Tree Sons

(Image from Kaui Hindu Monastery)

(Image from Kaui Hindu Monastery)

Many people roll their eyes at the thought of somebody being a “tree hugger.” The implications and mental images that usually accompany that title are potentially of a sloppy person, a bit whimsical and carefree (careless?), perhaps anti-establishment. It’s a label that’s been around for decades and, as with everything else through the decades, the definition of what a tree hugger today is has probably changed from the original meaning. I suppose in a lot of ways, I could be called a tree hugger. Don’t get me wrong – in so very many ways I’m not even close to what “tree hugger” probably originally meant. Still in many other ways I’m very much a tree hugger, and a number of people in my life may well be able to vouche that I’ve literally hugged a tree once or twice. From a young age, others will also be able to confirm, I’ve enjoyed being in “the woods” and going rivering and traipsing through creeks and just being completely enveloped by Mother in nature. I think it’s something most people never experience, but I can attest that trees give great hugs if you allow.

I’m not a hippie. I’m just a Hindu.

Tree hugger (hugged?) or not, one thing I am is a tree worshipper. For thousands of years Hindus have recognized the immense value of trees and have also recognized how very truly trees imitate the Supreme One – far beyond the superficial “roots in heaven” symbolism. As Hindus, we’re free to see God wherever we might be inclined to, and a number of scriptural references encourage us to see God in trees. This is something I do, and have always done, with much ease.

** An important thing for any non-Hindu readers to understand is that Hindus don’t really worship trees (or any of our other religious images). At the foundation of our religion is the Ground of All Being – the essence that supports all that is and is common to virtually everything. This is what advanced modern sciences are catching up to and proving accurate at an increasing rate. And it’s this recognition, of that Ground of All Being, that allows for the immense diversity, and consequently the expansive freedom afforded to Hindus. **

Something else I easily could manage but have yet to accomplish (at all, let alone with much ease) is parenthood. I’ve posted a few times here how important my parents are to me and what an invaluable treasure they’ve been to me and many others in this life. Anyone who knows me outside of all things cyber can attest to my strong desire to be a dad, and how envious (in a good way!) I often am of parents.

Luckily for me, there seems to be scriptural support for the fusion of these two, seemingly unrelated aspects of my life. A year or two ago, a friend on Facebook posted a quote, something from one of the myriad Hindu scriptures, that included the Sanskrit translation, and I found it striking. It truly struck a chord with me because it linked the huge benefit and value of family and parenthood to that of ecology, and quite specifically trees. Those scriptural references are cited below.

“A pond is equal to ten wells; ten ponds are equal to one lake; ten lakes are equal to one son; and ten sons are equal to one tree.” (“dashakupa-sama vaapi dashavaapi samo hrdaha dashahrda samaha putro dashaputro samo drumaha”) -Vrkshayurveda 6

“Those who plant trees, for them they are like sons. There is no doubt that because of those trees, man attains heaven after his death.” -Mahabharata, Anu parva 58/27

The photo at the end of this post is primarily of a treeling I’m nurturing in the middle of my front yardage. When we purchased the property about four summers ago, an actual tree stood where this baby one does now, although it was mostly dead. After a year or so, we came home one day to see that the HOA and landscapers had chopped the half-dead tree. A year or so later, you can imagine my thrill when, while piddling around my yard, I notice a resurrection of sorts occurring. I nursed the little bitties and helped them grow – offering not only regular watering, but also regular pujas. However, one day much to my dismay, I came home from work to see another chop job had taken place. I’ll admit: I cried. And not only that, I spent the rest of the evening melancholy and pouting indoors.

For me, things like this ARE kind of like my children and I miss the life I interacted with when something like that fails or ceases. I suppose that proves the scriptures true, no? At any rate, my treeling is growing back! I noticed it very early this spring season and I’ve been tending to it since before our final frost. To date, it’s survived and prospered even more than it did last year!

As with so much else within the Scriptures, I’m not sure I really buy that a tree is equal to ten human sons. This isn’t the first time I’ve doubted the scriptures… in fact, I do that often enough. At any rate, I do enjoy the sentiment and every day when I go outside for vrksha-puja and I notice that this treeling has split into “two” very close to the ground I smile at the thought of my twenty twin sons, and my heart enjoys the moment as a temporary expression of the love I have for the human child who is likely never to arrive in my life.

Om Shri Ganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti



Little Boy Blue, Come Blow Your Horn…

…The sheep are in the meadow! The cows are in the corn! Where’s the little boy who looks after the sheep? Under the haystack, fast asleep!

Is there anywhere, any place at all, within the Catholic Church that isn’t touched or overshadowed by pedophilia or other sexual immorality? When this institution collapses (it’s already crumbling), the face of the earth will surely change.

God on a treadmill

There are, rather sporadically, these odd experiences I have. While it’s a horrible disservice to describe it in this way, to keep it short and sweet : The back of my head opens wide, my sense of self/being expands like you wouldn’t believe, and I literally see stars (aka outer space) and I “feel” what I perceive to be everywhere and everything. There are two places this has happened: in my car and on the treadmill at the gym. Unfortunately, this creates a situation that is ridiculously “pro” my injury or death. Fortunately, I retain much awareness of the Dhrishti/Yeshua/Joshua that you all know – at least enough of that awareness to have been able to pull my car over or stop running on the treadmill.

This experience has almost happened twice in the last three days -both times on the treadmill. Both times I felt it coming on, which isn’t usual. Both times, I had been paying attention to one of the wall-mounted flat screens showing news/developments of the recent elementary school tragedy. (For the record, I’m sure many of you are about to diagnose me as epileptic or something. Please understand that what I’ve described above is NOT that.)

Anyone who knows me really well, would likely know how almost desperate I am for fatherhood. Truth be told, it’s increasingly unlikely to ever happen, and this is proving to be one pretty large pill to swallow. But whatever. Here’s the really psycho thing: I already have children. One or two I think, I’m not sure. I don’t know exactly how old they are, but I know they’re past infancy, but still pretty young. I think of them often enough, but in a fairly controlled manner because I’m easily overcome by the immense parental affection I feel. Oh yeah… They reside in my heart. I swear I could almost name them. They feel THAT intense within me. When I feel particularly loony and perhaps a touch nostalgic, I’ll consider these “children” and also my own parents and how I would do everything for my children that my parents did for my brothers and me.

And you know what? Maybe I don’t have kids in my heart. Maybe this immensely powerful “thing” within me is affection I have for my parents and my desire to be as kick-ass as they are. I’m aware that I have received, and continue to receive, so much more than I deserve through the force in my life that my parents have been … perhaps this is simply a natural ebb and flow… I’m feeling a desire to give back that which has made my life everything it is: my experience with parenthood.

Oh gods, I’m a basket case.

Anyroad (as my bhai, Forrest, is fond of saying), all of that was meant to lead into other nonsense, which I’ll try to get to right now.

So I’m running my legs off, the news shows the faces of the very young lives that were ended, and suddenly God shows up on the treadmill with me. <sigh> Even remembering this brings a too-big lump into my throat. I really don’t have words for how I feel about this particular shooting. What I do have words for is the stupid American idea that gun ownership is the only way to be safe and because it’s a Right, must be exercised in all possible ways.

Allow me to just say: It might be your right to have 27 children, and no one can tell you you’re not allowed to. But that doesn’t mean it’s smart of reasonable to do so. People, it’s the same with guns. A Facebook friend of mine, recently posted a pretty lengthy status update, which I thought to share with you dear readers. I’ll admit that what I’m sharing here is a direct quote, but with parts omitted. I promise I havent sewn any sentence fragments together to support my ideas, but some of what she said hollers back to our own days as children, and I found some of that to be less applicable. (I’ve taken a personal vow that, for as long as I continue to age, I’ll never refer back to my youth as anything golden or sublime or “the way things ought to be,” and instead will do my best to accept and understand each successive generation for its own inherent value and capability to grow into the times.)

So, without further delay, read the following quotations. Read them with your eyes.

“When I was in school, all we feared, were tornadoes.  And, we were prepared, we practiced crouching in hallways, closets, and bathrooms with our biggest textbooks over our brainstem.  We were prepared. Never, ever, ever did the thought of a human wielding a gun barging into our school and hunting us down, never did that thought cross our minds.

“Something has changed, something in our society, that is turning us against each other.

“Gun Laws, yes they need changed.  But not because of Newtown, Connecticut, but also because of Columbine, because of Virginia Tech, because of the mall in Portland, Oregon, because of Aurora, Colorado.  Because of all of the mass shootings that are unfortunately defining this century.

“I don’t deny any human the right to own a firearm, but let’s look at regulation.  Why should a citizen be able to own higher powered weapons than the average police officer carries with them?  What is an officer responding to an emergency call able to do when they are face to face with semi automatic weapons and huge caches of ammunition?  The laws need to restrict one is able to own.  These weapons that discharge so quickly don’t give an armed officer a chance to help the victims.

“Also, the process for firearm ownership needs to change.  In order to adopt a child, or a pet, there are forms, documents, and even home visits.  Background checks and a waiting period.  These steps need to occur, plus multiple communications between the buyer and the seller, and possibly even psychological exams.  Lets make firearms accessible only with a file of information compiled to help understand the person whom is shopping.  Also, I think there needs to be ways to ensure firearm buyers have locked cabinets, to cut down on the stealing of weapons.  We need to hold the same responsibility for having a weapon, it may not be a human or animal, but it has the capability to take the life of a living being, and needs to be regulated.

“How to regulate, is the hardest question.  But, it is also the most obvious answer.  How do we stop these many mass killings?  KNOW the people whom are buying guns, large amounts of ammo, and other weaponry.

“In addition, health care NEEDS to be accessible for all.  We need mental health care to be as important as a yearly check up with your physician.  If every person had a yearly or twice yearly appointment for a mental health evaluation, along with their other annual appointments, possibly some of the issues that hide beneath the surface could be found sooner, and helped before they become the hot boiling lava that spills out into the world as anger, pain, and hurting others.  If we all were evaluated once or twice a year the stigma would be removed from mental health care, we would all seek the help we need once and again, and all live healthier lives.

“This event isn’t the ONLY reason to look at firearm regulation, mental health care accessibility, and societal norms… but let’s make it the LAST reason. Let’s find ways to help those whom hurt inside, those who hide anger and fear, those who pose danger to themselves or others.  Let’s find a way to help the individuals, and prevent the loss of another innocent life.”

To be clear, I’m about as against guns as a person could be. I realize that my way isn’t the only valid way, but we’re no longer ruled in the same way that the Wild West was and guns, like some heavier drugs, give people lots of notions and confidence that aren’t natural or realistic. I have my own hesitations in life, but I refuse to fill my own heart with fear-based nonsense and then create for myself a false sense of some kind of safety net.

What’re your thoughts on this? Do tell.