Earth Day

Nikon D750   f/8  1/50s  300 mm  100 ISO  

We Are Not Separate From the Earth

We think that the earth is the earth and we are something outside of the earth. But in fact we are inside of the earth. Imagine that the earth is the tree and we are a leaf. The earth is not the environment, something outside of us that we need to care for. The earth is us. Just as your parents, ancestors, and teachers are inside you, the earth is in you. Taking care of the earth, we take care of ourselves.

When we see that the earth is not just the environment, that the earth is in us, at that moment you can have real communion with the earth. But if we see the earth as only the environment, with ourselves in the center, then we only want to do something for the earth in order for us to survive. But it is not enough to take care of the earth. That is a dualistic way of seeing.

We have to practice looking at our planet not just as matter, but as a living and sentient being. The universe, the sun, and the stars have contributed many elements to the earth, and when we look into the earth we see that it’s a very beautiful flower containing the presence of the whole universe. When we look into our own bodily formation, we are made of the same elements as the planet. It has made us. The earth and the universe are inside of us.

~Thich Nhat Hanh (


beginning anew


Although we think the past is gone and the future is not yet here, if we look deeply we see that reality is more than that. The past exists in the guise of the present because the present is made from the past. In this teaching, if we establish ourselves firmly in the present and touch the present moment deeply, we also touch the past and have the power to repair it. That is a wonderful teaching and practice. We don’t have to bear our wound forever. We are all unmindful at times; we have made mistakes in the past. It does not mean that we have to always carry that guilt without transforming it. Touch the present deeply and you touch the past. Take care of the present and you can repair the past. The practice of beginning anew is a practice of the mind. Once you realize what mistake you made in the past, you are determined never to do it again. Then the wound is healed. It is a wonderful practice.

~Thich Nhat Hanh & Melvin McLeod (The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh)

mindful energy

Nikon D750      f/1.8   1/10   35mm   100 ISO   (neutral density lens)

Every moment that we’re alive in this body, in this human manifestation, we’re emitting energy. This energy can be transformed but it can’t die; it remains in the world forever. … A thought is an action because it already has energy and it has the power to affect things. When we produce a thought of compassion, understanding, and love, that thought has the power to heal our body, our mind, and the world. If we produce a thought of hatred, anger, or despair, that thought has an affect not only on ourselves but on the world; it can destroy us and lead to the obstruction of many other lives.

Suppose a nation produces a collective thought of anger and fear and decides to go to war. The whole country is then producing fear and anger. That collective fear and anger can cause much real destruction and suffering. … The thoughts and feelings we send out to into the world have a powerful effect. Every thought we produce, everything we do and say, is an action. These actions continue forever. They can transform, but like the cloud, they will not disappear. We have to recognize the power of our [actions] and make a firm determination to be mindful of our thoughts, speech, and actions in order to heal ourselves and the Earth.

Thich Nhát Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth

with each breath…

Spring Creek         Nikon D750   f/2   1/40s   35mm   100 ISO

The foundation of all mindfulness practice is awareness of the breath. There is no mindfulness without awareness of our in-breath and out-breath. Mindful breathing unites the body and mind and helps us to become aware of what is going on inside us and around us. In our daily life, we often forget that mind and body are connected. Our bodies are here but our minds are not. Sometimes we lose ourselves in a book, a film, the internet or an electronic game, and we’re carried off, far away from our body and the reality of where we are. Then, when we lift our head out of the book or look up from the screen, we may be confronted with feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear, or irritation. We rarely go back to our inner peace, to our inner island of calm and clarity, to be in touch with Mother Earth.

We can get so caught up in our plans, fears, agitations, and dreams that we aren’t living in our bodies anymore and we’re not in touch with our real mother, the Earth, either. We can’t see the miraculous beauty and magnificence that our planet offers to us. We are living more and more in the world of our minds and becoming increasingly alienated from the physical world. Returning to our breathing brings body and mind back together and reminds us of the miracle of the present moment. Our planet is rich here, powerful, generous, and supportive at every moment. Once we recognize these qualities in the Earth, we can take refuge in her in our difficult moments, making it easier for us to embrace our fear and suffering and to transform it.

Awareness of the in-breath and out-breath first of all calms us down. By paying attention to your breathing, without judgment, you bring peace back to your body, and release the pain and tension. …

When our minds and bodies have calmed down, we begin to see more clearly. When we see more clearly, we feel more connected to ourselves and to the Earth and we have more understanding. When there is clarity and understanding, love can bloom because true love is based on understanding.

…Each breath contains nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor as well as other trace elements, so each breath that we inhale contains the Earth. With each breath, we’re reminded that we are part of this beautiful life-giving planet.

~Thich Nhát Hahn, (Love Letter to the Earth)



I’ll forget the trail

I marked out on Mount Yoshino

last year,

go searching for blossoms

in directions I’ve never been before

~Saigyō (B Watson, Poems of a Mountain Home)


hidden stories


Closed minds and hearts are the result of a failure of trust.

In response to a slight tugging at my shirtsleeve, my attention is redirected away from this search for answers within the words of others and into the eyes of a three-year-old child, who asks, “Find daddy?”…

My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son. I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept. I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father. Did we believe we could find him fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search? I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search for our father.

Shortly after this incident my mother remarried, and by the time I was seven years old, she was divorced and pregnant with her fifth child. Her fourth child, taken by his father in the dark of night, vanished within the tangled web of adults who regressed into childlike behaviors under incompetent custody laws.

My reflective mind recalls the unbound inquisitiveness that carried my six-year-old emotional self into the house from school knowing on that day my mother’s fifth child was to be born. I can still feel the internal rebound that coincides with walking into an unseen plate of glass as my being absorbed, not the tone of grief, but the intensity of frustration within my grandmother’s assertion, “The baby died!”

The Buddha’s recommendation to abstain from false speech is found in the position that people connect with one another within an atmosphere of mutual trust, where each draws upon the belief that the other will speak the truth. It is suggested therefore that families and societies will fall into chaos as one untruth shatters trust, as it is the nature of lies to proliferate through attempts to weave a harmonious tapestry of reality.

When I reflect upon those times in which I experience an intense urge to say other than what I believe is true, I know it is fed by the anxiety intrinsic to uncertainty, and inherent with the aloneness of expulsion. At other times, the drive seems to come from a sense of nothingness that seeks validation through inclusion with others or continuity within mangled and haphazard memories. It feels as though it is an act that preserves or ensures a sense of control, power, or protection.

What this force blinds me to is the powerlessness that coincides with the telling of an untruth, as well as the emotional separation that overlaps the fear of discovery. It also creates the need for another story to support the one prior. Therefore, the beliefs that compel me to lie are but a layer of lies within a lie.

The intensity of my grandmother’s words served to erect an unbreakable barrier: “This is not to be spoken of,” and thus a door of understanding remained closed between us throughout the remainder of her life. It is her handwriting within a book authored by one of her older sisters that gives me a glimpse into her private struggles: …

When I read these words, I come to an understanding of a woman who suffered less at the hands of others and more from an unforgiving ego fettered to her own grief, shame, remorse, and guilt. Therefore, I have become acquainted with a woman whose own suffering blinded her to the threads of grief and loss my three-year-old self had previously woven into a tapestry of death and to the subsequent re-weaving of the incongruence between my father’s going to heaven, my brother’s disappearance, the baby’s death, and the near-drowning of my older sister and I.

Two weeks after my grandmother declared the baby dead, my infant sister–but not my father or my brother–returned to the family.

~B. Catherine Koeford, Meditative Journey with Saldage

With this history in mind, Thich Nhat Hanh opens a door to compassionate healing.

this is, because…

ruleofspace-1web copy

This is, because that is.  This is not, because that is not. This comes to be, because that comes to be. This ceases to be, because that ceases to be…This is like this, because that is like this.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha

time-lapse of an apple blossom transforming