Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will practice together the "Living in the Present" Touching of the Earth. This Touching is a wonderful reminder that the heart of our practice is being awake and aware in the present moment.
There are many wonderful aspects of the practice to explore,
many books to read and talks to listen to. However, if we don't develop
our capacity to embrace the present moment, it is like taking a shower
with a raincoat on: the words and gestures cannot really touch us,
cannot really cleanse us.
For most of us, this is a lesson we learn not just once, but
many, many, times. It is like learning to trust a friend. We share
a vulnerability, and if we feel we are deeply heard, the strength of
the relationship grows. Each time we open to the present moment and
feel nourished and supported by it, our trust grows. Then little effort
is needed - we are naturally drawn to the present moment just like we
are drawn to spending time with a good friend.
You are invited to join us this Thursday for our meditation period and the Touching of the Earth practice. We will begin our discussion with the questions: What new ways to touch the present moment have I learned? How have they changed me?
I hope you can join us. A copy of the "Living in the Present" Touching of the Earth is below.
Living in the Present by Thich Nhat Hanh
Dear Buddha, I touch the Earth to be deeply in touch with you and with the Pure Land of the present moment.
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 chrysanthemums.
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)