Artwork and Poetry

Taking in bottles of milk during the lockdown I was thinking how inter-related the elements of our

lives are, how much we depend on simple transactions and things for our lives to be possible, for the

milk even to be there on the doorstep. I remembered reading a passage by the Vietnamese Zen

Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh which I’ve translated from the original French here - it may be

translated better into English in a book called ‘Peace is Every Step’ but I don’t have the book.

Ros Place

 

INTEREXISTENCE

 

If you are a poet you will see clearly that a cloud is floating in this sheet of paper. If there were no

clouds there would be no rain – no rain, no trees; and without trees we cannot make paper. So the

cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud isn’t here the sheet of paper can’t be either. We

can say then, that the cloud and the paper inter-exist. ‘Inter-existence’ is a word that is not yet in the

dictionary, but if we combine the prefix ‘inter-’ with the verb ‘ to exist’ we gain a new verb, ‘to inter-

exist’.

 

If we look more deeply into this sheet of paper we can see sunlight there. Without sunlight forest

cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow without sun. Consequently we understand that sunlight is also

in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunlight inter-exist. And if we keep looking, we can see the

lumberjack who cut the tree down and took it to the mill to transform it into paper. And we sense

wheat. We know the lumberjack cannot exist without his daily bread and consequently the wheat

that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. The lumberjack’s father and mother are in there

too. If we pursue this approach we can see that without all of these elements this sheet of paper

cannot exist.

Taking our thinking further we can also see ourselves in this sheet of paper. This is not difficult to

understand as when we look at a piece of paper vision is only part of it. Your thought is in it and so is

mine. So we can say that everything is contained here within this sheet of paper. We cannot find

anything at all that is not in this piece of paper – time, space, the earth, rain, minerals from the ground,

sunlight, cloud, the river, heat. Each element co-exists in this sheet of paper. That’s why I think the

word ‘inter-exist’ should be in the dictionary. ‘Being’ becomes ‘inter-existence’. We cannot simply be

on our own. We inter-exist with everything. It’s because the other things exist that this sheet of paper

exists.

Without the elements separate from the paper such as our mind, the lumberjack, sunlight etc there

would be no paper. Even though it is so thin, this sheet of paper contains in itself all the elements of the universe.

Coronavirus SpringDermott Killingley
00:00 / 01:04

Coronavirus Spring 

 

Spring has returned, in all its fragile newness. Here the magnolia,  and there the prunus—                                                                                                                Like any other spring,                                                                           Yet more entrancing  

Now that so many sense their need for air,  And find that all their fellow-beings share                                                                                                                        The same desire to cling                                                                                                To life, not chancing  

Contact with that spiky floating mine. Now is the time to walk in the sunshine,                                                                                                                                  Hearing the blackbird sing                                                                                            Above, and glancing  

Upwards at the now untravelled sky, Newly reclaimed by bird and butterfly.                                                                                                                                          But, on encountering                                                                                                      Someone advancing  

  

Towards me, I step aside into the road— Unless they do so first—give them a nod,                                                                                                                            A smile, or some such thing,                                                                                          Thereby enhancing,  

Not severing, the bond uniting stranger, Neighbour and friend against the hidden danger:                                                                                                          Not social distancing                                                                                                      But social dancing.  

    
 Dermot Killingley 27th April 202

© 2015 All Saints' Gosforth.

Registered Charity No: 1131094

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