Interbeing and the Toothbrush

Paris, 1899, Demonstration of Toothbrush

We live in a world of plurality and connectedness.  We are never alone.  Certainly, I value privacy and my natural bent is to live a reclusive life. It is possible to try to live in isolation, but even when we attempt to insulate ourselves from the rest of the world, we are still dependent upon others in many ways.

For instance, when you brush your teeth, consider who made the toothbrush, and who taught you to use it, and where you bought yours.  There is a long line of people, and natural products, behind this time of self-care.  Such awareness can and ought to create gratitude for the mystery of life and also an understanding of how connected we are to one another.

Toothbrushes actually hark back to ancient Greek and Roman culture more than three thousand years before the birth of Jesus. People must not have liked dirty mouths because they used “chewing sticks” to help clean theirs.

Eventually what started more like tooth picks became pencil-sized sticks which, when chewed upon, became brush-like on the ends. People were smart enough to pick their twigs from aromatic trees. Do you prefer peppermint?


So, just think every time you brush your teeth, you are connected to humanity way back in time and all across the globe, and you are dependent on the interbeing and sharing of people with one another.

The Dalai Lama says in his book Beyond Religion “Discernment is crucial if we are to have a realistic understanding of the world we live in. Here the key principle we need to grasp is that of interdependence…” (p.77)

Take time to contemplate and become aware of your moments.  Be present to brushing your teeth–it is a moment of immersion with many people across many centuries in many cultures.

Stay healthy. Be grateful.