Children’s Exercise on Interbeing By Terry Masters
This activity can take one or two days, depending on the ages and interests of the children and how much time you have. Note: What you might say is in boldface. The answers to questions in parenthesis are the answers our children gave us.
Materials Peanut butter Dried Oatmeal Honey Sunflower seeds Any or all of these: cinnamon, raisins, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried date pieces, chopped almonds Big bowl Cookie sheets and/or trays Napkin for each person being served Refrigerator (optional)
Wash Your Hands
Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has taught us two little poems to say when we wash our hands.
If children can read, one might read the gatha as the other turns on the water and washes her hands. If children cannot read, the guide can read the gatha while the children wash their hands.
Turning on the Water Water flows from high in the mountains. Water runs deep in the Earth. Miraculously, water comes to us, And sustains all life. Washing your Hands Water flows over these hands. May I use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.
Prepare the Peanut Butter Balls
Combine all ingredients—the amounts are determined by the number of balls you want to make, how much of the various ingredients you have and how much you like each of the ingredients. Add the dry oatmeal to thicken, the honey to make it thinner.
Taste to see if they’re delicious. Add more ingredients if you like.
When the dough is just right, pinch off a piece and roll it between your hands until it forms a ball about one half inch in diameter. (Wet hands to keep the dough from sticking.) Children might like to invent a gatha for doing this!
Place Each Ball on a Cookie Sheet
When all of the dough has been formed into balls, put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to chill until served. The snacks can sit for a week in the refrigerator if covered.
Can you see a cloud in our peanut butter balls? Can you see a big truck? If you look deeply, you can see them both…. and everything else as well! Let me help you look. What is peanut butter made of?
Where do peanuts come from?
What do peanut plants need to grow?
(air, water, soil, light)
Where does the peanut plant get the water it needs to grow?
Where does rain come from?
Aha! So that means there are clouds in our peanut butter balls, right? We could not have peanut butter balls if we did not have clouds, could we? I can also see a big truck in our peanut butter balls. Do you see it, now, too?
Can you explain how it got there?
(Accept all responses that show interbeing, e.g., “Trucks have to bring the nuts from the farm to the grocery store”.)
What else do you see in our peanut butter balls?
(This should be a very lively discussion! There is, of course, nothing that is not in the peanut butter balls, so all answers are “right”! Our children said, “I see Brazil because the cocoa that our chocolate chips are made from comes from there.” “I see the sunshine because sunflowers need sun.” Continue the discussion until someone realizes that everything is in everything; that the all is in the one.)
We saw a cloud and a big truck and a lot of other things in our peanut butter balls. Can we see ourselves in our peanut butter balls?
(Invite children to explain. “I’m in the peanut butter balls because I made them.” “I’m in the peanut butter balls because I’m in the sun and the sun is in them!”)
Can we also see the cloud and big truck in ourselves? Why? (“Yes, because they are in the peanut butter balls, and I am in the peanut butter balls; we are all in each other!” “I looked up at a cloud, so it is in me.” “I saw a truck once!”)
Why is it important to know that everything is a part of everything else? Why do we need to be able to see the cloud and big truck and all those other things, including ourselves, in our peanut butter balls and in ourselves?
(“So that we will remember to take care of all things.” “So we don’t feel lonely.”)
NOTE: You may want to complete this activity the next time you meet with the children. If so, cover and store the peanut butter balls in the refrigerator until you meet again. (They’ll be less sticky when they’re chilled.) You might want to review the previous discussion, using different examples, as a way of introducing the second day’s activity.
After the discussion, the children might like to practice serving each other before offering the snacks to the adult Sangha. They will need to know how and why to bow. A suggested way of serving follows.
Serve the Peanut Butter Balls
To serve the snacks, either place the peanut butter balls on pretty trays, or use the cookie sheets. Here is how we served our adult Sangha: Our grown-up friends are sitting in a big circle. There are places for us to sit, too. We enter the circle with our trays of peanut butter balls. We each go to a grown-up and kneel, placing our tray on the floor before him. We smile, put our hands together in the form of a flower and bow to the grown-up. The grown-up returns our bow, then chooses a snack and puts it on his napkin. We smile and bow to each other again. Then we stand and go to another grown-up until all the grown-ups have been served. We put a snack in front of the places where we kids will sit, too. Then we join the grown-ups sitting in the circle. The bell master invites the bell and we all enjoy our snacks together.