Touching the Earth
Transcription of a talk by Thich Nhat Hahn
As more and more people suffer the pain of being uprooted from their culture, we need more than ever to come into contact with our own heritage and with the positive seeds of our tradition. The moment we feel happy, society already begins to be transformed, and others feel some happiness too. When someone in society discovers his true identity, we all find our identity. This is the principle of interbeing. Even though our society has caused us pain, suffering, internal formations and illness, we have to open our arms and embrace society in complete acceptance. We have to go back to our society with the intention to rebuild society and enrich its life by offering the appropriate therapies for its illnesses. I would like to offer an exercise that can help to do this. It is called Touching the Earth.
In each of us, there are many kinds of ideas, notions, attachments, and discrimination. This practice involves bowing down and touching the Earth, emptying ourselves, and surrendering to Earth. You touch the Earth with your forehead, your two hands, your two feet, and you surrender to your true nature, accepting any form of life your true nature offers you. Surrender your pride, hopes, ideas, fears, and notions. Empty yourself of all resentment you feel toward anyone. Surrender everything, and empty yourself completely. To do this is the best way to replenish yourself. If you do not exhale and empty your lungs, how can fresh air enter?
In this practice, the body and the mind work together in harmony to form a perfect whole. We prostrate ourselves six times to help us realize our deep connection to our own roots: