The Cosmos in the Tree as seen by Thích Nhất Hạnh


A wonderful quote by Thích Nhất Hạnh in The Art of Mindful Living provides a lovely illustration of agaya which is a new term, intended as an expression of the deep, sacred beauty of the universe.

 “Look at the tree. [It] is a wonderful thing, a tree. A tree is very beautiful. A tree to me is as beautiful as a cathedral, even more beautiful. I look[ed] into the tree and I saw the whole cosmos in it.

I saw the sunshine in the tree. Can you see the sunshine in the tree? Yes, because without the sunshine, no tree can grow.

I see a cloud in the tree. Can you see? Without a cloud, there can be no rain, no tree.

I see the earth in the tree.

I see everything in the tree.

So the tree is where everything in the cosmos comes into, and the cosmos reveals itself to me through a tree. Therefore, a tree to me is a cathedral, and I can take refuge in the tree and I can get nourished by the tree…

I can get in touch with the tree only if I go back to the present moment, because the tree can only be found in the present moment.”

Of course, agaya can take you even deeper. The elemental atoms of the tree came from the heart of an exploding star billions of years ago, so that nova is in the tree (as it is in you). The water, the carbon, everything that the tree has taken in as it grows has been cycling in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere of Earth for about four billion years. Because of the number of atoms, and how well they mix over time, it is likely that any given tree might have taken in some of Cleopatra’s bathwater, some of the calcium from a dinosaur’s bones, some of the nitrogen from the first generation of jellyfish, some of the carbon dioxide you exhaled whenever you walked past. This is how agaya transitions into ubuntu – we are all made of the same things, and as participants in Earth’s biosphere we constantly share matter and energy.

Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term (South Africa) is a term meaning a sense of community with others. Is a term that represents the connections between all things and Thích Nhất Hạnh provided a beautiful expression of Ubuntu in the following sentences:

“We are all the leaves of one tree. We are all the waves of one sea; the time has come for all to live as one”

About awakinOAK

Intentionally located in east Oakland -- to, on the one hand, overcome institutionalized violence and on the other hand, be showered by the multicultural love and wisdom from neighbors-- this small community strives for integral nonviolence and supports activities that foster fearlessness, courage, autonomy, unconditional love and compassion for all beings. Every Friday for the last 10 years, the anchors of Awakin Oakland, host "Wednesdays on Fridays", an open-house meditation night that was inspired by a family in Santa Clara who has been doing this for close to 23 years [2020] No teachers or gurus. No set agendas or proposed beliefs either. Just one strong principle -- when you change within, the world changes
This entry was posted in ahimsa, astrobiology, Awakin Oakland, fearlessness, natural philosophy, soulforce, WednesdaysOnFridays and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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