May our actions be fragrant as Earth herself

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calligraphy by Thay, Thich Nhat Hanh

This afternoon I found a withering rose. I took a couple of the petals, held them in my hand, smelled their fragrance and the line from this mornings incense offering came to me: “may it be fragrant as Earth herself”. The rose petals were clearly offering the Earth’s fragrance as did the sandalwood incense this morning in the Great Togetherness Meditation Hall here at Blue Cliff Monastery. In fact they cannot be separated from Earth herself, they are the Earth, wondrous manifestations of the Earth, as are you and all other beings. Earth is not only our home, but it is us. The theme of the retreat was: The Art of Suffering. Thay reminded us that when we know how to suffer we suffer much less and furthermore we can use our suffering to develop our compassion our freedom. Many of our individual and collective habitual ways of living is causing much suffering and devastation on Earth. 

One way to help alleviate the suffering in the world is to engage in conversations with people in our life, friends and colleagues about what is truly important and nourishing for us and what are the things that we know brings suffering into our lives, including the Earth and many species. Sharing from our love and care, not complaining or pointing fingers, listening deeply, we will learn from each other and find ways to make changes in our lives that help us arrive as happy and loving children of the Earth.

One of the mornings during the retreat we practiced a guided meditation and touching the Earth with the theme of Mother Earth. Here are some lines from the love letter to Mother Earth that was read before we touched the Earth:

Dear Mother Earth, You are this infinitely beautiful blue planet, fragrant, cool and kind. Your immeasurable patience and endurance makes you a great bodhisattva. Even though we’ve made many mistakes  you always forgive us. Every time we return to you, you are ready to open your arms and embrace us.

Whenever I am unstable, every time I lose touch with myself, or am lost in forgetfulness, sadness, hatred, or despair, I know I can come back to you. Touching you, I can find a refuge; I can reestablish my peace and regain my joy and self-confidence. You love, protect, and nurture all of us without discrimination.

This love letter and other wonderful Earth Protection practices can be found in: Love Letter to the Earth. To receive inspiring teaching is one thing, to put them into practice, to let our actions and our life be infused by them is another. Are you ready to live fully?

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