A Newsletter of Earth Holding Actions in the Plum Village Tradition.

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Summer 2014 Issue 1

In this Issue:
  • Earth Practice: A Guided Meditation
  • Dharma Sharing: Embodying Sustainability
  • Sangha Action: The Ground in which We Stand

Editorial Team:
Nomi Green
Brother Phap Ho
Joy Lam
Heather Lyn Mann

Contact Us:
Deer Park Monastery
2499 Melru Lane,
Escondido, CA 92026
Tel: (760)291-1003
Send us an email

Also Visit:
Earth Holding Here & Now
One Earth Sangha
Deer Park Monastery


Some inspiring guide posts on our adventure with the Earth Holding Initiative are:

  • to practice and act out of love, not fear

  • to have togetherness and inclusiveness at the base, not separation and discrimination

  • to be diligent and aimless in our efforts to support a collective awakening and healing


Touching the Earth

A Newsletter of Earth Holding Actions in the Plum Village Tradition 

Dear Mother Earth, Father Sun,
Dear Thay, Dear Sangha,

“What a great fortune to have been born a human, to encounter the Dharma,
to be in harmony with others, and to water the Mind of Love in this beautiful garden of practice.” (Nourishing Happiness, Chanting from the Heart).

Walking down the mountain this morning the mist was still refreshing the valley of Deer Park. I allowed myself to be a manifestation of the Cosmos, an interbeing springing up from the Earth. It helped me feel very relaxed, present and connected with everything around me. In the back of my mind I heard the whispers of Manas (the sense of self) trying to find something to lure me back into separation. In every moment we can bring our awareness to what is going on inside and around, in order to choose the path of interbeing.

This newsletter you are receiving is a continuation of the Buddha and our teacher Thay's teaching and engagement. This spring a flower on the Earth Holding Tree blossomed as 25 participants came to our Theme Weekend on Earth Protection here at Deer Park Monastery. There was a clear intention to continue and this newsletter is one of the fruits. Our clear and aimless intention with this quarterly newsletter has three areas of content for increased stability in rocky times.

We want to offer concrete and applicable mindfulness practices for Earth Holders, so that we can continue to nourish ourselves through connecting with the Earth.

  1. We want to offer an opportunity for practitioners and Earth Holders in our Plum Village International Community to share about their practice and insights in order for us to develop our Sangha insight and skillful means.
  2. We want to offer local Sanghas and groups of friends to share their experience in coming together and engage as Earth Holders in their communities and the world.

Sisters Heather, Nomi and Joy are helping to put the newsletter together. We aspire for it to be the voice of our extended Earth Holder Sangha, so please offer your input and insights. To contact the newsletter team you can e-mail: newsletter@earthholdinghereandnow.org

Brother Phap Ho

Born and raised in Sweden, Brother Phap Ho grew up in a family that conserved water and electricity. Reusing and recycling was already built into Swedish society.
Ordained as a novice in Plum Village in 2003 and have lived in Deer Park Monastery, CA since 2006.
Earth Practice: A Guided Meditation
While sitting beneath the Poplar Trees of Lower Hamlet during the 21 day retreat this past June a meditation came to me on interbeing with all life. Please enjoy! Happy raindrops to you from the mountains of New Mexico!

Nomi Green

Breathing In, I know I am Breathing In
Breathing Out, I know I am Breathing Out

Breathing In, I am aware of sitting on our precious planet
Breathing Out, I am being held by Earth, the Life Giver
Sitting on Precious Planet/ Held by Life Giver Earth

BI, I am aware of the sun shining, bringing warmth and life with her light. photosynthesis creating all life
BO, I feel the sun in every cell of my body
Sun Shining/ Sun in every cell of my body

BI, I am aware of the trees breathing out oxygen.  Oxygen the magical life force of my in breath
BO, I am aware that I breathe out CO2 which is the in breath of the trees
Inhale from the trees/ exhale for the trees

BI, I am aware of that our planet is more than 50% water.  Water from oceans, rivers, lakes, glaciers and clouds
BO, I am aware that my body is more than 50% water
planet made of water/ me made of water

BI, I know that the food I consume is a gift of the earth, food nourishes every cell of my body
BO, I am made of earth
earth nourishes every cell of my body/ me made of earth

Nomi Green (True Source of Virtue) lives in Santa Fe, NM and practices with the Desert Rain Sangha. She enjoy wandering in beautiful places on our precious planet, Mother earth, the jewel of the cosmos.
Dharma Sharing: Embodying Sustainability

Embodying Sustainability and Interbeing

Tim Ambrose Desmond

When I was a college student, I spent a semester in India studying the life and thought of Mahatma Gandhi, the great spiritual activist. During that time, I lived at Sevagram, a community that he had founded and where he lived for the last 12 years of his life. It was my first time being in a place that so deeply embodied sustainability and Interbeing. All of the food we ate, including every grain of rice and every cumin seed, was grown on the land. All of the clothes we wore came from cotton that was grown on the land and spun into thread by the community. Any waste was composted or burned and given right back to the soil. 

What impacted me the most from this experience wasn't the level of ecological responsibility or the small carbon footprint. It was that living in this way was such a powerful and clear teaching about Interbeing. The earth was the source of everything -- not just in the abstract, but the earth under my feet. The earth rose up into plants that collected the energy of the sun. In eating those plants, they passed through me, the sun's energy becoming my energy, and then were returned to the same soil to begin again. I can't emphasize enough how the experience of living in a closed loop like this makes you truly feel how Mother Earth is our body. 

Climate scientists tell us that this is a important moment in history for life on our planet, and we truly need a new way of relating to the Earth.

Three years ago my wife, Annie, and I moved to New Hampshire to help Fern Dorresteyn and Michael Ciborski manifest the collective vision of Morning Sun Mindfulness Center on 240 beautiful acres of forests and ponds. As Michael likes to point out, human beings already have all of technological solutions we need for our species to be sustainable. What is missing is the awareness. If we could all see the complete non-separation between ourselves and the Earth, we would not act so carelessly.

We hope that Morning Sun will be able to immerse people in the energy of mindfulness as well as the kind of deep ecological harmony I experienced in India in order to create lasting transformation in how they relate to the Earth. We have dedicated our lives to realizing this vision. I invite you all to join us in your own ways of supporting the development of this consciousness in ourselves and all beings. 

Tim Ambrose Desmond is a psychotherapist and co-founder of Morning Sun Mindfulness Center in Alstead, NH. He teaches mindfulness, Permaculture, and natural building, and was an organizer of the WTO and Occupy Wall Street protests. He joined the Order of Interbeing in 2005
Sangha Action: The Ground on Which We Stand

Earth Holding Action: The Ground on which We Stand

Heather Lyn Mann

How can our spiritual community provide leadership on the issue of climate change?  Members of SnowFlower Sangha (Thich Nhat Hanh’s Mindfulness Community in Madison, Wisconsin) asked this question in the early months of 2012. It quickly led to other queries, like: should leadership focus upon earth-healing actions in us, our local Sangha, our region, or our global community? How specifically would we inspire others to safeguard the planet? Confronted by inevitable challenges, how might we sustain loving kindness and compassion as an extension of our practice? What follows is the story of how environmentally engaged Buddhism manifested in my Midwestern Sangha.  



Madison is a city of activists; it is said there are more non-profit organizations per capita here than any other place in the world. SnowFlower is a twenty-year-old Sangha with several dozen members, many of whom are deeply steeped in advocacy. And yet, when we began pondering a collective effort around environmentally engaged Buddhism, six members from the whole stepped forward to meet regularly and figure out what climate change “leadership” flowering in the container of Mindfulness practice looks like.

We talked about similarities and differences between traditional environmental advocacy and engaged Buddhism. Anger, fear, stress, and overload were traps we knew well and aspired to avoid. Through Dharma sharing, we spoke about the interbeing of healthy minds and a healthy planet, true happiness as remedy to climate change, and specific ways to express loving kindness toward our earth-body and also the people who undermine earth protection efforts.

Eventually, we came to call ourselves the Earth Holders’ Project of SnowFlower Sangha because—in The World We Have— Thay writes about Dharanimdhara (or “Earth Holder”) as the Lotus Sutra’s Bodhisattva who preserves and protects nature. As Earth Holding Bodhisattvas, we organized a tree planting day so members of our local Sangha could help two-hundred native oaks take root. We also led a Half-day of Mindfulness—complete with nature-based, guided sitting and walking meditations—at a wilderness nearby.



Months progressed and we learned more about each other’s’ talents and interests. Some were drawn to explore people’s connection with the local ecology, how individuals change old habits, and the elements of radical simplicity. So our Earth Holders’ Project formed a Simplicity Circle—friendly, twice-monthly conversations to exchange support and advice about simple living while exploring topics, like: “Financial and Ecological Sustainability—the two-sided coin of monetary decisions and their environmental outcomes.”

Others in our group felt moved when Wisconsin legislators gutted long-standing environmental protections and set plans in motion to locate the world’s largest mountain-top metallic sulfide mine in a place that not only threatened the rivers and wetlands of Lake Superior but the health and way of life of Chippewa Indians. Simultaneous to this, big oil companies discovered Wisconsin’s sand was the ideal substance to prop open fractures in shale deposits to extract natural gas and oil. Open-pit quartz sand mining expanded in a flash; across the state, frac-sand mining destabilized and polluted rural towns. The Earth Holders’ Project—with Mindfulness Trainings in hand—drafted a three-page ethical statement on mountain top and open-pit mining, vetted the document for accuracy with environmental allies, and joined with Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice (a statewide coalition of progressive people of faith) to reframe mining policy not simply around science and economics but ethics, too.  


To say our committee’s progress is slow and steady is only half true; progress is just slow. We meet the same societal indifference, resistance to change, and personal self-doubt that confounds traditional eco-activists. Attendance at our lovely Simplicity Circle is thin, and most inter-faith coalitions in Wisconsin are too busy to partner on the mining statement. And yet, we continue to walk this path because we are Bodhisattva Earth Holders; our spiritual practices revolve around caring for ourselves as we nourish the planet. Each day we mindfully let go of hoped-for outcomes and continue with right effort to do right work. Earth holding actions represent our most creative expression of our deepest aspiration. The Earth Holders of SnowFlower Sangha are friends along the path who create beauty, spread love, and disseminate hope. Our healing actions, which support all beings and future generations, are the ground on which we stand.

Heather Lyn Mann (True Lotus Peace) founded the non-profit Center for Resilient Cities (ResilientCities.org) and served as its director for a dozen years. Having recently returned from six-years sailing the Western Atlantic and Caribbean, she is writing a memoir entitled Ocean of Insight: A Sailor’s Voyage Deep into the Climate Crisis. In addition, Heather newly launched the Community of Mindful Advocacy (MindfulAdvocacy.org) and blogs about insight environmentalism at Http://www.HeatherLynMann.com .

Copyright © 2014 Earth Holding Initiative in Plum Village Tradition, All rights reserved.

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