#1711 - Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1711 Tuesday, February 17, 2004 Editor: Mark
"Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you -- the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air,and all green things that live.
"You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things."
Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
At the center of the sacred hoop
You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.
With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
With running eyes I must say
The tree has never bloomed
Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.
It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then
That it may leaf
And fill with singing birds!
Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.
- Black Elk
Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.
- Rabindranath Tagore
Tree of Life, Winged Discs, Omphalos, Arcs & Archetypes
Once upon a time . . .
a Thought created a Tone.
The tone created Keys of Light
The Keys of Light created Colors in Spectrum.
Sound, light, and color created patterns geometry.
The patterns set up a 'Tree of Life' for a Cycle of Time.
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
- Willa Cather (1873-1947), O Pioneers 1913
And you, how old are you?
I asked the maple tree:
While opening one hand,
- he started blushing.
- Georges Bonneau, Le Sensibilite Japonaise, 1935 Dodoitsu
A monk asked Joshu, "What is the meaning of Bodidharma's coming to China?"
Joshu said, "The oak tree in the front garden."
A monk asked Zhaozhou, "What is the living meaning of Zen?."
Zhaozhou said, "The cypress tree in the courtyard."
- Mumonkan, Case 37
Mumon's Verse for Chao-chou's Oak Tree, Case 37
Words cannot express things;
Speech does not convey the spirit.
Swayed by words, one is lost;
Blocked by phrases, one is bewildered.
- Two Zen Classics: Mumonkan & Hekiganroku, p. 110
Translated with commentaries by Katsuki Sekida
We are all leaves, flowers and fruits
On the different religion-branches
Of the birthless and deathless life-tree.
- Sri Chinmoy from Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees
The Leaf and the Tree
When will you learn, myself, to be
a dying leaf on a living tree?
Budding, swelling, growing strong,
Wearing green, but not for long,
Drawing sustenance from air,
That other leaves, and you not there,
May bud, and at the autumn's call
Wearing russet, ready to fall?
Has not this trunk a deed to do
Unguessed by small and tremulous you?
Shall not these branches in the end
To wisdom and the truth ascend?
And the great lightning plunging by
Look sidewise with a golden eye
To glimpse a tree so tall and proud
It sheds its leaves upon a cloud?
Here, I think, is the heart's grief:
The tree, no mightier than the leaf,
Makes firm its root and spreads its crown
And stands; but in the end comes down.
That airy top no boy could climb
Is trodden in a little time
By cattle on their way to drink.
The fluttering thoughts a leaf can think,
That hears the wind and waits its turn,
Have taught it all a tree can learn.
Time can make soft that iron wood.
The tallest trunk that ever stood,
In time, without a dream to keep,
Crawls in beside the root to sleep.
- Edna St Vincent Millay
Why Death is Like the Banana Tree
God wanted the first man and woman to be able to choose the kind of death they would have. One day he asked, "Would you prefer to die like the moon, or like the banana tree?" The couple did not know what it meant to die like the moon or the banana tree, so God explained, "Each month the moon dies and fades away, but it revives bit by bit to live again. When the banana tree dies, it does not come back, but it leaves behind green shoots so that its offspring can carry on in its place. You may have offspring to take your place, or you may revive each month like the moon. You choose."
The couple considered the options for some time. If they chose to be childless, they would always be restored to life, like the moon. It would be lonely, however, and they would have no one to help them with their work, no one to teach, to love, or to strive for. They told God they preferred to be fruitful like the banana tree. God granted their wish. They had many fine children and a happy life and then they died. Since then there has been much love and new life on this earth, replenishing generation after generation. But since the first couple chose, each individual's life is brief, and in the end the body withers like a banana tree.
- A Tale from Madagascar, as Retold by Erica Helm Meade
Very Tall Trees
One day I stood under a very tall tree.
The leaves were so high I could hardly see them, and I'm certain the leaves couldn't see me.
"Well," I thought, "I'd like to be higher."
So I went and got the wheelbarrow, a rickety old box, and a rubber tire.
It took a lot if thinking to get them arranged just right,
And they almost reached to the very first branch ... but not quite.
So then I got a telephone book, the watering can and a chair.
And when they were all together, I said to myself, "There."
I said to myself, with one foot in the barrow,
"I'll just climb up this tree and go visit a sparrow."
There's no trick to balancing on a rickety old box
If you know how to rick when the rickety box rocks.
If Mother could see me, I thought, on this tire,
"Why, where in the world are you going?" she'd inquire.
And I practiced my very most I-Don't-Care look
As I stood on one hand on the telephone book.
But then, when I got to the watering can,
It wasn't as easy as when I began.
I had one foot on the handle, and one on the spout,
And I wasn't afraid. I was looking about.
I waved to the birds. I breathed some air,
And I could have made it up on to the chair,
When along came the breeze,
Which tickled my knees,
And I started to sneeze,
And kerplunk! I fell down as nice as you please.
Which is what is the matter with very tall trees.
- Laura J. Bobrow
The Weeping Tree
When the wild mouths
of first love promise
the willow listens.
The earth tastes of silence
and grey swings creak
on butter-soft porches
then fall like feathers
and the willow listens.
While babies smell of jazz
their cries like small mice
in the jasmine silvered nights
and the lights surrounded by moths
whose wings flutter
uncertain on the edges of black
the willow listens.
Inside bricked rooms
when grampa lays
aside his coffee spoon
because the moon is made
of blue cheese
the willow listens.
Sides are chosen
no matter which
it's the spirit of the thing
and still the willow
with its branches bent
the tips brushing the grass
like loving brooms
As time is laid aside
like pine cones
that roll on empty roofs
over evening shutters
or morning lace
when the children say
see, see the willow tree
the willow still listens
- Kathleen Lohr