Learning From Trees Part 1: Grow Like A Tree

“For a plant or stone to be natural is no problem, but for us there is some problem, indeed a big problem.  To be natural is something we must work on.”  ~Shunryu Suzuki

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”  ~Hermann Hesse

What better place is there to learn about naturalness, than nature?  Over the past year, I have spent much time contemplating nature.  Watching, listening, observing, and meditating.  I have learned a lot, but I have to admit, I am a bit jealous of the birds, moss, and trees.  What makes it so easy for them to be natural?  They don’t even have to think about it!  To say that a tree is behaving naturally is redundant.  Of course it is natural, its a tree!  But what does a tree actually do?  And how can we learn from it?

Continued Growth

The first thing, and most obvious I suppose, is that a tree grows.  And it never stops growing, even when it is old.  In the same way, we can continue to grow and develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, up to our dying day.  Not being content to stay where we are, but always deepening the roots of our understanding, and broadening the trunk of our wisdom.

Overcoming Obstacles

A tree never asks permission to grow, and as it tree grows, it can break through cement, or consume barbed wire.  Its strength lies in patience, slowness, and indifference.  A tree neither attacks obstacles, nor avoids them, but simply grows according to its nature, and if a sidewalk or a fence is destroyed in the process, so be it.

No Regrets

It is also interesting to note that while the most recent growth is nearest to the surface, and is the part of the tree that is alive, it is the growth from years past that becomes the heartwood, and holds the tree up.  It does not regret its past form, or failures from years ago, but builds on them, and uses them as a source of strength.

Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” ~Herman Hesse

 

 

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