Trees are amazing beings. Big trees convey something to us. They are an inevitable part of the Earth, the Gaia. Green is sacred in many religions. It is the color of earth, the color of life. The trees and earth have a special place in Buddhism too. The Buddha became enlightened, while meditating under the famous Bo-tree, also known as the Bodhi tree, at Bodhgaya, India. This tree belongs to the family of Banyan trees. Thousands of Buddhists consider this tree very sacred and they assemble near it just to touch or see the tree. This tree must have something very special about it. An intangible air of sacredness prevails near this great Banyan tree in India.
Banyan trees are natives of Indian subcontinent and they are considered very sacred by the Hindus as well. In some places, people treat all the banyan trees with the same respect as they treat the Bodhi tree with. There is a grand old tree in the National Botanic Garden near Kolkata, India. Hundreds of people visit this grand tree during their daily morning walks. If you visit it between five thirty in the morning and seven, you will find an amazing sight. You will find many people trying to touch or embrace this or other such big trees nearby, of course without trying to be visible to a curious onlooker. As you stand near this gigantic tree, you will feel humbled by its gigantic size, stature and liveliness. This grand banyan tree is almost three hundred years old!
You will feel a sort of reverence out of sheer amazement to the fact that you are in presence of someone who has been there from a time before your grandfather, great grandfather, and even before your great-great grandpa was born. Still it is so vibrant and full of life. It is a wonder in the plant kingdom. This Great Banyan Tree (Its scientific name is Ficus Benghalensis) has a place in the Guinness World Records for being the widest tree in the world in terms of the area of its canopy. Spread over 1.6 hectares (15,665 square meters), with over 3,511 prop roots, this great tree draws more visitors from across the world to the garden than its entire collection of exotic plants and shrubs from all the five continents.
The Great Banyan Tree has captured the fancy of so many artists, who have tried to paint and sculpt this ageless tree. This tree has survived two great cyclones in 1884 and 1886, when its main trunk was broken, exposing it to fungal attack. It lives in perfect vigor even without its main trunk, which decayed and had to be removed in 1925. It is amazing to see that the tree is thriving, even after its original trunk has been removed. What an amazing life force is flowing within this marvelous tree! From a distance, it looks and feels more like a forest than a single tree.
What do people gain by hugging such a great tree? If not anything, they must be feeling happy. “It gives you such a meditative experience to hug such a big tree,” one of them told me long back. In reality, hugging this great tree let them imbibe the sacred life energy that is flowing through it. Surrounded by a quiet environment among the palms, bamboo shrubs and lily ponds, this Banyan tree radiates such a peaceful air. You can almost sense it tangibly. As you let yourself be connected to the ancient Life by hugging such a big tree, you are bound to feel a tranquil joy spreading in your heart. You will feel grounded and happy for no specific reason.
Trees silently teach us many lessons on life, and they reciprocate to our feelings, always. The great old trees teach us something about our interconnectedness with all that exists. Does the big trees have a loving spirit? Are they not living amazing examples of loving kindness? They are continuously imparting oxygen, shade, fruits and shelter to so many forms of life for so many years. Are they not amazing examples of patience and endurance, quietly enduring the ravages of time, but still remaining vibrant? It was not without a reason that in many ancient civilizations people worshipped trees as great manifestations of the Divine Consciousness.
Embracing a big tree mindfully is an wonderful meditation. The ancient life that flows within it will mix with yours, to make you feel more alive and vibrant. Touch the textures of its bark as you mindfully breathe in the fresh oxygen it emits. Take a few deep breaths to feel connected with it. You will find yourself grounded in the moment. You will find that all the worries and stress drop away within minutes. Within a few days you will begin to feel your inner essence as same as that of the tree. You can do this meditation everyday to feel its power while you have your morning walk in a park or in your own garden.