After a morning of fulfilling yoga I realized I had a full day to play. I wanted to do anything fun but ended up going to my Mom’s to chop wood. Her backyard looked like a graveyard full of tree trunks chain sawed vertically exposing the inside of the tree, TREE GUTS! As long as I can remember I have had a deep respect and fascination with trees. I get lost in forests, speak to trees, and cry every time I see too many trees chopped down violently for the sake of progress.
My respect and love for trees and my task to split the freshly fallen were at odds as I turned on the gas powered machine that uses hydraulics to apply heavy weight to a tree trunk and force the split of this living organism. To deal with the massacre, I zoned out on the pattern of the tree rings, how they were formed, and how one ring represents a year in the life of a tree. One tree trunk had a deep indigo color on the left about halfway in and there were numerous rings that were afflicted by this deep indigo color. What happened to the tree on that one side for so many years that created the deep indigo color? Gus, my Mom’s boyfriend, said it must have been natural gas. I do not know much about natural gas and its effects on nature, but I was deeply absorbed in samyama, meditation and bliss, over the tree stumps. I noticed that some rings were larger than others, some had more width between each ring on the left or the right, one tree trunk even had a triangle pattern etched through the whole stump as if someone took a sharp knife and just put a light pattern into the tree over years and years of growth. There were even stumps that had little holes all together that showed that a family of slugs or some type of animal lived in that section of the tree for many years. As I parted from the graveyard with deep respect and gratitude for my grand lesson I could not help but smile and give thanks that today I decided to do manual labor and help my mother outdoors in nature.
The next day I went to my first DC Satsanga hosted by Gopi Kinnicutt and Rukmini Walker. According to the description on the DC Satsanga Facebook Page, “Sat means Truth, and Sanga is a gathering of friends… so a Sat-sanga is a gathering of friends to discuss Divine truth and support each other in our spiritual journeys.” Rukmini spoke of a story that formed a connection of the tree, jiva, and dharma.
This story begins with a deep still pond tucked away deep in the forest. Imagine you are at the edge with a collection of pebbles. Throw a pebble into the center of the pond and concentric circles will ripple out peacefully. Throw pebbles here and there with no rhyme or reason and the concentric circles will ripple into each other creating interference and no peace. These concentric circles reminded me of the tree rings. What are tree rings but concentric circles formed over a long period of time from a point of focus? A point that is jiva, “immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death” (Wikipedia). As Gopi Kinnicutt stated, “Focus is one then in harmony.” The indigo color from the tree, the holes from the animals, and the destruction of the tree’s connection to the ground are all interferences. Yet the tree grows so slow and leaves behind a documentation of its history proving that a deep inner focus and strong core, although there are many interferences, creates longevity and a model to live after. The tree is a natural guru of dharma and jiva. Dharma is the duty or innate service path of a living organism. The tree lived a long time and served the world (dharmic path) with fresh air by taking in pollutants, provding a home for animals, and now it will provide warmth in a cold winter by being consumed by a fire. This tree never thought about its dharmic path it is being dharma. The tree is a gift for us to learn how our nature is created to BE not think. Thinking and analyzing is not necessary to follow our dharmic path, it is our jiva, our immortal essence. Our dharmic path is special and unique like fingerprints and is our gift to the world. If we look close enough to nature and trees we can learn the following lessons and more:
· Adapting to interference while focusing on jiva.
· Offer what you do to something bigger than yourself.
· Expressing gratitude to all those that have shaped you in your growth by their interference.
I will leave this post with one final thought that Gopi brought to my attention that has forever shaped my concentric circles; if someone does something wrong to you, influences you, or attempts to pull you away from jiva, your dharmic path, then ask yourself, “what can I apologize for? How can I serve?”
In deep service,