Touching the Earth: Living in the Present
Dear Buddha, I touch the Earth to be deeply in touch with you and with the Pure Land of the present moment.
Dear Buddha, I recognize my deep habit energy of forgetfulness. I often allow
my mind to think about the past, so that I drown in sorrow and regret. This has
caused me to lose so many opportunities to be in touch with the wonderful things
of life present only in this moment. I know there are many of us whose past has
become our prison. Our time is spent complaining or regretting what we have
lost. This robs us of the opportunity to be in touch with the refreshing,
beautiful, and wonderful things that could nourish and transform us in the
present moment. We are not able to be in touch with the blue sky, the white
clouds, the green willow, the yellow flowers, the sound of the wind in the pine
trees, the sound of the running brook, the sound of the singing birds, and the
sound of the laughing children in the early morning sunlight. We are also not
able to be in touch with the wonderful things in our own selves.
We are unable to see that our two eyes are two precious jewels. When we open
our eyes we can be in touch with the world of ten thousand different colors and
forms. We do not recognize that our two ears are two wonderful sense organs. If
we were to listen attentively with these two ears, we would hear the soft
rustling of the wind in the branches of the pine, the twittering of the golden
oriole or the sound of the rising tide as it plays its compelling music on the
seashore in the early morning. Our hearts, lungs, brains, as well as our
capacity to feel, to think and observe are also wonders of life. The glass of
clear water or golden orange juice in our hands is also a wonder of life. In
spite of this I am often unable to be in touch with the way life is manifesting
in the present moment, because I do not practice mindful breathing and mindful
walking to return to the present moment.
Dear Buddha, please be my witness. I promise I shall practice to realize the
teachings you have given us. I know that the Pure Land is not an illusory
promise for the future. The Pure Land is available to me now, wonderful in all
aspects. The path of red earth with its border of green grass is the Pure Land.
The small golden and violet flowers are also the Pure Land. The babbling brook
with small, shiny rocks lying in its bed is also the Pure Land. Our Pure Land is
not only the fragrant lotuses and bunches of chrysanthemums, but is also the mud
which nourishes the roots of the lotus and the manure which nourishes the
The Pure Land has the outer appearance of birth and death, but looking deeply
I see that birth and death are interdependent. One is not possible without the
other. If I look even more deeply, I will see that there is no birth and no
death; there is only manifestation. I do not have to wait for this body to
disintegrate in order to step into the Pure Land of the Buddha. By the way I
look, walk, and breathe I can produce the energies of mindfulness and
concentration, allowing me to enter the Pure Land and to experience all the
miracles of life found right in the here and now.
Adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh, Touching the Earth: Intimate Conversations with the Buddha (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2004).