Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Buddha And Trees II

Some of the most beautiful passages in Buddhist literature relate to trees. The Buddha said of a kindly hospitable person that he was `like a great banyan tree growing on the side of roads that welcomes weary travelers with its cool shade and soothes their tiredness' (Ja.VI,526). The Milindapanha says that the diligent disciple should try to be like a tree. `As a tree makes no distinction in the shade it gives, like this, the meditator should make no distinction between any beings, but develop love equally to thieves, murderers, enemies and to himself or herself.' (Mil.410). The general Buddhist attitude of respect for trees is expressed in these words from the Jataka. `Of the tree in whose shade one sits or lies, not a branch of it should he break, for if he did he would be a betrayer of a friend, an evil doer...of the tree in whose shade one sits or lies, not a leaf of it should he injure, for if he did he would be a betrayer of a friend, an evildoer.' (Ja.V,203). The Buddhacarita compares spiritual practice to a tree `whose fibers are patience, whose flowers are virtue, whose boughs are awareness and wisdom, which is rooted in resolution and which bears the fruit of Dhamma.' The Mahavastu says: `The meritorious person grows like a banyan tree, while the person of little merit becomes stunted like a tree planted in the roadway.' In his Bodhicariyavatara, the poet Santideva wrote of his pining for the peace of the forest life in these words: `The trees do not speak harsh words nor do they try to please by artifice. When shall I have the opportunity to dwell with those happy to live with the trees?'

15 comments:

aahaf31 said...

Hello, Mr. Dhamma. I would like to ask you a question if you don't mind. I'm doing an essay paper on the novel Baotown and I have trouble finding sources about the role of trees in Buddhism. I found a lot actually but not what I specifically need. Could you briefly explain the importance of incense trees in Buddhism? Thank you!

Hendon Harris said...

Thank you for your excellent article on the meaning of trees in Buddhism. I need your opinion on a topic I am actively pursuing. I am convinced of the importance of trees in ancient Buddhism. In early Buddhist stupas The Tree of Life was the centerpiece of the stupa. The ceilings were carved to look like "wooden rafters".
In the Bisti Badlands New Mexico there are numerous huge "petrified logs" that appeared to have been featured at one time long ago on
raised earthen platforms. In the
same Bisti area are also hundreds of rock formations that are called
"hoodoos" in North America but to
me appear to have an incredible similarity to the Chattra (Parasol)
In addition to the above there is also at least one huge phallic symbol just like the several in Arches National Park not far away. Is it possible that the Anasazi people of North America were Buddhist by faith based on the above evidence and other similar evidence found in the same
Four Corners area of the Pacific Southwest? Please read an article
I've recently posted and let me know your thoughts. Google" "Were
the Anasazi People Buddhist?".

Hendon Harris said...

Is it possible that as early Buddhism grew the veneration of trees grew to the point that rock formations were carved to resemble
trees? Here are three rock formations located in different parts of the world that I believe may have been carved to resemble trees and that I also believe are tied (connected) to ancient Vedic Buddhism.
1) Google: ""Isan Home to Ancient Dvatavati Ruins" www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/310219/isan-home-to-ancient-dvaravati-ruins
2) Google: "Bent Hoodoo by Ned"
www.flickr.com/photos/gr8sublime/8180797384/
3) Google: "Dancer's Rock 1879 Ned"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HopiPueblo.1879.ws.jpg

The last Hopi tribal image is of a
culture that had the closest ties to the now departed Anasazi people.
If not trees then what do these three images represent in ancient
Buddhism?

Hendon Harris said...

Here's a scholarly article that appears to point to pre Columbian
Buddhism influences in North America. Google: "Dimensions of Dine (Navajo) and Buddhist traditions" By Professor
Jeannie Martinez Wells Univ. of New Mexico. How could two cultures separated by the Pacific Ocean have
belief systems that are so strikingly similiar and not be directly somehow in the ancient past. This article is not the only scholarly source on this topic. When you google the page I've suggested then scroll down that page and you'll see two books written on this subject as well.

Hendon Harris said...

Even the Dalai Lama has weighted in on this topic. If you'd like to read the endorsement letter he wrote for a forward on a book on this topic read: "Navajo and Tibetan Sacred Wisdom: The Circle of the Spirit" by Peter Gold. Now if there is anyone who would qualify as an expert on the apparent cultural and religious links between these two cultures separated by thousands of miles and the Pacific Ocean it would be His
Holiness. If you do even a casual
review of these striking similarities you will be convinced
as well.

Hendon Harris said...

Hoodoos are rock formations found throughout the Pacific Southwest.
They are commonly thought to be the result of erosion but could at least some of them been "enhanced" by human hands experienced in advanced rock carving techniques? I keep encountering a particularly shaped hoodoo in the Four Corners area with such frequency that I am beginning to feel that I have potentially identified a reoccurring pre Columbian Buddhist pattern here in that area home to the now departed Anasazi culture and now home to the Hopi and Navajo tribes.
It started with a rock formation I saw in the Bangkok Post. The image
can be seen by googling: "Isan home to ancient Dvaravati ruins". This feature has been positively identified with that ancient culture in Thailand. Remarkably this same rock pattern shows up just outside the front doors of a Hopi pueblo. Google: "1879 Dancers'
Rock". You can also see this pattern reoccurring in New Mexico.
Google: "Bent Hoodoo by Ned" and "Slender Hoodoo by Ned". It also
shows up in the Fisher Towers near Moab Utah. "The Cobra Fisher Towers" There's another such image in Idaho. "Balanced Rock Buhl Idaho". Also "Bryan Mullennis image
a0146-000309".
Have you noticed that enormous "rock gardens" of highly unusual
shapes hold a special place in Native American cultures and are considered sacred places? These sites include Monument Valley, Ship
Rock, the Bisti Badlands,the De-Na-Zin wilderness, Arches National Park, the Fisher Towers and "Writing on Stone" Provincial Park
Alberta Canada ancestral home to the Blackfoot people. These special "rock gardens" may have much more to tell us about the ancient religion/s and cultures of
North America than we now know. I believe that many of these rocks were shaped to resemble trees.

Hendon Harris said...

What do you think of the huge chessboard patterns being found all over the western North American continent?
Chess and the chessboard originated in either India or China. Either way the chessboard came from Asia! Is that really a surprise?
Google: "The Homer H Dubs Priest Lake Chessboard Grid" for images and information of these ancient symbols. If anyone claims this is the work of space aliens please ask them why these space aliens chose
symbols and customs that came exclusively from Asia to construct on the North American continent?

Hendon Harris said...

I want to say a huge "Thank You" to Buddhists and anyone else for that matter who realize that trees have a purpose far larger than our mortal brain can understand. We NEED trees to live but they are being cut down at a terrifying rate which will have serious consequences. This deforestation process did not start yesterday but its gaining speed as technology improves and greedy men care less about future generations. Google:
"The Joseph de Guignes Coastal Oregon Grids" and the effects of
centuries of Chinese deforestation.
In this posting is an statement from the Dalai Lama bemoaning the current and ongoing race to deforest Tibet. Its time for the world to wake up. "Those who desire to cliff dive should have a
clear understanding of gravity!"

Hendon Harris said...

In the discussion of whether or not
there was a tie in between ancient Buddhism and the North American Anasazi people and their cultural successors the Hopi Native American culture there is another clue that involves trees or fossilized trees (petrified wood). Buddhists around the world in ancient times and up to today cherish trees and wood. Google: "Ancient Buddhist Petrified Wood" "Burmese Buddhists, too, are hoarding pieces of petrified wood because they believe some of it is from the sala tree and is therefore sacred. According to Buddhist belief: Buddha died under a sala tree." Who else venerates petrified wood? How about the Hopi people? In an Online Article titled "The Snake Dance Ceremonials at Walpi" based on two visits to Walpi Village in 1891 and 1893 to observe the Snake Dance Ceremony this is what was stated on page 50 of 135.
"They (the Hopi and observers) followed the Mi-con-in-o-vi trail half way down the mesa,(First Mesa)
to the PETRIFIED WOOD SHRINE...."
The capitals are mine. Where else might there be apparent petrified wood shrines in the Four Corners area? How about such images in the "Bisti Badlands" prominently featured on raised or carved away sandstone platforms? Google: "Exploring Around Sante Fe: Bisti Badlands II" "Bisti Badland Images" and "Dimensions of Dine (Navajo) and Buddhist Traditions". These incredible images are close to former Anasazi settlements. However
common wisdom is that this is simply a natural wilderness. I hope that observers with a Buddhist
background will look at these images and then share their thoughts on these amazing often barely supported rock formations
with a particular emphasis on the
enormous elevated petrified wood logs.

Hendon Harris said...

Western historians and other western scholars are not as open to new ideas and new evidence of ancient foreign migrations and the resulting influences that were left here as one would think. With the exception of the American continents migration throughout history is accepted as the norm. However, when it comes to the Americas ideological walls have
gone up about the issue of pre Columbian migration here particularly any migration and the
resulting influences that came from Asia and through our west coast. In case you think I am overstating this point read this online essay by Stephen Lekson renown professor from the University of Colorado: "Diffusions and Histories/ The Southwest and the World".

Hendon Harris said...

Torana is the Sanskrit name used by Buddhists and believers in other Vedic religions of ancient India to describe their religious arch. Arches play a significant role in all these religions. You can access more detailed information on the Torana on any internet search engine. There
are numerous ancient examples of this structure all over India and South East Asia.
There are also huge arches and land bridges all over the Four Corners region of the American
Pacific Southwest formerly home of the long departed Anasazi people.
Do these American arches like Delicate Arch, Anasazi Arch, Corona Arch and Rainbow Bridge have any connection to the Torana?
Rainbow Bridge is a Native American sacred location. The land under Rainbow Arch particularly so. Recently the Navajo tribe unsuccessfully sued
the U.S. government to prevent tourists from visiting there because too many of them were walking under the arch on that sacred land. Toranas are composed of three main parts and functions.
1) The top or Crown of the arch
2) The legs or arch supports and
3) The ground directly underneath the arch that serves as the foundation for the Buddha or any
other religious Vedic image to be placed there. Therefore the fact that the Navajo place such importance on the land directly
beneath their sacred arch,Rainbow
Bridge, seems to indicate that they are treating it as a Torana.
That seems to be another indication of an ancient religous connection between North America
and Vedic India.

Hendon Harris said...

Those people and institutions tasked with maintaining and telling the story of the history of the Western World and Civilization are overlooking several key facts in their presentation of that history. In the history of the last two thousand years there were Two Different Dark Ages. The first was the Dark Ages of Europe that lasted from arrroximately 300 CE to approximately 1400 CE or 1100 years. The second was the Dark Ages of China that lasted from approximately 1433 CE to approximately 1933 (500 years). The Chinese Dark Ages began at about the same time that the European Dark Ages were coming to a close.
The knowledge of this fact is extremely important to a
proper understanding of world history because in too many western minds is the belief that China has always been a third world country until just recently and that China for the very first time is beginning to see the benefits of being an advanced technological and industrialized world power. It's true that for 500
years or so China suffered greatly for its 1433 decision
to isolate itself from the rest of the world. However to
believe that ancient China prior to 1433 was a stranger to advanced technology in numerous scientific areas including world navigation, ship building, quantitative grid mapping etc is to be misinformed. The Chinese Imperial Navy was building hundreds of ocean going ships up to 400 feet in length and multiple decks high that were capable of carrying hundreds of soldiers, horses, elephants and other exotic animals back from Africa for the pleasure of the emperor. The Chinese navy and merchant marine were capable of and had the maps and equipment to sail the high seas which they did with expertise. Google: " Ancient Chinese Maritime History" "Ancient Chinese Naval History"
Their ability to transport goods (silk) and services along the Oceanic and Overland Silk Road starting in
300 BCE caused a major trade deficit in Rome and the
rest of Europe. When Wang Mang's palace (Weiyang
Palace in Chang'an, the largest palace in human history) was overran in the 1st century CE according to
Homer Dubs in The History of the Former Han Dynasty
Volume 3 there was more gold in Wang Mang's palace treasury than there was in all of Europe.
The point I am making is that China and Asia were highly advanced in every way up to 1433 when their civilization declined significantly because of the misguided domestic and foreign policy of isolationism. However,western scholars neglect to inform the world of how highly advanced China was up to that time. It's my belief that the reason this is not disclosed is so the "story" of the European "Age of Discovery" can continued to be told with a straight face. If the truth were commonly known nobody would be questioning how Hwui Shan a Buddhist monk from Gandhara (Afghanistan) could easily travel from China to Fu Sang (North American) in the 5th century CE using the North Pacific Gyre known for a long long time by the ancient Chinese as the Wei Lu Current. This conveyor
belt type oceanic current was clearly used by Asian sailors to sail to and from North America for centuries
prior to America's supposed discovery by Christopher Columbus. Google: "Wei Lu Current Joseph Needham". Why do you think that western scholars are withholding clear evidence of Pre Columbian Chinese technological advances such as ship building,
navigational tools and nautical equipment out of their
accounting of the history of the world? Could it be so they can continue to tell the "story" of westerners being
the first masters of the open ocean?

Hendon Harris said...

Because of you and your Guide to Buddhism A to Z my research is beginning to make a lot more sense. This site is dedicated to trees but you have also written on the role of fire in Buddhism. As you know I am persuaded that Buddhists from Gandhara brought Buddhism to North America in the 5th Century CE. Amongst the numerous Buddhist symbols customs and monuments I have found evidence of in North America among the Puebloan tribes of the Four Corners region there was also strong evidence of
the "sacred fire" god Agni and its use among those people in numerous ceremonies. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered by reading your article on the role or lack of the role in early Buddhism of fire.
That didn't seem to fit what I was finding until you shared that sometime around the 7th century a new
school of Buddhism called Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism was started that incorporated into their version of Buddhism some of the Vedic aspects of Hinduism that Buddha had originally rejected when
Buddhism began in the 6th century BCE. Instantly the
picture of what happened in the 5th century CE when Hwui Shan came to North America with his party of four other missionary clerics made sense. Hwui Shan and his group from Gandhara were a part of the vanguard of Vajrayana Buddhism which had incorporated many of the beliefs and rituals of Vedic Hinduism into their version of Buddhism. That is why you find the Seven Step Seven Vow Wedding Ceremony here in North America from ancient times walked clockwise around the "sacred fire". That explains the " Hopi Tibetan Prophecy" , why
the Hopi elders said "Welcome Home" to the Dalai Lama on his first trip to the United States and now why
the Hopi people are enthusiastically resettling displaced Tibetan Buddhist nationals on their reservation land here in the Four Corners as their long lost brothers. It now makes much more sense. Buddhism has the equilient of what in Christianity is called "denominations". Vajrayana Buddhism is one of
the demoninations of Buddhism. It was the demonination of Buddhism that was originally brought
to North America in the 5th Century. The proof of that
migration and those influences remain today in the Four Corners for those willing to take the time to observe.

Hendon Harris said...

I am a relative newcomer to the theory of Pre Columbian Buddhist
influences in North America. This was first reported in the West in 1763 and accepted worldwide (including Europe)for the following 75 years. I could attempt to tell you the story but that would be redundant because it has been told so well previously by Henriette Mertz"s in 1953.
Her entire book in available to be read for free on online. However, if you're pressed for time just read the chapter on Fu Sang.
www.sacred.texts.com/earth/pi/pi04.htm or google: "Pale Ink Henriette Mertz Chapter II"

Hendon Harris said...

King Ashoka of India did numerous noteworthy things during his life that have left an imprint on the world up to this very day. One of the things he did was to use Buddhist missionaries to take the faith he had embraced to remote regions of the world. The evidence of the influences of these missionaries is not commonly known or recognized. But it is amazing to even those of us (non Buddhists) who recognize these influences in foreign lands that few believe Buddhism ever reached. Google: "King Ashoka's Missionaries"