Supported by the Energy of Bodhisattvas

Supported by the Energy of Bodhisattvas

Discussion date: Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This week I was asked by a friend, “How can one develop a daily practice? How does one meditate regularly, or do yoga, or eat well: all those things I know that are good for me, but that I don’t do?” In response I talked about making our practice enjoyable and deeply believing it is for our benefit and the benefit of others. If our practice is not pleasant, we will begin finding ways to not do it. If we doubt that it is beneficial, it is more likely that our will or spirit will split into the rebel and the nag and that we will create an enervating inner conflict.

The conversation stayed with me, and the next morning I realized I had left out something important: community. I emailed my friend that it is very difficult to establish a practice on one’s own. It is a great help to have the support of a community. The energy of the community supports us both when we practice with others, and when we practice on our own.

In the Plum Village tradition of mindfulness practice, our community is not just those we interact with daily, weekly, or monthly, it is also those who have come before. Their energy braces us and we can be the vehicle through which their energy manifests again in the world.

This Thursday evening, after our meditation, we will Touch the Earth as we invoke the names and qualities of the four great Bodhisattvas in the Mahayana tradition: Avalokiteshvara (representing loving-kindness), Manjushri (wisdom), Samantabhadra (great action), and Kshitigarbha (perseverance and determination).

The Bodhisattvas personify energies that exist in each of us as seeds, as potentiality. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., continues to inspire millions through his clarity and commitment, the Bodhisattvas can nourish us and remind us of how we can be in the world. We have the capacity to bring their energies into the world, each of us in our own way.

We will begin our discussion sharing the ways we have been nourished and supported by the Mahayana Bodhisattvas and by the Bodhisattvas we have personally known.

You are invited to be with us.

The text for the Invoking the Bodhisattvas’ Names practice is available on our web site. In the excerpt below, Thich Nhat Hanh suggests how we can most benefit from our Touchings of the Earth practice.

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


Touching the Energy of the Bodhisattvas
from a Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on December 21, 1997

We should not prostrate mechanically. After we have prostrated we should be something different than before we prostrated. We should breathe in and out three times when we touch the earth in order to look deeply, be in touch and receive the energy of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, because this is a very effective method of transformation. The secret of prostrating is that when our head, arms and legs are touching the earth we let go. We let go of our idea of ourself, we let go of everything which we call my idea of myself, my person, or my worth. Sometimes we think that we are alone and lonely, but when we are touching the earth with five limbs we have to open ourself up, open all the doors of our body and our mind, and the idea about self has to be dissolved. And then prostrating is successful, and the energy of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and ancestral teachers can enter us. That does not mean that the energy of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and ancestral teachers is outside, that we have to open the door to let them in. In fact that energy is present within us. But if we don’t allow it, it will not manifest.



Discussion Date: Thu, Jan 27, 2011