Dear Still Water Friends,
Life without Boundaries
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Dear Still Water friends,
This week, we’ll practice the Three Touchings of the Earth. The Three Touchings bring to mind one of my favorite calligraphies from Thich Nhat Hanh that used to be in Richard Brady and Elisabeth Dearborn’s home on Jackson Avenue in Takoma Park: “You are Life without Boundaries.” Like the Three Touchings, it conveys the practice on a level beyond the words that make them up and any analytical meaning we can parse out of them.
While we certainly exist in body and mind as individuals, the Touchings help us see how incomplete and limiting this understanding of ourselves is. Like blowing on a wispy dandelion seed pod, touching deeply who we really are releases the concept of “the self” into its many composite parts and shows us that this unitary image we hold of ourselves is made of innumerable pieces of life that come together in each moment to make “us.” Yes, we are real physical beings, but “being” isn’t a separate, static object—it’s an ongoing process. The Touchings remind us that we are mistaken when we try to take this process and objectify it into a separate, permanent thing instead of appreciating its fullness as an interconnected, continuing action.
The Touchings also take our sense of a discrete lifetime, something that so often ticks away in our mind’s internal clock, and removes the chopping motion of the second hand that segments time. It reminds us that we are part of the sweep of life that is always moving.
The Three Touchings often help me be present when I’m struggling to be mindful and feeling separate and alone. They can help hit the reset button and give us a chance to experience “life without boundaries.”
I hope you can join us this Thursday.
From “Touching the Earth,” by Thich Nhat Hanh:
When we touch the Earth, we take refuge in it. We receive its solid and inclusive energy. The Earth embraces us and helps us transform our ignorance, suffering, and despair. Wherever we are, we can be in touch with the Earth. Wherever we are, we can bow down to receive its energy of stability and fearlessness. As we touch the Earth, we can follow our breathing. We release all our instability, fear, anxiety, disease and anger. We know the Earth can absorb our negativity without reacting to us or judging us. In this way, we are able to transform what is painful and difficult to accept within us. We are able to strengthen our capacity to look, speak, and act with understanding and compassion towards ourselves, our loved ones, and all members of our society. Touching the Earth communicates our gratitude, joy, and acceptance….