Who can fail to appreciate the beauty of a tree? The strength of the trunk, its far-reaching branches, home to birds and bugs alike, blossoms in spring, fruits of the summer and cool shade from a scorching sun. What would the world be like without trees? And the greatest treasure of all is the human world tree, the family of souls who live upon this planet. Human beings. Souls in body-costumes so varied in colour and shape as to defy classification. Although people may try to slot us in, in some arbitrary way, the tree symbolises that we are all meant to be here just as we are – no exclusions, no aberrations, no mishaps, no change. Each one has a divine right to play its part in this great unlimited theatre called life.
Buds, leaves and branches
We are the emerging buds and leaves that stretch out into the sky. This analogy comes alive when we think of the endless variety of personalities and dispositions that greet us in a week at work. We may cluster in branches and gravitate towards ‘like minds', yet still we remain distinct, perfect in our imperfection, permitted to be as we wish. Our religious leanings or political preferences may roughly group us, but we persist in our uniqueness.
No one person is a replica of another. Even twins maintain some difference, some distance. This dance of race, religion, gender and creed is really quite wonderful. We may try to find a soul mate or a kindred spirit, yet the eternal truth remains: each one of us is unique and alone. Not lonely, but singular.
Part of the spiritual journey calls us to recognise that we are individuals in each sense of the word: special, solitary, one of a kind. This awareness will set us all free, especially when we honour our individuality, and our rights and responsibilities to be peaceful, to live in harmony, without the violence of anger or lust.
The journey also asks us to enjoy the collective – the coming together of shared values and loving intentions. This harmony concentrates goodwill and empowers action that shields us from pain and loss, and the suffering that emerges through misplaced action and bad intent. We can build a fortress of unity when we have the will to do so.
All parts of a tree are interconnected. Something that happens to one part of a tree affects the whole tree. This is why we have to take extra care about what we think and do, as each thought and action sends a ripple-like effect around the globe. If we are feeling distressed by current world news, we now know why. Each one's distress circulates in the world's atmosphere automatically. For this reason, our prayers and meditations do help alleviate distress.
We can see that the analogue of the tree exactly fits the growth and expansion of the human family, but where is God in the story of the tree of life? At its very centre, at its beginning – in its seed. The story begins and ends with the Seed. When the tree is old and decayed, God, who of Himself has no form, takes form to re-seed the exhausted tree of humanity, to remove the tangled old growth and to bring to life the sapling of new growth.
The story begins again. The actors, refreshed, return to relive the great drama of life. Life is drama and drama is life. How wonderful is this? Wisdom rests in playing the game and riding on the rails of drama with a clear head and strong heart.
History of the tree
The trunk of the tree symbolises the era of paradise, which emerges from that perfect Seed – that golden era before recorded history, when there is unity of belief, culture, language and governance; that period of perfected civilisation, when there is no difference between the theory and practice of harmonious living. People in such a time lack nothing and are totally fulfilled.
The closeness of the trunk to the seed symbolises how souls at that time embody God's qualities, living lives based on the principles of truth and wisdom. The ultimate truth that we are souls, not bodies. Such souls are memorialised in stories and legends as ‘gods' and ‘goddesses', but few any longer understand that such divine beings actually once walked upon our earth...
Implications for life
"The Supreme is looking at the sapling of the new tree. Do you consider yourself to be the new sapling? When the old tree is diseased and completely decayed, the new tree is planted by those who are the images of support. Do you consider yourself to be part of the roots, the foundation of the tree? While seeing the sinister conditions all around, the Supreme, the Seed remains merciful, working with the roots through love and co-operation to create new growth. This brings greater peace, purity and prosperity back to the human world tree."
From The Story of Immortality by Mohini Panjabi, BKIS Publications, 2008