HomeVolume 7April 2022 Sounding hope

ALANDA GREENE celebrates the approach of Thich Nhat Hanh’s prayers to the Earth, and urges us all to do whatever little things we can to re-establish a bridge of trust with the Earth.

This January, the much-loved Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, died. His rich teaching legacy includes abundant encouragements to reconnect and care for our world. In one of many prayers to the Earth, he wrote, “You are not outside of me and I am not outside of you. … You are nothing less than myself.”

Many voices, present and past, have expressed that humans are one with creation. In recent history however, they have been little heard, inaudible in a cacophony of competing voices that have forgotten this connection, that have ignored the quiet, persistent voice that says: we are one with this Earth and all its beings.

We have become familiar with the lists of harms inflicted on the earth. The situation is dire and the testaments to a world out of balance multiply each season. A new chorus of voices claims we have passed the tipping point; global catastrophe is inevitable. Other voices hold hope, but warn that healing our planet requires urgent action.

What might effective action look like? Albert Einstein cautioned, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Something radical, maybe something basic and simple, might be the way for healing and restoration to happen. Something other than the thinking that brought us to this crisis.

Two examples come to mind:

Some years ago, high in the inland forests of a remote area in Japan, my husband and I were joined in a small 2-car train by a joyful group of elders traveling to sing to the mountain trees in autumn, enacting a long-observed ritual.

In the 1980s, 3000 beluga whales were trapped in shallow water, ice preventing them from accessing the open sea. A Russian icebreaker cleared a channel, but the whales held back until the sailors began playing music from the ship’s speakers. Trusting this sound, the whales followed the ship to safety.

These two stories suggest practices to turn us from the current trajectory. Worldwide stories of the healing power of love, song, light and prayer abound. Each of us can offer such practices to the Earth, can open our hearts and create a bridge of trust with the Earth as Thich Nhat Hanh did with his prayers, as the Japanese elders did, as the Russian sailors did. Simple, accessible, and doable actions can be potent, full of restoration and hope.


Alanda Greene

Alanda Greene

Alanda Greene lives in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. Having a deep connection with nature, she and her husband built their house of stone and timber and a terraced garden, and integrated their life into this rural commu... Read More