Touching Earth Sangha is a spiritual practice community dedicated to awakening the clarity, joyfulness, and compassion that is our full potential as human beings. We understand that such an awakening is fundamentally nurtured by a responsible and caring way of life in harmony with all living creatures and with our life-giving natural world. And such a non-harming and compassionate way of living is also the most essential fruit of the spiritual path.
As our current society’s habits and behaviors are often dangerously far from alignment with such a path, we recognize that a genuine and relevant spiritual practice must include the courage to let go of those cultural habits that we come to see as unwholesome, and to exemplify a new and healthy way to live together lightly and peacefully on our planet. Guided by a brave and creative ethical vision, we can bring alive the truly revolutionary potential of spiritual life.
Along our path to live with less harm, and to develop and share greater joy and inspiration, we employ a number of meditational practices that help us deepen our awareness of, and appreciation for, the gift of life. The sitting practice of the Zen tradition is central for us, but we also engage with moving meditations and sound practices from a number of different traditions. Unlike many other practice communities, however, we don’t see the performance of our practices in themselves as the definning characteristic of legitimate spiritual life – instead, we focus on bringing to life the intention to free all beings from suffering in our practical daily lives, and in all our decisions, as the definning element of our spiritual path. The practices are there to deepen and clarify that process. A profound practice of compassionate responsibility is, for us, both the essential initiator of awakening life, as well as it’s most crucial expression.
Therefore, as a spiritual community (or sangha), we aim to be an example to the wider community of the possibility of simple and sustainable living in the midst of today’s world. Specifically we practice the renunciation of the habit of consumerism, use a minimum of energy, embrace a car-free way of life, enjoy foods that cause no harm to other animals or to the environment, and strive to create zero waste. Living in a way in which all people could share, and with a level of resources that the earth can actually support, has been a hallmark of the spiritual movements that came before us – we practice in the light of this vision.
Also in line with the spirit of traditional contemplative movements around the world, we offer all our programs free of charge, on a purely donation basis. We are dedicated to letting go of the fear and competition deeply embedded in the money economy, and instead embrace the trust and compassion brought forth by a gift-based economy – a movement of sharing that cultivates our capacity for mutual care, and recognizes that true balance is not maintained by the self-serving mind, but by the vastness and richness of nature.
We don’t yet have a house or land for daily communal practice, but we are interested in finding some land on which to create such a full time residential practice home (please contact us if you have any ideas!) For now we’re hosting a meditation group every Sunday at five pm at Kailash Ecovillage (4311 SE 37th Ave, Portland, OR), where we sit, practice walking meditation or some simple qigong, and have a talk. Then we make and enjoy a meal together (food is provided and is always free). We also offer occasional one day sittings, longer retreats, and several wilderness trips (our speciality) every summer. Everyone is welcome to join these events – please contact us at touchingearth (at) riseup (dot) net for the latest info on what’s going on and how to join.
Some of the Sunday gathering talks have been recorded, and can be found on archive.org at this link: Touching Earth Talks (they also include some talks given by Satya elsewhere).
Below are some links to essays by Satya -
This is the latest piece – a thorough exploration of spiritual ethics and their application in our contemporary world. It includes reflections on the ten basic Buddhist precepts, as well as a report on practicing radical simplicity today: How, Then, Shall We Live?
Here’s a short, practical essay about simple living called: The Simple Solution to the Environmental Crisis
Here’s one about how spiritual practice relates to truly responsible living – it’s called: What is Spiritual Practice For?
The next essay covers some of the same subjects as the one above, but in a little different way. It is more aimed at already committed meditation practitioners. It’s called: Renounce and Enjoy!: Toward Communities of Ahimsa
To see the Treasury of the Forest of Ancestors (a collection of traditional Zen teaching dialogues that Satya put together) use this link Treasury
Thanks for your interest!
May all beings be free and joyful!