What Is an "Earth Holder"?

Our Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has translated the name of the Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara as "Bodhisattva Protector of the Earth" or "Earth Holder", and has written about Earth Holding in his books The World We Have and Peaceful Action, Open Heart:

This Bodhisattva helps further communication between humans and other species… Earth Holder works to preserve this planet for living beings by taking care of the air, water, and soil… We have to take up the practice of Earth Holder Bodhisattva and make protecting and preserving the Earth a top priority… We cannot say that we are too busy to take up this work… We must work to increase awareness of the situation because only mindfulness, awareness of what is happening, can save us from the path of certain disaster we are currently on.

The Earth Holder Sangha

Sangha means community. The Earth Holder Sangha is is an affinity group within the Plum Village International Community of Engaged Buddhists, founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. First created in the US in 2015, the Earth Holder Sangha is guided by the engaged Buddhist ethics of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.

The purpose of the Earth Holder Sangha is to:

  • Build a community of "Plum Village Earth Holders", bringing like-minded sangha members together for support and inspiration, and to develop "Earth Holding" practices inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings
     
  • Engage in mindful Right Action, locally, nationally and internationally
     
  • Support sustainable communities, in particular Plum Village monasteries, lay practice centers and local sanghas

In the US, the Earth Holder Sangha has a newsletter and steering committee (Care Taking Council). You can subscribe to the newsletter here and read their founding document.

Interested in becoming an Earth Holder?  If you are practicing in the Plum Village tradition, and have received the 5 Mindfulness Trainings, please consider if you are ready to make the 6 Earth Holder Pledges. We'd love to have you with us.

In 2016 the Earth Holder Sangha will expand internationally. Watch this space.


The Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara is described in Chapter 25 of The Lotus Sutra, an important Mahayana Buddhist text. Dharanimdhara means "to hold, to protect, or preserve the Earth".