Saturday, April 23, 2016

#114 / Why Buddha Touched The Earth


John Stanley and David Loy have written an article titled, "Why the Buddha Touched the Earth." I came across the article in the April 2016 edition of Common Ground. Here's the passage that caught my attention:

In one of Buddhism’s iconic images, Gautama Buddha sits in meditation with his left palm upright on his lap, while his right hand touches the earth. Demonic forces have tried to unseat him, because their king, Mara, claims that place under the bodhi tree. As they proclaim their leader’s powers, Mara demands that Gautama produce a witness to confirm his spiritual awakening. The Buddha simply touches the earth with his right hand, and the Earth itself immediately responds: “I am your witness.” Mara and his minions vanish. The morning star appears in the sky. This moment of supreme enlightenment is the central experience from which the whole of the Buddhist tradition unfolds.

This story suggests to me that we realize our rightful place in existence when we acknowledge that we spring from, are connected to, and depend upon the Earth that sustains all life. 

When we forget our ultimate dependence on the Natural Environment, and act as though we can live in a world of our own creation, without conforming that world, and our behavior, to the requirements of the Earth, demonic and destructive powers will have their way. 

How can we doubt that? Just look around, today!

Image Credit:


  1. This is the mudra that sits on my desk beside my computer, always in view, always a gentle reminder.

  2. “The entire cosmos is a cooperative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a cooperative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the Earth. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, cooperative enterprise — then we can build a noble environment. If our lives are not based on this truth, then we shall perish.” —Buddhadasa Bhikkhu


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