Touching the Earth in Six Prostrations

Touching the Earth in Six Prostrations
© Tarchin Hearn

“I prostrate in all directions to the magnificence of creation.”

The Basic Practice

1) Recollecting all my teachers, an ocean of inspiration, I feel your presence within and around me, with deep appreciation and gratitude, I touch the earth.

2) Recollecting the genetic and historic ground of my ancestors, feeling this vast river of talents, with profound gratitude and appreciation, I touch the earth.

3) Recollecting the ecological ground, the matrix of living beings that support this very moment, in wonderment and appreciation, I touch the earth.

4) Realising that myself and these three have never been separate, I touch the earth.

5) Letting go of negativities and clinging, I touch the earth.

6) Radiating lovingkindness to all beings, I touch the earth.

An Expanded Version

1 – Standing; feet firmly upon the earth, I soften into my bones and muscles, my whole body, swaying in space, a dancing of fine adjustments supporting this upright posture. Breathing in and breathing out; I feel the tides of air, the ebb and flow, the endless intimate breathing with a living world. Present; all my senses are open: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking.

Standing, breathing, present, I open the doors of appreciation to all the beings who have been dharma teachers for me. Lamas, yogis, gurus of many lineages and traditions; artists, musicians, philosophers; scientists, adventurers, writers; educators, social activists, healers, and friends; beings who have inspired the unfolding of my life in the direction of Wisdom and Compassion.  I open the doors of appreciation to all the teachers of the past, all the teachers in the present and all the teachers yet to come. I feel your presence around me and within me. You continue to inspire and shape me in innumerable wondrous ways. You are expressions of the very foundation of my being, reminders of what is truly functional and meaningful. With deep gratitude and profound appreciation, knowing your presence expressing itself through my body, speech and mind, I touch the earth.

Contemplating in this way, I bring my hands together in a gesture of prayer and touch them to my forehead, throat, and heart, with the mantras OM, AH, HUM. Then I lower myself down to the floor, resting there for a while, physically touching the earth while feeling the union of myself and these myriad sources of guidance and inspiration. On each exhalation I relax more deeply into the ground.  After three or four unhurried inhalations and exhalations I mindfully stand up.

2 – Standing, breathing, present; I open the doors of appreciation to the genetic and historical river of becoming. My mother and father, grandparents, great grandparents, a beginningless chain of ancestors extending back as far as I can imagine. I feel the presence of whole societies, peoples migrating across the earth, meeting new challenges, discovering ways of surviving, passing on knowledge to future generations, a river of talents, flowing through as an eternally creative present. I feel your presence in the shape and workings of my body, the dance of my senses, the play of my attitudes, the history of mammalian life, the history of the mystery of living forms weaving the story of becoming that is this planet making itself known, through me and around me. I feel your presence flowing out into my children and my children’s children, generations of ancestors yet to come. Knowledges of healing, of educating, of growing food and building shelter, of arts and sciences, of religion and philosophy. Feeling this vast repository of talent and knowledge empowering my body, speech and mind, with profound wonderment and respect, I touch the earth.

Contemplating in this way, I bring my hands together in a gesture of prayer and touch them to my forehead, throat and heart, with the mantras OM, AH, HUM. Then I lower myself down to the floor, resting there for a while, physically touching the earth while feeling the union of myself and these myriad sources of talent and knowledge. On each exhalation I relax more deeply into the ground. After three or four unhurried inhalations and exhalations I mindfully stand up.

3 – Standing, breathing, present; I open the doors of appreciation to the ecological ground. I feel myself embedded in a vast dynamic ecology of life, an unfolding of myriad interdependent manifestations of intelligent shaping. With each breath I breathe with the green plants. My body, speech and mind are expressions of air, water, earth and radiant solar energy, weavings of becoming, journeyings of atoms, molecules, cells, and organs. They are a dancing of organisms, bio-systems, planets, solar systems and cosmic arisings. I feel the rivers and oceans in my blood and tears. I feel the mystery of transforming vegetables and animal flesh, the continuous coming into being and passing away that is my body, feelings and thinking. With awe and wonderment, sensing the begininglessness and endlessness of everything that is, I touch the earth.

Contemplating in this way, I bring my hands together in a gesture of prayer and touch them to my forehead, throat and heart, with the mantras OM, AH, HUM. Then I lower myself down to the floor, resting there for a while, physically touching the earth while feeling the union of myself and this vast ocean of becoming. On each exhalation I relax more deeply into the ground. After three or four unhurried inhalations and exhalations I mindfully stand up.

4 – Standing, breathing, present, with deepening confidence that myself and these three great treasuries, these three faces of the ineffable ground of being, have never been separate in the least; sensing the unbroken wholeness of totality, a seamless un-pin-down-able mystery appearing as the fullness of now; with awe, vitality and presence, resting in the mystery of non-separation, the spacious openness of interbeing, I touch the earth.

Contemplating in this way, I bring my hands together in a gesture of prayer and touch them to my forehead, throat and heart, with the mantras OM, AH, HUM. Then I lower myself down to the floor, resting there for a while, physically touching the earth while feeling the mystery of union revealing itself in every moment of knowing. On each exhalation I relax more deeply into the ground. After three or four unhurried inhalations and exhalations I mindfully stand up.

5 – Standing, breathing, present, I recognise how clinging to patterns of body, communication and conceptualising, are habits inherited or arising from this same triple ground.  Feeling the suffering of clinging, the struggle of trying to make permanent that which is impermanent; feeling the anguish, pain, hopes, fears and confusions of uncountable beings weaving these present patterns of dysfunction and defensiveness in my own being; with courage and determination to uplift everyone, letting go of clinging in body, speech and mind, I touch the earth.

Contemplating in this way, I bring my hands together in a gesture of prayer and touch them to my forehead, throat and heart, with the mantras OM, AH, HUM. Then I lower myself down to the floor, resting there for a while, physically touching the earth while completely letting go in every aspect of my being. On each exhalation I relax more deeply into the ground. After three or four unhurried inhalations and exhalations I mindfully stand up.

6 – Standing, breathing, present, experiencing a vast glow of kindness and interest for every manifestation of life; radiating lovingkindness to all beings of present, past and future, with a deep wish that everyone recognise the true nature of being; with body, speech and mind, I touch the earth.

Contemplating in this way, I bring my hands together in a gesture of prayer and touch them to my forehead, throat and heart, with the mantras OM, AH, HUM. Then I lower myself down to the floor, resting there for a while, physically touching the earth while feeling the healing presence of lovingkindness flowing out in all directions, supporting and nourishing every arising manifestation. On each exhalation I relax more deeply into the Ground.  After three or four unhurried inhalations and exhalations I mindfully stand up.

After completing these prostrations, if time and inclination allows, you might continue with a more traditional form of prostration from the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition.  Try to infuse your practice with this knowing of the presence of the Triple Ground.

After finishing the practice, sit for a while and share the merit aspiring that through practising in this way, all beings will come to know their own true nature.

A Few Further Hints

First — Learn the general format from the expanded version.  Feel free to use your own words, one’s that touch your own life most relevantly.

Second — Explore each of the three aspects of the ground as a flow-through. Teachings from the past and present, inspiring you and flowing out, through your inspiration, into the future, through all the beings that you meet. Talents of past generations flowing into you and our through your children and so forth. The continual flowing of materials and energies, revealed in the dancing of transient forms that is this ecosystem of life.  Everything is in flow and transformation.  These three, teachers, talents and ecological flow, are what I mean by the triple ground.

Third — Knowing this, not just conceptually, but with your body, speech and mind.

Fourth — Do each prostration as an  exploration of extraordinarily rich body awareness, a kind of tai chi or kum nye or feldenkrais movement.

Fifth — See other beings that you meet in the course of the day, family, friends, strangers, co-workers, enemies and so forth, as expressions of this vast creative ground.

Sixth — Touching the earth in every moment of the day – walking, working, cooking, driving the car etc. Not stepping out of the ground for an instant! Like water returning to the sea – at rest, attentive, even, loving, appreciating, respectful, responsive, clear.  Living refuge – a profound sense of belonging.  Wondrous!

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