Aaah, trees! Where would we be without ‘em? Not only do they provide us with timber and firewood, but while they’re living they give us food, SHADE, and provide homes for thousands of other species. Trees give us the very air we breathe, and when you know that ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ come from the same root word ‘spirere’, it comes as no surprise that trees offer a spiritual dimension to existence that is largely hidden (like their roots!).
Trees have symbolised enlightenment in every spiritual tradition – the most obvious example being Buddha’s sacred fig, the Bodhi tree that he was sitting under when he achieved enlightenment. Some say this fig had very high levels of serotonin in the fruit, and as this was all Siddharta was eating, his pineal gland (third eye) was stimulated to the point where he arrived at a place of silence, emptiness and stillness that could only be pure grace. In the Bible also, trees are seen as manifestations of divine knowledge, and are used as an analogy for God. In pre-Christian times, our ancestors knew how to worship trees, and in fact belonged to tree ‘families’ (as in ‘I am a member of the oak/willow/ash clan’). Trees have long played an important role along the songlines of our own country, with claims that aborigines could use certain gum trees like a ‘telephone,’ to help transmit psychic messages.
So there you have it… trees are symbols of enlightenment, silence, emptiness, breathing, oneness, time, the cycle of birth, death, resurrection… hidden, mysterious worlds – in the poet Rabindranath Tagore’s lovely words, “Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven” – and yet we still CUT THEM DOWN in their millions without thought, care or awareness! I console myself with the fact that one tall silent standing one can send hundreds of thousands of seed flying through the air, where at least one may land in a place where its Presence is recognised and welcomed.