Sunday, November 15, 2009

Three prostrations

Thic Nhat Hanh

We surrender our so-called self to the stream of life and look deeply into our nature of interbeing. Every evening in my hermitage in France, before practising sitting meditation, I practice these three prostrations.

The first prostration: Touching the earth, I connect with the ancestors and descendents of both my spiritual and my blood families. My spiritual ancestors include, among others, my own spiritual teachers, still alive or already dead. They are present in me because they have transmitted some seeds of peace, wisdom, love and happiness. They have opened up in me my resource of understanding and compassion.
When I look at my spiritual ancestors, I see those who are perfect in the practice of the precepts, understanding, compassion and those who are still imperfect.

The second prostration: Touching the earth, I connect with all the people and all species that are alive at this moment in this world with me. I am one with the wonderful pattern of life that radiates out in all directions.
I see the close connection between myself and others, how we share happiness and suffering. I am one with those who are born disabled or who have become disabled because of war, accidents or illness. I am one with those who are caught in a situation of war or oppression. I am one with those who find no happiness in family life.

The Third prostration: Touching the earth, I let go of my idea that I am this body and my life span is limited. I see that this body, made of four elements, is not really "me" and I am not limited by this body. I am part of a stream of life of spiritual and blood ancestors that for thousands of years has been flowing into the present and flows on for thousands of years into the future.

The third prostration is represented by a circle embracing the vertical and horizontal lines of the first two prostrations. This practice is significant because it removes the idea that this body is "me" and this life span is "my life span". (Edited extracts from the author's book, `Teachings of Love')

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