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

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Summer 2016 Issue 7

In this Issue:

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

Contact Us:
Deer Park Monastery
2499 Melru Lane,
Escondido, CA 92026
Tel: (760) 291-1003
Share your story!

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

Touching the Earth Newsletter Needs You!

Be a part of our editorial team!

We need volunteers to help plan issues, solicit stories, assemble and edit text, and produce Touching the Earth Newsletter. If you love Earth, if you have relevant writing experience or a desire to learn, if you can donate two- to four-hours each month, please send a short note describing your interest and skills to earthholding@dpmail.net
Touching The Earth Newsletter
Dear Friends,

In the Plum Village Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, mindfulness practitioners are coming together to help one another understand and deepen our relationship with Mother Earth and live happy lives of harmony and awareness.

In this issue, Thay—our beloved teacher—offers a meditation to help us find nourishment in our direct experience of Earth as the Mother of All Beings. Educator and Earth Holder Dario Sánchez talks about his experience at the first-ever Earth Holder Retreat held this past April at Deer Park Monastery. Finally, after Thay told Earth Holder and Reverend Jayna Gieber to transform her relationship to climate change, Jayna shares with us the practical steps she took to manifest Thay’s teaching—steps that can inspire individual and sangha action in each of us.

We believe this issue of Touching the Earth Newsletter reflects the flowering of the community’s collective consciousness and we are very happy to offer it in the heat of the summer season at a time when Earth’s fruits are ripening here in North America.
With love and gratitude,
Your Touching the Earth Editorial Team

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

Share Your Story!
Readers of Touching the Earth would like to learn about how you and your sangha manifest earth holding and protecting. We welcome story submissions of 500-800 words and we especially welcome submissions from young people and from people of diverse backgrounds. Please send your writing—along with a photo illustrating your story and a two- to three-sentence biography—to earthholding@dpmail.net Thank you. 

Earth Practice: Touching the Earth

Touching the Earth

Thich Nhat Hanh

The following meditation was written by our beloved teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. It was first published in Love Letters to the Earth (Parallax Press, 2013. Today you can also find it and nine other Touching the Earth Practices at http://plumvillage.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Touching-the-Earth-to-Mother-Earth-10-texts.pdf.

We invite you to read the text silently letting the words slowly penetrate your consciousness. There, they will bring about insight, deep healing, and transformation. Alternatively, you can use this meditation in the company of a sangha as a Touching the Earth Practice.
To begin Touching the Earth, the sangha stands with eyes closed and with attention on the sensation of the breath. The bell master invites three sounds of the bell and the practice facilitator reads the text aloud, slowly and clearly. When the text is complete, the bell master invites the bell and the community makes a full body prostration to show gratitude to Mother Earth. The community enjoys three in and out breaths before the bell master invites the bell for everyone to stand.


Dear Mother Earth,

I BOW MY HEAD before you as I look deeply and recognize that you are present in me and that I am a part of you. It is from you that I have been born, and you who are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. It is your fresh air that we breathe, your clear water that we drink, your nourishing food that we eat, and your medicinal herbs that heal us when we are sick.

You have all the qualities of a mother. You are nothing less than the Mother of all Beings. I call you by the human name Mother, and yet I know your mothering nature is more vast and ancient than humankind. We are just one young species of your many children. All the millions of other species who live–or have lived–on Earth are also your children. You are not a person, but I know you are not less than a person either. You are a Great Being, not in the form of a human, but in the form of a planet–a living, breathing being.
Each species has its own language, yet as our Mother you can understand us all. That is why you can hear me today. That is why I can open my heart to you and offer you my prayer.

Dear Mother, wherever there is soil, water, rock or air, you are there, nourishing me and giving me life. You are present in every cell of my body. My physical body is your physical body, and just as the Sun and stars are present in you, they are also present in me. You are not outside of me and I am not outside of you. You are more than just my environment. You are nothing less than myself.
I promise to keep the awareness alive that you are always in me, and I am always in you. I promise to be aware that your health and wellbeing is my own health and wellbeing. I know I need to keep this awareness alive in me for us both to be peaceful, happy, healthy, and strong.

But sometimes I forget. Lost in the confusions and worries of daily life, I forget that my body is your body, and sometimes even forget that I have a body at all. Unaware of the presence of my body and the beautiful planet around me and within me, I am unable to cherish and celebrate the precious gift of life you have given me. Dear Mother, it is my deep wish to wake up to the miracle of life. I promise to train myself to be present for myself, my life and for you in every moment. I know that my true presence is the best gift I can offer you, the one I love.

Dharma Sharing

Lessons from the Earth Holder Retreat

Dario Sánchez
I arrived at the end of April 2016 to Deer Park with the intention of staying one month for a personal retreat knowing that during that period the Earth Holder’s were gathering for a retreat.  The title of the event was: “For a Future to be Possible.” This event’s title reminded me of our beloved teachers´ book where he gives readers the guidelines (Five Mindfulness Trainings) for an ethical way of living, a spiritual path, and the practices I need to move towards a better future, not only for myself, but for the world at large.
Before the event, I was very happy to work in the monastery in preparation for our guests. As they arrived I was very joyful to see old friends and had the opportunity as well to develop new ones. Like me, everyone desired to find ways to build communities and change our consumption that has put a risk our own survival on this planet.
I saw many ways to live my life that could help the current conditions in which I am affecting our environment: recycling, conserving water, practicing permaculture, consuming less—these were some of the actions that many participants were taking.
But what struck me most during the retreat was the relationship between animal consumption and the impact on the environment. We saw a documentary titled: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. Even though I am not a fan or supporter of conspiracies and would have preferred a different title, the documentary was very clear on the consequences of not acting immediately to change behavior of meat/animal consumption. If I and others don’t, the point of no return will pass.
I learned no matter where we are, we must act to mitigate the effects of global warming. My actions are important; what I consume as an individual matters to the environment—whether it is not accepting plastic bags when I go to a store or repairing my old shoes and not buying a new pair, using my bicycle or public transportation to go to work rather than driving my car. All of these small actions are important. 
But now we are faced with a more difficult problem and that is, how do we make Thay’s teaching go viral? There is a new Earth Holder Sangha taking action and looking for ways to transform and heal climate change, looking for the right actions in the area of sustainability to preserve our precious planet (www.EarthHolder.org).
Going back to Mexico after a month in the monastery I rejoined the “Sangha de Tijuana” weekly meetings with renewed vision. We must attempt to find ways to educate ourselves as members of our local practice community, to find out what can we do locally, to seek out resources that are available in our community, to partner with other local organizations and to take the six Earth Holder Pledges suggested by The Earth Holder Sangha.
Deep inside, everybody knows that we need to take action, deep inside of each one of us there is a “hero in waiting” ready to respond to the calling, a hero that needs to be awakened, deep inside of each one of us there is a Buddha to be awakened.
“Wanderer the road is your footsteps and nothing else. Wanderer, there is no path. You lay down the path in walking.” -A. Machado-
finds courage to look deeply and make the changes necessary for their own health, animal’s wellbeing, and the Planets overall survival.
Dario Sánchez (Chân Tinh Sỏn, True Mountain of Purity) from Tijuana, Baja California; He became an OI in 2009 at Deer Park. Author of a manual of bullying prevention in school, he is working in Mexico to bring mindfulness to education.
Sangha Action

Spiritual Communities in the Pacific Northwest Embrace Mother Earth

Rev. Jyna Gieber

In 2013 at Deer Park Monastery I was able to share with Thay in person the pain and confusion in my heart as a grandmother and budding elder about our suffering world. I wondered how to come from love, not anger or fear in addressing climate change? How could I experience enough support to stay awake to the beauty and despair of life?
Thay offered a deep answer, nuanced with layers of recommendation.
These are his words that transformed my relationship to dealing with the climate crisis:
  1. Like the Buddha, build the kind of Sangha and spiritual community that will support a calling to care for Mother Earth and all creation, to preserve the planet for coming generations.
  2. Give your grandchildren your best and have faith in the children. (You can see my question and answer session with Thay by visiting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TECt3JgMrk&feature=share&t=1h24m23s 
I’ve done my best to follow his recommendations. I humbly offer some experiences here:
It was an honor to lead the opening meditation at the 9/21/2014 People's Climate March in Portland, Oregon, which occurred simultaneously with marches around the planet. Inviting thousands of people gathered on the waterfront of the Willamette River to close their eyes, we breathed in and out together, feeling our oneness with the world on that momentous day. (See an interview following the People's Climate March: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o9gM3Ni87k&feature=youtu.be)
With my local spiritual community, we have participated in climate actions that incorporate the breath and the bell, including:
  • Flash mob meditations for love of the earth.
  • A Memorial remembrance of the Lac Megantic oil train disaster, inviting the temple bell to ring for each man, woman, and child who died.
  • A public walk near a site proposed for the largest oil terminal in North America.
  • An Interfaith Climate Justice Pilgrimage through the heart of the city.
  • At the premiere of a climate documentary.
  • Simultaneous with mass climate actions, facilitation of online meditations in support of nonviolent civil disobedience.
Inspired by the Earth Holder Sangha (http://www.earthholder.org), I requested that my sanghas incorporate a special Earth Holder theme. I created monthly dharma talks from the “World We Have”; sometimes the chapters are short and best read aloud by all to bring Thay’s voice into the room. Some chapters can be challenging to digest, so we sit with those feelings and speak from our hearts during the dharma sharing.
It has been joyful and deeply moving to share the Earth Holder energy in all these settings. May these examples inspire and support your efforts to combine passion and practice in order to act from love on behalf of Mother Earth!

Jayna Gieber (Chẩn Niệm Giỏi, True Recollection of Mindfulness Trainings) is an Order of Interbeing and Earth Holder Member in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. An activist for Mother Earth and all creatures, Jayna is motivated by ethical love to integrate mindfulness into the Climate Justice Movement and support a new story for our world. She can be contacted through her website: www.PeopleoftheHeart.com
For existing sanghas:
  • Request one sangha session per month be devoted to an Earth Holder focus.
  • Offer a Dharma talk or chapter reading from ”The World We Have”.
  • Lead a guided meditation from “Love Letter to the Earth”.
  • During sangha announcements, share invitations to local climate efforts.
  • Offer Earth Holder theme Days of Mindfulness (or “Retreat Days for Activists” for those not in our tradition).
  • Intentionally include people of color and from all walks of life to engage in earth holding activities.
For local, national, or international climate actions:
  • Contact groups/committees organizing the action, propose incorporation of a moment of silence, a bell, a gatha, or walk (from our tradition and related to Earth Holding Climate Justice) into the program or action being planned.
  • At planning meetings offer to invite a bell, encourage a few breaths together,or read brief words about Earth Holding (i.e.: a poem or quote).
  • When opportunity arises, speak publicly about Earth Holding from a spiritual and ethical perspective, in collaboration with right action.
  • Hold inclusive, public gatherings, such as Flash Meditations for Love of the Earth, Peace Walks for the Planet, etc.
  • At actions, festivals or fairs, have an Earth Holder table with educational materials and Earth Holder members ready to engage in dialogue.
  • At documentary premieres, offer to invite the bell before the film plays.
Click here (https://earthholdinghereandnow.org/) to watch YouTube videos of Earth Holder Retreat panel discussions, including:  
  • Mindful Earth Holder Advocacy, and
  • Earth Holder Sangha Building
Becoming a Member of the Earth Holding Sangha
Become a Member of the Earth Holder Sangha by taking the Six Earth Holder Pledges:
  1. I aspire and pledge to study, observe, and practice the Five or Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings
  2. I aspire and pledge to move in the direction of more simple and compassionate living by signing onto the Earth Peace Treaty and committing to transform three unwholesomehabits
  3. I aspire and pledge to eat a plant-based diet at least one day per week
  4. I aspire and pledge to participate in at least one Earth Holder “Global Call to Action” per year
  5. I aspire and pledge to introduce at least one “Earth Holder Guideline” to my individual or local sangha practice
  6. I aspire and pledge to attend semi-annual Earth Holder Sangha conference calls and participate in sangha decision-making
Email George Hoguet (George.Hoguet@gmail.com), to make your pledges known and become a Member of the Earth Holder Sangha. Tell us of your personal commitment so we can welcome you and include you in future Sangha correspondence.
Copyright © 2016 Earth Holding Initiative in Plum Village Tradition, All rights reserved.

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