Lessons From An Old Banyan Tree At The End Of 2020
The year 2020 has come to an end.
It’s been a journey of ups and downs- for all of us, I’m sure.
On a recent trip to Goa, our apartment overlooked an old banyan tree.
I stood mesmerized by the giant tree as soon as I saw it
On reading about banyan trees, I found the following information.
The national tree of India is the Banyan tree, designated formally as Ficus benghalensis. The tree is revered as sacred in Hindu philosophy. It is often a focal point of human establishment owing to its expansive form and shade provided. The tree is often symbol of the fabled ‘Kalpa Vriksha’ or the ‘Tree of Wish Fullfillment’ as it is associated with longevity and has important medicinal properties. The very size of the banyan tree makes it a habitat for a large number of creatures. For centuries the banyan tree has been a central point for the village communities of India. The banyan tree is massive not only from outside but it also sends new shoots from its roots, making the tree a tangle of branches, roots and trunks. The banyan tree towers magnificently over its neighbors and has the widest reaching roots of all known trees, covering several acres. The life of banyan tree is very long and is thought of as an immortal tree.
As I observed the tree I felt it was a universe in itself. I couldn’t resist looking at the tree, taking in minute details.
It’s bright red berries were freely available to birds/ squirrels.
The sheer size of it was astonishing.
Which was the trunk and which were the roots- I couldn’t tell.
The cacophony of the birds reached a crescendo in the evenings.
How long had this tree been around? It’s gigantic size made me feel it been around for a couple of hundreds of years.
What all had this tree withstood? And yet it stood strong and gave freely of itself.
I felt it imparted deep lessons in spirituality.
1. Providing sustenance
This tree provided sustenance to birds, bees, squirrels. It gave of itself- freely to all.
I was able to see a couple of nests too. So it was home to many.
What if each of us could provide sustenance to a few others?
What if we could deeply care and nurture others- just as the tree nurtured so many.
Surely, our world would be a better place to live in.
“Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”
― Marvin J. Ashton
I wondered how many storms this tree must have weathered. But it stood strong, majestic and unaffected.
It withstood and was resilient.
Here are a couple of definitions of resilience:
the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
Problems are a given. Change is the only certainty of life.
Yes, to be resilient- that would be a wonderful quality to have.
3. Being the wise one who silently observes
The majestic tree appeared like a universe to me. So much movement and cacophony around it- yet it just stood there and let things happen.
Like a wise, old and calm observer.
As our lives go through tumultuous changes, can we have this ability to be still and surrender?
“Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.”
― Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks
As I left Goa and bid adieu to the tree, I felt like I was leaving my grandmother- wise, loving, calm, strong.
2020 has been a tough year in many ways. It’s taught us many lessons.
I wish you peace, growth, abundance and stillness in the coming year.
And more than anything else – HOPE.
The Banyan tree is known as ‘kalpavriksha’ or wish fulfilling tree (see explanation in the first paragraph)- I wish that all your wishes are fulfilled in 2021.
May each of you along with your children, prosper.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.