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Thursday, August 5, 2010: The Tree of Eternity

This is a subject Dr. V.G. Kulkarni brought up during one of his retreat. I am still fascinated by the Tree of Eternity. From the Katha Upanishad..........

                The Tree of Eternity has its roots above

                And its branches on earth below.

                Its pure root is Brahman the immortal

                From whom all the worlds draw their life, and whom

                None can transcend. For this Self is supreme!

        The Upanishads are some of the oldest religious writings known to humanity, so when I see a symbol that has been successfully used for thousands of years, I figure it must ring true on many different levels. V.G. wants us to visualize an upside-down tree, and this raises initial questions from the group. If the roots spread outward into the heavens, then one person asks if the leaves are buried in dirt. "No dirt," says V.G.. We are to think of the tree as being suspended. The branches and leaves make up the physical universe, we travel up the trunk of the tree to reach the divine.

          V.G. talks about reaching toward the seed, which is Brahman, that from which all creation sprang, but my mind races. We often think of the divine as something singular, like the seed perhaps. Yet, where is the seed--what remains of it--after it grows into the tree? Everything that comprised the seed becomes the tree, nothing is destroyed in the process of creation. One cannot separate part of the structure and say "This is God." One cannot separate part and say "This is not God."

          The idea of finding the divine seed does not catch my interest. I am fascinated by the roots. Think how extensive the branches and leaves of the tree are, reaching into all the known and unknown universes. Then look at the root system -- branching out in equal fashion -- an intricate support system that nourishes the lower worlds. I find this more comforting than the idea of a single seed -- each branching root is another aspect of a support system that stretches in a multitude of directions: not a singular point of finding God, of receiving God's support, but a vast network, each connecting to the system from its own direction, each working as part of the whole for the good of the universes.

          I take comfort from the image of an upside-down tree because a spiritual path moves towards the roots. That means someday becoming part of the system that supports the rest of the lower worlds. I have never taken comfort in the idea of eternal bliss. Escaping the lower worlds to eternally rest in bliss? Turning my back once and forever on the struggles that must be endured by the rest of creation, simply because I have finally found my answers?

           I prefer this image, of someday reaching a level where I can be a different part of the divine creation, feeding and supporting the lower worlds and the whole of creation. There is no part of the tree that does not serve a function. The original seed becomes a cosmic/spiritual tree, existing as a whole. This symbol of spiritual reality continues to intrigue me for days afterwards as I probe deeper levels. To be continued.........

Posted on Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 06:31AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

Love this idea of the root system. Sometimes I tire of the spiritual quest. I don't want to examine anything anymore, especially my life. Maybe my root system is shallow.
August 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKass

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