“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axe-man who destroys it.”
― Gautama Buddha
Trees in the Buddha’s life
Three important times in the life of Siddharta Gautama (or Gautama Buddha) took place under trees.
Birth under an sala tree
Maya is often depicted holding a branch of a sala tree for support during birth. (Gautama is also believed to have been born on the day of a full moon.)
Legends say the baby began to walk seven steps forward and at each step a lotus flower appeared on the ground. Then, at the seventh step, he stopped and proclaimed himself.
Enlightenment under a pipal tree
At the age of 35, and after becoming starved and weakened following a regimen of extreme asceticism, Gautama seated himself under a pipal tree (Bodhi tree) in Bodh Gaya, India, where he vowed to sit until he had found the truth.
After 49 days of meditation he is said to have attained Enlightenment, by realizing the cause of suffering and the steps necessary to eliminate it (the “Four Noble Truths”). Through mastery of these truths, a state of supreme liberation, or Nirvana, is believed to be possible for any being.
Death and entering Nirvana in a grove of sala trees
At the age of 80, the Buddha announced that he would soon reach Parinirvana, or the final deathless state, and abandon his earthly body.
He did this in a grove of trees in Kuśināra (present-day Kushinagar, India), lying on a couch made up between 2 sala trees. It is said these trees were in bloom though it was not the flowering season, and they shed their blossoms on him as he obtained nirvana.
Druid Buddhist Resources
Zen Druidry: Living a Natural Life, With Full Awareness, paperback, April 16, 2013, by Joanna van der Hoeven. (Joanna is a former Trustee of The Druid Network, and has studied with Emma Restall Orr and OBOD.)
Buddha in the Land of the Pagans. Daniel Scharpenburg, Jun 6, 2014. Daniel’s experience at the Heartland Pagan Festival in Kansas, including synopses of his meditation workshops there.
Zen Druidry (Facebook Group)
- For 25 years a Thai Buddhist monk has ‘ordained’ trees to bring an end to deforestation and to help the environment. (2 March 2015, BBC.)
Basic Meditation Instructions from the Secular Buddhist Association.
Meditation Instruction for the Serene Reflection (Soto Zen) tradition, from the good folks at the Shasta Abbey Buddhist Monastery in Mt. Shasta, CA. (They instructed me. Link also includes videos and pod casts on meditation and more.)
Medigong – meditation timer Android application.
What are you
A Brahman saw the Buddha resting under a tree in meditation. The Brahman was impressed with the Buddha’s disposition and demeanor.
He asked, “Are you a god?”
“No, Brahman, I’m not a god.”
“Are you an angel?”
“No”, replied the Buddha.
“You must be a spirit then?”
“No, I’m not a spirit,” said the Buddha.
“Then what are you?”
Avalokiteshwara Performance – Buddha of Compassion (deaf students from China)