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A little (true) story.

December 13, 2011

Several years ago I was living in a small back room outside an old wooden house in a suburb full of beautiful gardens and friendly people. My room was long and thin, with wooden floorboards and windows all down one side, glass french doors that opened up outside the house, onto an old back veranda and garden, overhung with star Jasmine that dropped flowers everywhere and left me perpetually relaxed. -(Jasmine oil stimulates the production and release of the nueropeptide GABA) I always slept with the doors and windows open, it was so beautiful in the rain and mornings!

On monday evenings I would finish my studies for the day at around four, and head down to the local community garden centre to help my friends cook (a by donation) dinner for the local community. This monday I was feeling a bit anxious for some reason, so after helping cook -(I made a mulberry salad with three different kinds of mulberry!!) sat down by myself inside and tried to avoid conversation. Eventually, as was always the case back then, I was drawn into one, it was a hot summer night, warm air and very still, so it was agreed that a group of us would head down the beach after dinner had worn off, and have a good long swim. Seemed like a good idea to me as it was very warm, and my mind was unusually anxious.

An old friend of mine was in town and had come down to have dinner at the garden, having not seen each other for a long time we decided to head out into the town to have a game of pool, it was the first time I had set foot in a pub for many years, and a bit surreal to be there, hippified as I was at that time. Nonetheless we had a great time, caught up properly after many years, and had some really deep and meaningful manly conversations about life.

Time flew by, and the next thing I knew I was making my excuses and heading off, it took me quite a while to get to the beach from where I was, being on foot, and of course by this time anyone who had gone down earlier had left to get some sleep like any sensible person would.

I wanted to swim, but it was getting late and cold, so I sat on the beach, looking out over the ocean and meditated for an hour or so, in case anyone came and to calm down the rather novel and unexpected sense of anxiety I had been feeling that evening. After an hour or so, I managed to separate my legs, and as the sensation returned to them, stood, did a little yoga, and began to head for home. Being a strange boy, (hehe) I decided to take a run rather than walk, hoping that burning excess energy would be the panacea for my mind, and so I ran and ran and ran, the streets and trees disappearing behind me, body settling into rhythm climbing up hills and through gateways, down small streets and past roses. It was a beautiful run, cold night air, peacefully settled into the grace of motion and freedom, euphoria.

At the top of the first hill I came to on my way home is a beautiful tree that I very occasionally visited to sit under at night, and on that night, being a little warm and puffed from my run up the hill, I luxuriated under its branches, and rested in meditation. wonderful peace,, silence and stillness. Gentle breeze from the distant ocean, night stars. Bliss.

This tree you see, is in fact a very wonderful tree. A very cosmicy tree.

Its story is as follows, the place where this tree grows is a beautiful (and at that time residential) spiritual centre, a Yoga Ashram-(place of hard work). It was founded by a very wonderful, very awakened Hindu, a Yogi, a man who lived a wonderful inspiring and very spiritualised life and who in that time was a recognised spiritual leader within the Vedanta tradition of India. When he came to Australia, many years ago, he planted this tree and another at the Ashram, one died, the other, the one I was sitting under that evening is still alive.

This story of this tree, as told to me by my friend who a few years previously had been living at the Ashram, is not very well or widely known by anyone in that town, but is very beautiful, and is as follows.

Roughly 2539 years ago in a place called Bodh Gaya, in Nepal, a man called Siddhārtha Gautama, or often the Buddha(awake one) sat down under a tree known today as the Bodhi Tree, a member of a family of fig, the Ficus Religiosia, the story is that this man was so profoundly moved by the suffering of the world, that he had given up his life of luxury and security to life as a homeless beggar for many years, seeking answers and medicine for suffering in spirituality, the story is that at this part of his journey, he had tried many things and having not found the answers he sought, determined with complete dedication to sit, under the bodhi tree, resolved to not leave until he found the enlightenment he sought.

The story is that after passing through eight Jhanas, successive stages of meditative awakening, and after many trails, Siddhartha awoke fully to the nature of reality and stood up from under the bodhi tree, to continue with life, teaching others about the insights he had gained and teaching all he met the path and techniques awaken, as he had experienced.  However, before he left, he paused to look with gratitude at the Bodhi tree, without blinking, for one week. And then spent another walking back and forth from the Bodhi Tree, codifying his teachings.

There are many other stories that explore the mythological and spiritual significance of this tree and of these states of awareness so far beyond awakening, but there is not point sharing them, needless to say, it’s a wonderful tree.

The story is that due to its significance, and that of ancient traditions far predating Siddhārtha, a cutting was taken from this trees first child, and planted 2299 years ago at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, by members of the buddhas retinue and the royal family of Sri Lanka.

The story is, that the original Bodhi tree, at Bodh Gaya, was destroyed during a holy war between Hindu and Muslim armies, however, although dead, the bodhi tree had a child, and a cutting taken as related above.

The story is, as I heard it, that a small number of other cuttings were taken from the Bodhi growing in Sri Lanka, and that these cuttings were planted at different monastic and ashram locations around India. And finally the story is that two cuttings were taken from one of these trees, and planted at the ashram I sat in that evening, by the Yogi who helped found it. Being a species of tree sacred to Jain, Hindu and Buddhist alike.

This is very beautiful, this tree is the genetically identical tree to this ancient one, literally the same organism. However unlike the varied other places in the world that may grow, here it is possible to sit under it at night alone and in peace, and there are no other pilgrims.

That evening, meditating under the bodhi tree, with a little rabbit hopping around keeping me company, I opened my eyes to a light breeze and stars, and saw an amazing sight, a leaf from the bodhi  tree was dancing above the ground perhaps a meter away from where I sat, after a while my mind re-engaged and I realised that this was perhaps a little strange, upon closer examination I observed that the leaf was suspended above the ground, only inches away from it, by a single fine silk thread. It has disengaged from the tree itself, but by virtue of a spider had not fallen completely to the ground. It was literally, hanging on by a thread!

I held the leaf in my hand, and it fell away from the thread. A very strange and beautiful thing had happened, I had caught a leaf that had fallen from the Bodhi Tree.

There is another ancient story that if you catch a leaf that falls from the Bodhi tree, not a Ficus Religiosa, but the actual Bodhi Tree, then you get to make a wish, and that in turn, the wish that is made will come true.

It was a special moment, for that to happen so many different things had to occur throughout so many lives, on different continents at different times.

And really it was all thanks to a spider. So I thought very carefully and slowly about what wish to make, the chance of this happening again was so astronomically small that for it to even happen once, for me to know the story, to know the tree, to be alive at all, to be there at the right time. On top of a hill in Australia, one summer night, where a yogi from India had planted an ancient sacred tree many years ago.

In the end I wished for peace and for full spiritual awakening and liberation for all beings in all worlds.

So, rest easy, the world has in fact been saved 🙂 we can all get on with just being, and, I have the leaf to prove it. -(although in hindsight, specifying a date may have helped)



One Comment
  1. What an INCREDIBLE story. You have a powerful voice, young man. Your writings are thoughtful, thought provoking and the world could use more of them. I notice the writing is sporadic, but that you recently did post something this past month. I will be praying that I will be seeing more of your work. Soon. In fact, I am going to FOLLOW you, so I don’t miss any. Maybe it will encourage you to write some more, because if you do, I would be honored to talk about you on my space. I have only been writing since December, but it has taken hold of me in a way none of the other spiritual assignments I have been given have. And all of this is because I happened to glance at the similar articles list that pops up when I am writing my articles. I was drawn to ‘click’ and I am so glad I did. Namaste.(bowing, hands folded in prayer at heart).

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