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Wednesday, August 11, 2010: The Tree of Life: Part Three

     The Tree of Eternity -- its multitude of leaves and branches, the balance of the whole -- fills my mind. I think about work done by chloroplasts within each leaves, and their place in a larger picture. Is part of reality to exist in only dim awareness of other leaves that make up distant parts of the tree? I wonder who ever knows the end result of work done. The fruits of labor get carried away and may have their greatest affect supporting some distant area of the tree, unseen or imagined from the point of origin.

          What of autumn in this analogy? The chloroplasts are drawn out of the leaves and into the roots, to rest until the next spring when they rush back out to start new leaves. Reincarnation is my first thought, but the yearly cycles of a tree would not match up with movements of individual chloroplasts. Nor could the rings of the tree accurately record the passing of each individual life. No, I think seasonal cycles and rings must connect to longer periods of history. Are the rings divided into Neolithic, Greco-Roman and Renaissance periods, or perhaps into nomadic, agricultural and industrial ages? I rather think the Tree of Eternity measures its time by yugas -- hundreds of thousands of years; births and deaths of universes. Think how many beginnings and endings the Tree of Eternity must have witnessed.

         I see the trunk as the history of all the years the tree has existed. As I understand it, all but the innermost layers of trunk are made of sapwood, which channels nutrients from the roots to the rest of the tree. So it is that we function now on ideas and concepts and customs established from the past, that a spiritual force works its way through that foundation. The food produced by leaves is carried back along the innermost layer of the bark. The work of leaves does not reach into the past but travels on the surface of that history, protected from the great unknown by a thick layer of bark.

          I wonder if the leaves have any awareness or say in how far their food is carried. At a certain point the root system must pull the food toward itself. I am reminded that one must reaches toward God in the beginning, and that there comes a point where the divine pulls the soul back to itself. At that point, the soul need only surrender to the pull.

         To know that I exist now within this tree -- this symbol of eternal reality -- gives deep comfort. It is always tempting to think of a spiritual journey as a linear path, reaching upward into divine reality. In a linear image, one worries about reaching in the wrong direction -- a minute miscalculation made when first setting off for a distant star could steer us far away from our final goal. With the tree analogy, I become part of a process that enters and expands in multiple directions; it is only a question of how I serve -- from the leaves or from the roots. Physical and spiritual worlds, roots and leaves, become equals connected by a mighty trunk, supported and reinforced by this bond in a united and inseparable system.

        Humanity has varying concepts of God, most of which I think of as godforms -- personalities with qualities and judgments suited to worship and devotion -- branches of a mighty tree. Leaves may only feel a connection to a particular branch. How far and distant the roots must appear, a structure so different from that which form the upper tree. Does it matter if the leaves believe in the roots, if they know from whence their nourishment comes? Does it matter if they never come to appreciate the distant effects of their work?  

         V.G.'s talk has left me with much to think about, especially if I solemnly keep to this symbol as an image of reality. I cannot exist outside the divine, the tree. That I have been aware of from any number of awareness levels. I could not exist without the continual support of the spiritual worlds. That I have never doubted. But only recently have I realized that as our awareness grows, the whole or divine also grows. How strange to realize the creator, the seed, has become its creation and that my deepest commitments may, in the smallest of ways, affect the destiny of the whole. 

Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 03:09PM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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