is the concept that all phenomena are interdependent. 

I particularly like the explanation by Thich Nhat Hanh in the simile called Clouds in Each Paper: “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. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are.” 

In my Forest Bathing Guide class, we were assigned the task of illustrating the Web of Interbeing. The connectivity between various phenomena in creation/existence. I sat down with my paper and my colored pencils and soon felt overwhelmed. I could see that both complex beings and simple beings were connected not only to each other, but also to the oceans, and the depths, and the skies. My imagination went wild, and my intellectual self quickly understood a myriad of connectivities, of “interbeings.” 

Thich Nhat Hanh’s simile brings simplicity and complexity, all at the same time. And now, when I see a sheet of paper I cannot but help image the rain, and the trees, and all the support beings for the trees—all present in the single paper before me.

What do you see in the sheet of paper?