We have all been impacted by non-empathic environments in our lives and so have suffered. This may seem a mild description, given the experience it tries to describe. To say it in another, more experiential way: we have all felt ourselves humiliated, discounted, and used as objects to serve the desperate needs of others; we have all been abandoned, left to disintegrate in the face of unknown horrors; we have all felt the gut-wrenching plummet toward personal non-existence. This may now seem overstated - but not to those aspects of us who bore the brunt of this wounding.
And we have all done whatever we needed to do in order to survive such degradation and annihilation - we have developed some amount of survival personality. That is, we have all had the life we were meant to live driven underground; we have all been entranced, brainwashed into forgetting our heights and our depths; we have all been forced to live a pretense, burying our true selves.
- The Psychotherapy of Love, Firman/Gila
A new view
Dear Mother Earth, we stand before you, with awareness, gratitude, and the deep aspiration to live in harmony as a spiritual family. We know that you are alive in us, and that we can always take refuge in you.
Dear Mother Earth, we see that we and all our ancestors are your children. With your patience, stability, endurance and creativity you have nourished us and guided us through many lifetimes. You have given birth to countless Great Beings, Buddhas, Saints, and Bodhisattvas. You are the great Earth, you are Terra, you are Gaia, you are this beautiful blue planet. You are the Earth Refreshing Bodhisattva—fragrant, cool, and kind. We see that although we and our ancestors have made many mistakes, you have always forgiven us. Each time we return to you you are ready to open your arms and embrace us.
Due to our wrong perceptions and discrimination, we have lived a life of separation, hatred, loneliness, suffering, and despair. This year has brought new and unforeseen challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, and in its wake we struggle to remain calm and free from delusion. We have allowed individualism to prevail, and it has caused severe damage and hardship to you and to ourselves. By continuing to run after fame, wealth, power, and sensual pleasures—forgetting that these pursuits can never bring us true happiness—we neglect to heal and transform our own suffering and the collective suffering. Without such healing and transformation, fear and racism ingrained deeply in the fabric of our society and its institutions continue to compound old wounds with fresh wounds.
Through many lifetimes we have been unable to recognize you, Mother Earth, manifesting as the Pure Land, as the Kingdom of God, as the most wondrous home that we have. We have continued to run after a distant Promised Land in heaven or in the future. This has caused us and you much suffering. Tonight, as we touch the Earth, we stop grasping at an imagined happiness, and, instead, offer you and our ancestors our true presence. We have arrived. You are our home—our only home.
We have learned that only love and compassion can make our lives meaningful, allowing us to protect and preserve your beauty and to heal ourselves. We can learn to live as one family—as a community of brothers and sisters, all children of the same Great Mother Earth— giving our descendants a chance for a healthy and bright future. Discrimination, violence and hatred, which have brought about systemic racism and the climate crisis, will not continue to persist if we learn to look at one another with eyes of compassion and non-fear. We know that only through building brotherhood and sisterhood like that in the present moment can we make this future a reality here and now.
Dear Mother Earth, we make the vow to learn to live in harmony and peace in the very heart of our family and our community—just as bees in the same beehive, and cells in the same body. We promise to develop the capacity to remain open hearted in our communication with members of our family and our community, and not to get caught in our own perceptions. We promise to always listen deeply and to use the kind of peaceful and loving speech that can bring about real transformation and healing. We shall learn to listen to your voice, Mother Earth, to understand you deeply, taking to heart your guidance and the guidance of our ancestors. Your voice of insight and wisdom lives inside of us. We also vow to listen to our brothers, our sisters, our friends, and to our children—seeing you in them—so that we may live in peace and harmony together. We promise to learn to see the happiness and well-being of our family and community as our own happiness and well-being.
Dear Mother Earth, with great reverence we begin anew. We promise to you and to our children that we shall learn to breathe and walk mindfully in each moment of our daily life, to use the eyes and ears of the family and community in order to understand, to live simply and to love without discrimination—as you do. You, Mother Earth, accept all things: the rain, the sun, the decaying organic matter of our very bodies, as well as our trash, viruses and disease, and countless poisonous chemicals and other materials—all without complaint. You courageously work to transform everything given to you—even if it takes millions of years—so that life can continue to manifest in new forms. We promise to learn from you to stop running from our suffering, and, instead, to recognize, embrace and transform it. Only by stopping to under stand our suffering can we heal and touch true happiness, and, at the same time, restore your beauty and freshness.
You have been calling to us, and some of us have heard your pain. You have been asking us for many lifetimes whether you can count on us. Tonight, with palms joined and with one heart, we say, “Yes, Mother, you can count on us.” We shall practice for you and for all our ancestors so that joy, peace and harmony will become possible again.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village, France
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
- John O'Donohue, abridged from For One Who Is Exhausted, A Blessing
On A good day
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
- W. Blake
Repair and growth
Adjustment and coping counseling efforts, as well as what I have termed self-renewal therapy, are chiefly concerned with deficiency motivation. They are concerned with reducing negative experiences; essentially they seek to repair one's way of being in the world. In contrast, growth, emancipation, and transcendence are goals which are concerned with realizing more from one's being. They do not seek to return the person to some presumed better, former condition so much as to draw one forward to richness and meaningfulness of life, greater than that person has known before.
- James F. T. Bugental, PhD
Perhaps it is wise to pay respectful attention to all behavior. When we do we may become open to more and more possibilities of behavior. We might learn a great deal when we are open to everything and not just figuring out what pleases.
Perhaps style is no substitute for substance, that knowing certain facts is not more powerful than simple wisdom, that creating an impression is not more potent than acting from one's center.
Perhaps effective action arises out of silence and a clear sense of being. Perhaps this is a source of peace. We may discover the person who is down-to-earth can do what needs doing effectively.
Perhaps you would like to investigate for yourself.
- Heider, 1985, adapted
to experience in the