Touching the Earth

Touching the Earth

For many who visit the monastery, the practice of touching the earth can feel foreign. This practice comes in several forms, and the most common is practiced during the opening of all ceremonies. For example, the Ceremony to Recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings or the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. A typical ceremony will begin with a short period of silent sitting followed by an incense offering, then touching the earth.

The prostration, placing our knees, arms, and head on the floor, is a way to express gratitude and humility. To aspire, recognize, and see our own capacity to be a bodhisattva. To recognize and see our interbeing nature.

In the moment, we listen to each earth touching but perhaps wish to return and look more closely at the words. These here are the most common prostrations.

The one who bows and the one who is bowed to are both, by nature, empty
Therefore the communication between them is inexpressibly perfect
Our practice center is the net of Indra reflecting all Buddhas everywhere
And my own person in front of each Budddha, I go with my whole life for refuge

Offering Light in the ten directions,
the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Teaching and living the way of awareness
in the very midst of suffering and confusion,
Sakyamuni Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Cutting through ignorance,
awakening our hearts and our minds,
Mañjuśrī, the Bodhisattva of Great Understanding,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Working mindfully and joyfully
for the sake of all beings,
Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Great Action,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Listening deeply, servicing beings in countless ways,
Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Fearless and persevering through realms of
suffering and darkness
Kṣitigarbha, the Bodhisattva of Great Aspiration,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Mother of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and all beings,
nourishing, holding and healing all,
Bodhisattva Gaia, Great Mother Earth,
precious jewel of the cosmos
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Radiating light in all directions, source of life on earth,
Mahāvairocana Tathāgata, Great Father Sun,
Buddha of infinite light and life,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Seed of awakening and loving kindness
in children and all beings,
Maitreya, the Buddha to be born,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

Showing the way fearlessly and compassionately,
the stream of all our ancestral teachers,
to whom we bow in gratitude.

There are a few others, such as Mahākāśyapa, Śāriputra, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, Upāli, Ānanda, and Mahagautami. But these are not typically recited during regular ceremonies. These are listed in the Stepping Into Freedom book.

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