Earth Gathas: Meditations for Mindful Living
Gathas help us to practice mindfulness in our daily lives and to look deeply. Reciting these short verses will bring awareness, peace, and joy to the simple activities we may take for granted, like eating a meal, washing our hands, or taking out the garbage. These gathas remind us that Earth provides us with precious gifts every day.
Taking the First Step of the Day
Walking on the Earth is a miracle! Each mindful step reveals the wondrous dharmakaya.
This poem can be recited right as we get out of bed and our feet touch the floor. It can also be used during walking meditation or any time we stand up and walk. Dharmakaya literally means the "body" (kaya) of the Buddha's teachings (dharma), the way of understanding and love. Before passing away, the Buddha told his disciples, "Only my physical body will pass away. My dharma body will remain with you forever." In Zen, the word has come to mean "the essence of all that exists." All phenomenaâ€”the song of a bird, the warm rays of the sun, a cup of hot teaâ€”are manifestations of the dharmakaya. We, too, are of the same nature as these wonders of the universe. We do not have to walk in space or on water to experience a miracle; the real miracle is to be awake in the present moment. Walking on the green Earth, we realize the wonder of being alive. When we make steps like this, the sun of the dharmakaya will shine.
Turning on the Water
Water flows from high mountain sources. Water runs deep in the Earth. Miraculously, water comes to us and sustains all life.
Even if we know the source of our water, we often take its appearance for granted. But water is what makes all life on Earth possible. Our bodies are more than 70 percent water. Our food can be grown and raised because of water. Water is a good friend, a bodhisattva, which nourishes the many thousands of species on Earth. Its benefits are infinite. Reciting this gatha before turning on the faucet or drinking a glass of water enables us to see the stream of fresh water in our own hearts so that we feel completely refreshed. To celebrate the gift of water is to cultivate awareness and help sustain our life and the lives of others.
Looking at Your Empty Bowl
My bowl, empty now, will soon be filled with precious food. Beings all over the Earth are struggling to live. How fortunate we are to have enough to eat.
When many people on this Earth look at an empty bowl, they know their bowl will continue to be empty for a long time. So the empty bowl is as important to honor as the full bowl. We are grateful to have food to eat, and with this gatha, we can vow to find ways to help those who are hungry.