Bhumisparsha (2020)

Touching the Earth

Welcome to all fellow followers and admirers of a man called Buddha and his teachings, and also to those who simply have some curiosity about him.

Welcome to this cyber-gathering that is dedicated to remembering the Buddha and his teachings.

We human beings are a mixed bag. We’re considered intelligent and have achieved so much – sometimes too much! But we’ve also ruined our habitat and our children’s inheritance, and we continue to do so.

This mixed bag and our paradoxical human nature often seem to arise because we get confused between what seems to make us happy and what is actually beneficial.

Though kind, good thoughts sometimes seem as short-lived as a flash of lightning in the dark, all of us have them. Every time we greet someone warmly, shake their hand, offer them a meal and welcome them to the table, or even simply smile at someone, we’re manifesting our innate caring, generous, loving nature.

Yes, those simple acts may sometimes be narrow, short-sighted, and exclusive – confined just to family, friends, fellow countrymen, or people of the same colour. But there is no doubt the goodness is there in us. And we have all the potential to expand it further – much further – and to be more open, far-sighted and inclusive, if not for anyone else’s sake then at least for our own good.

Despite the media’s obsession with bad news, it’s not as if the world is only aggressive, selfish, tyrannical, stupid and distracted. In fact, we have a far greater abundance of gentle, kind, compassionate, thoughtful and dedicated actions.

Right at this very moment, I am certain there are hundreds of thousands if not millions doing something good out of the kindness of their hearts – saving a life, feeding a stranger, giving a seat on a bus to a disabled or elderly person, foregoing your favourite cappuccino to contribute to an effort to save an endangered species….

Even a fleeting, mundane feeling of empathy for someone else’s pain may not seem like a big deal. But we don’t realize that’s what actually runs the world. Without that basic kindness and empathy at the very core of our nature, we couldn’t even live together.

I know there are many people, including too many politicians and business people, who act as if they don’t give a damn about the wellbeing of the earth and its inhabitants. But don’t we also know about all the nurses and doctors who have been bravely putting their lives on the line every day these past months?

Goodness exists. Kindness exists. And being good and kind is not being weak. As we’ve witnessed, the opposite is true!

The Buddha taught and proved that, no matter how we feel and act now, goodness and kindness can be learned and can become habitual. On this planet earth, there have been so many great models of goodness and kindness, both in the past and in the present, and I have no doubt there will continue to be in the future.

Because we are social creatures, we are deeply influenced by those past and present actions and by others. We hold onto those influences, and they create our values and our beliefs. This is good news, because it means we can affect the future by what we do now.

And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do here – to remind ourselves of something that can actually change the course of the world.

Yes, scientists, medical researchers, business people, political leaders and social activists will keep on seeking solutions to our problems. We must wish that they do find good solutions, like a good, safe vaccine to prevent coronavirus for example, and they often do.

But that doesn’t mean we leave all the important work and solutions to the professionals while we ordinary folk just sit there doing nothing. In fact, we are not so ordinary, and we have equal if not greater capacity to help – simply because our hearts are kind and open, and because we have the deep aspiration to bring goodness, peace and harmony to the world.

We all know that when professionals, leaders and business people don’t hold that heartfelt wish as their basic motivation, they often create more harm than good, no matter how technically proficient or powerful they are. This is where we are so fortunate to be guided by the wisdom and skilful means of countless great masters of the past who have shown and proved extraordinary solutions that provide genuine benefit to so many beings.

Yes, human beings have discovered antibiotics and put a man on the moon. But despite those marvels, we’ve also learned that when push comes to shove and when danger comes at us from all directions, the basic solution comes down to something as simple as washing our hands.

But there is a solution even simpler, more basic, and much more powerful than that – which is what Gautama Shakyamuni taught us 2,600 years ago, and which has been passed on in unbroken lineage ever since. That is simply to turn inward, to be mindful, and to remember that we naturally have kindness, compassion, and a fully awakened state of mind.

That’s the great gift and inheritance of Buddha Shakyamuni. Indeed, we have great leaders going all the way back to Emperor Ashoka who have taken the wakefulness, love and compassion they learned from the Buddha and put it into action – politically, socially, economically and even technologically. This has happened. We can do it.

So it’s to celebrate, nurture and hype this gift and its tremendous potential for the world at this crucial time, that a group of us are launching this endeavour to recite the name of Shakyamuni Buddha – the one who fully embodies wisdom, love, compassion, and complete openness. The world needs this now.

So let us recite the Buddha’s name. Let us sing his name. Let us dance his name. And let us praise, honour and hail his name.

It’s because we are social creatures driven by others’ influence that we need models and examples of the qualities to which we aspire and which can help the world. So, recalling and invoking the great sages of the past encourages us to lean towards and emulate their example.

As human beings we are prone to having goals. So even though there is absolutely no difference between a single mantra and a million mantras, we are aiming here to complete one hundred million Shakyamuni mantras by the end of 2020, starting from 24th July, which is an auspicious Dharma Wheel Day.

And here we don’t dismiss any way you recite the Buddha’s name. Indeed, we value and celebrate just the fact that you are sacrificing your time and energy to do this. And so, we will cherish and venerate every single mantra you do whether while walking, watching TV, window shopping, or sitting on a meditation cushion in a very serene temple on a mountain.

If you find it helpful, you can do the recitations within the visualizations given in the sadhana we’re providing here. We’re also providing here several tunes you can use if you sometimes wish to sing the mantra, and we welcome you making your own mantra melodies and sending those to us. If you want, you can take a whole week or month to complete the whole sadhana, and simply keep coming back regularly to one or more of the visualizations that you might find useful aids for chanting. Or you can just chant with no sadhana or visualization. Whatever works for you.

All we suggest is that, whenever you can, please remember to think that we are doing this for the earth, for humanity, for animals, and for all sentient beings – not just so they will feel happy but so they will be awakened to a state that truly benefits them.

As we overcome our present afflictions, make progress, become more comfortable and feel better than many now do, we won’t become complacent. Instead, we’ll have a feeling of real contentment and at the same time we’ll keep chanting for true peace and harmony on this earth. And we’ll pray that all its inhabitants not only feel temporarily comfortable and happy but awaken to a state that will bring genuine and lasting benefit.

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse