Dear Still Water Friends,
During a retreat in 2005 the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) spoke about the importance of the practice of Touching the Earth:
My dear friends, this practice is the practice of emptying ourselves in order to make life possible. We have in us ideas, notions. We have attachments. We have anger, we have discrimination. We have all these things in us. And when we bow down and touch the earth we empty ourselves of all these notions, these attachments, these hatreds.
We attach to notions: notions of life and death, notions of being and nonbeing, notions of coming and going, notions of one and many. And it is in the act of bowing down that we give up all notions. The wave is practicing touching the water and becoming water. In fact, the wave has always been water, but it has not touched the water deeply in order to live the life of the water. … As a wave I trust in water, I will accept any form that the water gives to me. … The wave knows that the water has brought it into being several times, and it will continue to bring the wave into being, always and always.
So now when we bow deeply to the earth and touch the earth with our forehead, two hands, and two feet. We surrender to earth. We surrender to our true nature. We will accept any form of life that our true nature will offer to us. We surrender our pride, our hope, our ideas, our notions. We surrender everything. We have to empty ourselves completely.
To empty oneself is the best way to get replenished. If you do not breathe out and empty your lungs, there is no way to breath in, there is no way for the fresh air to come in. … To empty oneself is a very important practice.
This Thursday, our last Thursday evening of 2017, we will practice Touching the Earth together, emptying and opening to new possibilities for 2018. Listening to a recording from the 2005 retreat, we will hear Thay prepare us for Touching the Earth, and then we will practice the Six Touchings, each with a brief elaboration offered by Thay:
- In gratitude I bow to my ancestors in my blood family, to all generations.
- In gratitude I bow to my ancestors in my spiritual family.
- In gratitude I bow to this land and ancestors who have made this land available to me and to us.
- In gratitude and compassion I bow down to transmit my energy to those I love.
- In understanding and compassion I bow down to reconcile with the people who have made me suffer.
- In gratitude and compassion, I bow down to my ancient spiritual roots.
To give ourselves time for the preparatory talk and the touchings, we will shorten our meditation period to twenty minutes of sitting and ten minutes of walking. Our Dharma sharing will explore our response to the Touchings, especially how it may have allowed us to be fresh again as we prepare for the new year.
You are invited to join us.
You are also invited to join us for our New Year’s Day Brunch, on January 1st and for the other Still Water events listed on our website.
Many variations of Plum Village’s Touchings of the Earth are available online. The ones we usually use at Still Water are available on our website under Resources and Links, then Ceremonies. The 2005 talk and Touchings of the Earth exist as a Sounds True recording and is available as a CD and digitally from Amazon and ITunes (under the title Touching the Earth: Meditations for Compassion.)
Many blessings for the New Year. May 20018 bring you much ease, love, and joy.