I would like to continue to unpack the practice of composure
or the practice of no preference.
“With the least like or dislike,
the mind is lost in confusion”
Thich Nhat Hanh teaches this type of equanimity through the
use of the touching the earth mudra
in various way.
First, of course, is Buddha touching the earth when Mara was
trying to pull him off his devotion to sitting and to enlightenment. Mara represents all our distractions,
taunts and doubts that shake our center and spiritual stability. Spiritual
stability is the ability to be centered under all circumstances. Through our patience, radical
acceptance and understanding of the emptiness of all that arises, we can
release our likes and dislikes and be the experience of the moment itself. In Buddha’s enlightenment story, he
touched the earth and allowed the earth as his witness to confirm his
buddha-nature and right to be free.
In the earth’s quake and roar, Mara disappears. Funny thing though about Mara, Mara
appears and disappears quite frequently!
So this is a continuous practice of reconfirming our understanding and
stability. Our composure. What is your basis of operation in your
life view? Is it the Big Mind view
that can put everything in the most universal perspective and allows us to
accept life on life’s terms?
A second way, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the touching the earth mudra is during a
bow. When our head touches the
ground, we can allow all our anxiety to drain into the earth which supports us
unconditionally in all times and all places. He even suggests that we take three mindful breaths,
discharging our anxiety into the earth, and breathing mindfully at the bottom
of our bow.
Thirdly is the suggestion that the earth receives everything
equally whether we would label it bad or good, pure or evil, satisfying or
From “Touching the
Earth, intimate conversations with the Buddha”:
“Lord Buddha, there
was a time when you taught the Venerable Rahula to learn to act as the
Earth. When people pour or
sprinkle on the Earth fragrant and pure substances like perfume and fragrant
milk, the Earth does not feel proud.
But when people pour upon the Earth unclean and bad-smelling substances
like excrement, urine, blood, pus, or phlegm the Earth does not feel anger,
hatred, or shame. The Earth has
the capacity to receive, embrace and transform everything”
This equanimity, to receive everything equally, is the basis
of composure or spiritual stability as Katagiri Roshi often called it. It requires an extremely deep view of
life and a kind of patience that is not frustrated patience but the patience
that comes from actually seeing everything as Buddha.
Stable as a mountain.
The storms, the winds, the snow, the rain, sunshine, flowers, cow dung
and urine, everything is accepted by the unmoving mountain.
Labels: Buddha's enlightenment story, composure, equanimity, like and dislike, spiritual stability, Thich Nhat hanh, Touching the earth mudra