Chan Phap Ho, Buddhist Monk and Dharma Teacher ordained by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, resident of Deer Park Monastery, born in Stockholm, Sweden
NOTE: this article was first posted in 2016 on the EarthHoldingHereAndNow Blog.
I want to share with you some wonderful and life giving experiences from our Earth Holding Theme Weekend here at Deer Park Monastery this past weekend. Together 25 committed meditation practitioners with a caring heart and concrete actions of supporting the well-being of our planet and numberless beings gathered together. We spent much time outside, but our Earth Holding sessions also took place inside. The yurt offered a beautiful and natural roundness to our time together.
During the weekend we eat vegan, home cooked food together in silence. Serving and eating our meal in silence offered us a chance to deepen our connection with the cosmos. Thay’s calligraphy: “The bread in your hand is the body of the cosmos” is not a nice idea — it is a living reality. This awakening can happen when we touch the present moment deeply. We do not have to think and speculate about this too much, simply touch it for ourselves. As we open our meal up for conversations after about 20 minutes of silent eating everyone can connect verbally in a very real way.
The first evening we went on walking meditation up the mountain in the dark. Taking refuge in each step and the warmth of the community surrounding us. Our path was lit up by the waxing moon and tea candles we all brought along. It was a pilgrimage into the arms of Mother Earth. On the mountain we formed a circle and chanted: May Earth be filled with loving kindness. May Earth be well. May Earth be peaceful and at ease. May Earth be happy. This is not an empty wish, but a deep aspiration in all our hearts, which we are already expressing in our actions. We ended our time on the mountain by reading a love letter to Mother Earth as we faced the valley and the cities of Escondido and San Marcos lay before our feet. Looking out over all the development and lights someone asked themselves: what have we done?
A large part of our Earth Holding practice here at Deer Park is to get to know the native vegetation and support the plant world. This past winter has not offered much rain and we’ve had several years of below average rainfall putting us into a drought. The coastal live oak in this area are also challenged by the spread of oak borers, which make the removal of non native grasses at the foot of the mighty oaks an act of love.
This weekend was a continuation for our collective practice as Earth Holders, but also a deepening and an inspiration to take new steps. There will be more sharing about this coming up and we are preparing a blog entry with our reflections on a sustainable and life-giving continuation of our practice together to offer the world on Earth Day April 22.
During our Sunday Day of Mindfulness we encouraged all visitors to have a look at the Earth Peace Treaty Commitment Sheet, as a mirror reflecting our actions and our impact on the natural system of our planet. We also shared about the insights of the Diamond that Cuts through Illusion Sutra, maybe the first text on deep ecology, freeing us from the notions of a self, a person, a living being or a life span. When we wake up to the reality that we are the Earth, we can act more skillfully to support well-being and help transform ill-being.
We continue our practice and our engagement:
- out of love — not fear,
- aimlessly— but diligently,
- in togetherness — not in separation.
In awe of the wonders of our world — Brother Protection