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Lions Roar : July 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 47 peace, understanding, and love can be called a bodhisattva, but a bodhisattva doesn’t have to be a human being. When we look into a tree, we see the tree is fresh, it nourishes life, and it offers shade and beauty. It’s a place of refuge for so many birds and other creatures. A bodhisattva is not something that is up in the clouds far away from us. Bodhisattvas are all around us. A young person who has love, who has freshness, who has under- standing, who offers us a lot of happiness, is a bodhisattva. The pine standing in the garden gives us joy, offers us oxygen, and makes life more beautiful. When we say that earth is a beautiful bodhisattva, this is not our imagination. It is a fact that the earth is giving life and she is very beautiful. The bodhisattva is not a separate spirit inhabiting the earth; we should transcend that idea. There are not two sepa- rate things—the earth, which is a material thing, and the spirit of the earth, a nonmaterial thing that inhabits the earth. Our planet earth is itself a true, great bodhisattva. It embodies so many great virtues. The earth is solid—it can carry so many things. It is patient—it takes its time moving glaciers and carv- ing rocks. The earth doesn’t discriminate. We can throw fragrant flowers on the earth, or we can throw urine and excrement on the earth, and the earth purifies it. The earth has a great capacity to endure, and it offers so much to nourish us—water, shelter, food, and air to breathe. When we recognize the virtues, the talent, the beauty of the earth bodhisattva, love is born. You love the earth and the earth loves you. You would do anything for the well-being of the earth. And the earth will do anything for your well-being. That is the natural outcome of the real loving relationship. The earth is not just your environment, to be taken care of or worshiped; you are each other. Every mindful step can manifest that love. Part of love is responsibility. In Buddhism, we speak of medita- tion as an act of awakening. To awaken is to be awake to something. We need to be awake to the fact that the earth is in danger and living species on earth are also in danger. When we walk mindfully, each step reminds us of our responsibility. We have to protect the earth with the same commitment we have to protect our family and our- selves. The earth can nourish and heal us but it suffers as well. With each step the earth heals us, and with each step we heal the earth. When we walk mindfully on the face of the earth, we are grounded in her generosity and we cannot help but be grateful. All of the earth’s qualities of patience, stability, creativity, love, and nondiscrimination are available to us when we walk rever- ently, aware of our connection. PHOTOBYDONFARBER Walking meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh during a Day of Mindfulness at Deer Park Monastery.