Tree visualization – tree guidance

This Soul Food Café visualization leads the reader to a vast oak tree in the grounds of an abbey.  ‘You sit under the shade thinking about the knowledge of this ancient creature. You rise and embrace her again… this time asking for directions and guidance…..’

When I read this I was transported back to the time when I sat under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, India.  This tree is a descendant of the tree Buddha sat under when he became enlightened.  Bodh Gaya is the place in the northern India where the event took place. The original tree grew for centuries then, when Buddhism was on the wane in India, a branch was taken to Sri Lanka and grafted onto a tree there.  Many centuries later a branch of the Sri Lankan tree was taken to India and grafted onto a sapling.  This tree has thrived and is now centuries old.

It was in the early 1970s when I went to Bodh Gaya.  Not many westerners made the pilgrimage then and the journey up country was arduous and convoluted.  I travelled with a very unusual and very determined American boy who continued to continue with the pilgrimage long after others would have given up.

Recently I had a fit of nostalgia and looked up Bodh Gaya on the Internet.  I was amazed to discover it is now a major Buddhist pilgrimage destination.  I remember only two temples at the site; the main Mahabodhi Temple and a smaller Tibetan Buddhist temple.  Now apparently there are also Thai, Japanese, Burmese and Bhutanese Buddhist temples at the site.  Thousands of international pilgrims make the journey every year.  The route is sign posted and is far more accessible.

When I visited the site with the young American pilgrim we were the only people at the Mahabodhi temple.   While my American friend explored thoroughly I contented myself with standing in front of the vast stone Buddha in the main room of the temple.  Feeling ill from the journey and the heat I then went outside and lay down under the Bodhi tree.  While I certainly didn’t become enlightened I fell into a strange trance like sleep where I felt myself to be hovering in the sanctified atmosphere.   The mysteries of Buddha’s enlightenment and the history of Bodhi tree surrounded me but in my mind there was a shimmering, a vibrating, a pulsating that made no rational sense.

When the American boy returned I attempted to tell him of my experience but it did not tally with the notes in his guide book.  It did not fit within his train timetables and list of must see places.  ‘Come,’ he said looking at me as if he doubted my sanity.  ‘We must go to the Tibetan temple now.’   I followed him and obediently turned the vast cylinder that represented the Wheel of Life outside the temple, my head still filled with the strange buzzing vibrating.  ‘Its lack of sleep,’ said the American boy.

I’m not one for crowds and so doubt I will ever return to Bodh Gaya.  Now, it seems, my pilgrimage to the tree is an inner one.  Now, it seems, I have finally reached the stage in my life where I must sit and ask for directions and guidance.  There is no bold American boy to lead me on through the difficult terrain.  There are no sign posts to guide my way.  In fact there seems no way at all to follow.  My options are extremely limited.  There is no place to run to, no instant solution to grab hold of.  There is only this, this sitting.

As I sit  in this place where it seems there are no options left me, no path to follow, I become aware of something I had not suspected before.  It is here, in the sitting, that a space opens up.  It is not a path.  It is not time for new venturing yet.  It is a place, a space, a being-ness, an intimation of  the essence of things.  Strangely,  the sensation is not unlike that buzzing vibration I felt at Bodh Gaya all those years ago.  The word Viriditas comes into my mind.  Here is this sitting place that gives of itself to me I experience a greening, vibrating healing vitality.

The Web of Life

The Web of Life

The way forward does not reveal itself to me.  My options have not expanded appreciably yet I feel I have received a gift.

It is time to make medicine pouches.


7 responses

  1. Excellent. I too endured a long, long, long time of sitting. Nothing in, nothing out. No expansion, no opportunities, no nothing. Though the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, at some point, apparently, we are required to sit. And sit. And sit.

    Allow it.

    Wonderful writing. I enjoyed it very much. You tell a good story.


  2. What a wonderful journey Suzanne. I made my pilgrimage to Delphi to sip of the waters of Castalia. Maybe I will return. Perhaps one day! But most certainly not amid crowds of people.

  3. beautifully expressed. Our pilgrimages during our younger years provide much for us to muse over in our older years… and perhaps gain even more from in the musing and the maturity.

  4. this is so beautifully written, the experience tangible, your presence felt – wonderful ….. i find it difficult to “just be” as the sitting teaches … aren’t we meant to “do” 😉

  5. The silence really heightens our senses and I’m not necessarily referring to the physical ones. It’s in that quiet space that the really incredible things happen.

    Your written expression is simply beautiful.

  6. i like your depiction on the one that does not see, and yet wanders everywhere, the American.

  7. What a wonderful journey to have taken when you were young. Sitting is good too – and silence. There is so much noise most of the time. I really enjoy the very early morning before the noises start. Just me and the birds. Enjoy your sitting time 🙂

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