Touching the Earth

Min Fu Teh (he, him)

Buddhist; Cisgender Gay; HIV/AIDS Public Health Advocate and Practitioner, Botanist, Spiritual Counsellor 


The ‘Tao Te Ching’ says that: 'When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready... The teacher will Disappear.' As the portraits were being taken, Min entered into conversation with the photographer and members of the project, and as the dialogues continued, it wasn’t clear if we were having a contemplative moment or a dharma sharing, or indeed a portrait taking session. Min’s focus was about being present, and in doing so, he focused our attention to the concerns that mattered, but at the same time, released us of our need to be overburdened by them. In this portrait of Min’s posture of ‘Earth Touching’, he enjoins us to overcome our fears and temptations.

Image description:

Sitting barefooted in a meditative posture of ‘Earth Touching’ where one hand rest open with palms facing upwards toward the sky whilst the other hand is pointing towards the earth, Min’s eyes (with spectacles) are wide open staring into the eyes of the viewer. He is wearing a white long sleeve shirt and khaki coloured pants against a deep green backdrop.


“When we touch the earth we become small, with the humility and simplicity of a young child. When we touch the earth we become great, like an ancient tree sending her roots deep into the earth, drinking from the source of all waters. When we touch the earth, we breathe in all the strength and stability of the earth, and breathe out our suffering — our feelings of anger, hatred, fear, inadequacy, and grief.

In gratitude, I bow to all generations of ancestors in my spirit and blood family.

I see my ancestors, whose spirit, blood, flesh, and vitality are circulating in my own veins and nourishing every cell in me. Through them I see my loved ones, parents and grandparents. I carry in me the life, the spirit, blood, experience, wisdom, happiness, and sorrow of all generations. I open my heart, flesh, and bones to receive the energy of insight, love, and experience transmitted to me by my ancestors. I know that parents always love and support their children and grandchildren, although they are not always able to express it skillfully because of difficulties they encounter. As a continuation of all my ancestors, I allow their energy to flow through me, and ask for their support, protection, and strength.

In gratitude, I bow to all generations of ancestors in my spiritual family.

I see in myself my teachers, the ones who show me the way of love and understanding, the way to breathe, smile, forgive, and live deeply in the present moment. I open my heart and my body to receive the energy of understanding, loving kindness, and protection from the Awakened Ones, their teachings, and the community of practice over many generations. I vow to practice to transform the suffering in myself and the world, and to transmit their energy to future generations of practitioners.

In gratitude, I bow to this land and all of the ancestors who made it available.

I see that I am whole, protected, and nourished by this land and all of the living beings that have been here and made life worthwhile and possible for me through all their efforts. I see myself touching my ancestors of First Nations origin who have lived on this land for such a long time and know the ways to live in peace and harmony with nature, protecting the mountains, forests, animals, vegetation, and minerals of this land. I feel the energy of this land penetrating my body and soul, supporting and accepting me. I vow to contribute my part in transforming the violence, hatred, and delusion that still lie deep in the consciousness of this society so that future generations will have more safety, joy, and peace. I ask this land for its protection and support.

In gratitude and compassion, I bow down and transmit my energy to those I love.

All the energy I have received I now want to transmit to those who’ve come before me, everyone I love, and all who have suffered and worried because of me and for my sake. I want all of them to be healthy and joyful. I pray that all ancestors in my blood and spiritual families will focus their energies toward each of them, to protect and support them. I am one with those I love.

In understanding and compassion, I bow down to reconcile myself with all those who have made me suffer.

I open my heart and send forth my energy of love and understanding to everyone who has made me suffer, to those who have destroyed much of my life and the lives of those I love. I know now that these people have themselves undergone a lot of suffering and that their hearts are overloaded with pain, anger, and hatred. I pray that they can be transformed to experience the joy of living, so that they will not continue to make themselves and others suffer. I see their suffering and do not want to hold any feelings of hatred or anger in myself toward them. I do not want them to suffer. I channel my energy of love and understanding to them and ask all my ancestors to help them.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Photographed by David Silva of Studio Commercial