Earth Touching

 

Here is the foot of a tree.
Here is an empty, quiet place.
Here is a small sitting cushion.
Here is the cool green of the grass.
My child, why don’t you sit down?

Sit upright.
Sit with solidity.
Sit in peace.
Don’t let your thoughts lift you up into the air.
Sit so that you can really touch the Earth
and be one with her.
You may like to smile, my child.

Earth will transmit to you her solidity,
her peace, and her joy.
With your mindful breathing,
with your peaceful smile,
you sustain the mudra of Earth Touching.

There were times when you didn’t do well.
Sitting on the earth, it was as if you were floating in the air,
You who used to wander in the cycle of birth and death,
drifting and sinking in the ocean of misperceptions.
But Earth is always patient
and one-hearted.
Earth is still waiting for you
because Earth has been waiting for you
during the last trillion lives.
That is why she can wait for you for any length of time.
She will always welcome you,
always fresh and green, exactly like the first time,
because love never says, “This is the last”;
because Earth is a loving mother,
She will never stop waiting for you.

Do go back to her, my child.
You will be like that tree.
The leaves, the branches, and the flowers of your soul
will be fresh and green
once you enter the mudra of Earth Touching.

The empty path welcomes you, my child,
filled with grass and little flowers,
the path among the fragrant rice paddy
that you walked on, holding your mother’s hand,
is still impressed in your mind.
Walk leisurely, peacefully.
Your feet should deeply touch the earth.
Don’t let your thoughts lift you up into the air, my child.
Go back to the path every moment.
The path is your dearest friend.
She will transmit to you
her strength,
her peace.

Your diligent awareness of your breathing
will keep you in touch with the earth.
Walk as if you were kissing the earth with your feet,
as if you were massaging the earth.
The marks left by your feet
will be like the emperor’s seal
calling the Now to come back to the Here;
so that life will be present,
so that the blood will bring the color of love to your face,
so that the wonders of life will be manifested,
and all afflictions will be transformed into
peace and joy.

There were times when you did not succeed, my child.
Walking on the empty path, you were floating in the air,
because you used to get lost in samsara
and drawn into a world of illusion.
But the beautiful path is always patient.
It is always waiting for you to come back,
the path which is familiar to you,
the path which is so faithful.
It knows deeply that you will come back one day.
It will be joyful to welcome you back.
It will be as fresh and as beautiful as the first time.
Love never says, “This is the last.”

That path is you, my child.
That is why it will never be tired of waiting.
Whether it is covered now with red dust
or with autumn leaves
or icy snow—
do go back to the path, my child,
because I know
you will be like that tree,
the leaves, the trunk the branches,
and the blossoms of your soul
will be fresh and beautiful,
once you enter the mudra of Earth Touching.

–Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
from Call Me By My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh

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