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Living Like a Tree

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013

Banyan TreeThe Venerable Metteyya, a Buddhist child of wisdom who grew up in the same village, Lumbini, Nepal, that the incarnate Buddha was born in, is only in his early twenties, but he recently gave a dharma talk well beyond his years.


In it, he compelled his audience to live like a tree. He talked of how we grow old without growing deep roots of wisdom, of understanding that death is imminent, even for the living, and how these two things are inextricably tied. He talked about how a tree has roots as reaching as their limbs, that dig deep into the soil to support the tree as it reaches toward the sun. He gently chided us, in saying that we grow up but we do not grow. We do not mature with a wisdom that fits our age. In hearing this I suppose half of developing wisdom is letting go of a rigid image of life, people, and things.


“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

In another discussion, Sufi teacher, Shaikh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyadden speaks of resting in the refreshing shade offered by the branches of a mango tree. In a story meant to teach children, he states, “If you want to attain peace, do not cut down a tree, whether it is useful to you or not. And don’t cut down a man, whether he does good deeds or bad. If, because of your pride or selfishness, you think about taking revenge or deceiving and ruining another person, or of making another man suffer in any way, that will destroy your peace. It is your own state of mind that will destroy your peace. But if you can avoid bad thoughts, then you can be happy and peaceful.”

You see, I don’t want to be out of touch with the world, and I don’t write to give people an opportunity to cut me down or to do the same to them. More importantly, I don’t want to be out of touch with myself. My views are always an expression of an expanding consciousness, one that will never stop growing. Like the branches of a tree, I discern a new reality with every mindful moment I am able to practice.

Pharma Sutra

These happen when I least expect them, like when a friend calls at 2:30am in the morning to cry on my shoulder about a love she has lost, and I can lend an ear, and my own once-broken heart ripe to remind her that we only withhold love from ourselves – no one can take it away. Her pain reminds me that we all look for love – somewhere out there – forgetting it is inexhaustible within. Her call helped me to get more in touch with my own wisdom on the subject – to voice it to her, was to voice it to myself.

They happen when a homeless man gives me something – the biggest smile I’ve seen all day, and I am reminded that I have so much to be happy for, and so much more to give.

These moments happen when I write something that is misinterpreted, or understandably, perceived through a different filter, and I am reminded not to respond from ego – not to try to convince anyone of my particular opinion in this moment in time. It is fleeting after all – both the opinion and time itself. The value is in the expression. In the contemplation that elicits whatever wisdom I can unearth from the roots I plant in meditation or stillness. We all know when we are sitting on truth. This is when we are the most quiet.


“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

What great tree hasn’t been carved into? The living trees that are razed are a garish example of a more massive scar, but what about the lover’s initials carved into an old Oak, or the limbs we cut from Linden and Sage trees to make way for a new road? The roots are deep enough to take it.

What about the trees that withstand hurricane winds? Their roots are so deep, they stand firm even as others with less strength are plucked and tossed through the air like javelins. The twisted branches of a tree that has been through weather shows its strength like a merit badge. It’s leaves will still provide shade in summer.

I haven’t pondered my own death as often as I might in order to come to terms with the cycles of samsara. But I do look at the beatings I’ve taken, like a tree, and the pains I’ve endured as life-changing. The word translates to mean, ‘(s)he flows into himself.’ Our pain molds us into an extraordinary human being.


“The upper branches spring, like a forest, from the vast body of the mother tree: most of them measure sixty paces in circumference; and they cover a space of two stadia with their shadow.” Roman Scholar Pliny

I want to rest in the deep-rooted wisdom of a Banyan tree, like the massive variety in Bangalore, characterized by aerial prop roots that grow as thick as trunks so that you can no longer tell the original tree from its spreading columns. The prop roots get so large, they can cover an entire square mile area – from one original seed. I want my wisdom to grow deep, but also wide. Like Robinson Crusoe, I will build my wisdom upon the present moment of these branches, knowing that these too, are impermanent.

An excerpt from my newly published book. . . Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body and Mind With the Art of Yoga

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao TzuParamahansa YoganandaRob Brezny,  Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.








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