In the Arms of Mother Earth Retreat, New Mexico
In September last year the International Earth Holder Community held a retreat in New Mexico attended by monastics form the Plum Village Tradition. Here is a sharing from Br. Phap Ho, the abbot of Deer Park Monastery, about the retreat and the community:
Arriving at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, with red rock mesas around, truly felt like entering the Arms of Mother Earth, the theme for our retreat. As the opening ceremony was nearing, the thunder spoke and a short down poor marked the beginning. We were blessed to have the presence of three Tewa elders (the Tewa are a local native american tribe), who offered some traditional chants and words of blessing to open our retreat.
We had 200 participants with a group of 10 monastics, humans coming together to walk on the earth, fall in love with the earth, embrace our pain and celebrate our love. The schedule included sessions of basic mindfulness meditation, Dharma talks, sharing groups, as well as workshops on Trauma Resilience, Nature Walk, Earth Holder Community building etc. The monastic and lay organisers worked beautifully together, fuelled by our care for the earth and all her children.
The strength of our community in relation to climate crisis is to contribute in a way that:
• we engage in love, not fear,
• we engage in togetherness, not in separation, and
• we engage diligently and aimlessly.
Mindfulness of breathing and walking, loving speech, and deep listening are powerful sources of refuge and energy in this practice and engagement.
(You can find two dharma talks on this page from this retreat. Here is a short video from a previous EH retreat which was held at Deer Park Monastery in 2016.)
The Original Earth Holder
The inspiration for the name of the community comes from the Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara. Our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has translated the name of the Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara as “Bodhisattva Protector of the Earth” or “Earth Holder” and has written about Earth Holding in his books The World We Have and Peaceful Action, Open Heart:
“This Bodhisattva helps further communication between humans and other species… Earth Holder works to preserve this planet for living beings by taking care of the air, water, and soil… We have to take up the practice of Earth Holder Bodhisattva and make protecting and preserving the Earth a top priority… We cannot say that we are too busy to take up this work… We must work to increase awareness of the situation because only mindfulness, awareness of what is happening, can save us from the path of certain disaster we are currently on.” – TNH
About The International Earth Holder Community
The International Earth Holder Community is an community in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, engaged in practicing mindfully to apply his teachings, in order to protect this precious planet. First created in the USA in 2015, the community is guided by the engaged Buddhist ethics of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.
The purpose of the Earth Holder Community is to:
Build a community of “Earth Holders”, bringing like-minded community members together for support and inspiration, and to develop “Earth Holding” practices inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings. To engage in mindful Right Action, locally, nationally and internationally and to support sustainable communities, in particular Plum Village monasteries, lay practice centers and local practice communities.
They have a quarterly newsletter and hold a monthly online community meeting on the second Sunday of each month, which is attended by people from all over the world. The community has many resources online including a beginning anew practice with the earth, information on how to hold an Earth Holder day of mindfulness in your area, a peace treaty with the earth, a practice ideas book and support and inspiration for those who wish to follow a plant-based diet. They also hold webinars, retreats and calls to action. Their next retreat will be held in August, 2018, in Minnesota, USA. It is called: Go as a River: Peacefully Breathing and Joyfully Walking Through Times of Great Change