The natural world has many lessons to teach us if we are willing to listen and learn. I have discovered that spending time outdoors with heightened awareness can bring deep insights. This kind of awareness can be cultivated but is particularly easy to do when relaxed and on vacation.
When I spend time in Hawaii, my best teachers are the banyan trees I encounter on my daily walks. I have a particular old banyan friend I have been visiting and meditating beneath for several years, but the one shown here is new to my roster of teacher trees. It spoke softly to me as I passed one day, and this is what I heard:
“Sometimes things take root and sometimes they don’t, but growth is there anyway.”
Upon hearing this in my mind, I stopped and began to study the massive tree. Its great, low branches produced a host of propagating roots about thirty feet away from the large main trunk. And so much so, those roots actually seem to be an entirely different tree, and then I heard:
“Sometimes where you begin is not where you end up.”
And this made me think that though one can root deeply in a place, a way of being, adhere to a kind of knowledge, one can use that rootedness and strength to “branch out” in a manner that eventually creates another deeply rooted way of being, a way that looks very different, yet it comes from the original source.
The “old” supports and nurtures the “new.” The “new” is an outpouring of the “old” growth and knowledge. They are intimately connected and integral to one another.
Had the “new” not rooted away from the main trunk of this tree, the “old” may not have stayed sturdy against the elements.
And now, I see that between the two – the old and the new parts of this banyan tree – is a great canopy of branches with big waxy leaves that offers shade and protection, and holds its own ecosystem of birds, insects and various beings, all of whom share the benefits of the tree’s expansion.
The banyan tree is a living metaphor for us to consider. It speaks of allowing ourselves to branch out, trusting that we have the roots of knowledge to guide us. And then to be willing to nurture tendrils of new ideas and ways of being, so that some will take root. When we will put our energy towards these new things, we will expand and grow, be stronger and offer more to others and to ourselves.