Mara is tired and cranky. The demon tempter has tried everything in his power to prevent this sitting man from attaining his goal, and now he’s finally out of tricks. In a desperate last hurrah to stop Siddhartha he sputters:

So you think you’re going to wake up, do you? Go on then, become a Buddha. Who cares? Who is here to vouch for your achievement? I demand to know, wise guy: who will be your witness?

Siddhartha—under the Bodhi tree, who at this very moment is becoming the Buddha—says nothing. In what has got to be the best possible response to Mara’s harassment (it gives me gooseflesh!), the Buddha silently reaches down and touches the earth with his fingertips.

Boom. Rivers roar, flowers bloom, and the mountains walk. The earth bears witness.

This earth-touching, enlightenment moment is celebrated now by both Buddhists and environmentalists as an indicator that ecological thinking is central to the Buddhist tradition. Over the years, Tricycle has made an effort to explore Buddhism’s relationship to the natural environment. As you prepare to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow check out some of our favorite earthy articles:

  • Allan Badiner looks the relationship between Buddhist practice and social activism in “Eco-Dharma.”
  • In his essay “Facing the Heat,” Joseph Goldstein considers the climate emergency.
  • David Rome imagines what enlightened environmentalism might look like in his article “The Green Buddha.”
  • “Mountains and waters right now are the actualization of the ancient buddha way,” says Zen Master Dogen in his incredible “Mountains and Waters Sutra.”
  • In his article “Radical Confidence,” James Thornton asks, “What’s missing from eco-activism?”
  • Susan Moon outlines some Buddhist practices to save the planet in “Stop Shopping.”
  • In “A Breath of Fresh Air,” Mark Coleman discusses seven meditations for connecting with nature.



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