Tree Protection – Re Publish

2020 February 18th. One of our trees blew over last night. Always sad when one goes horizontal.

This lunchtime I went out for a walk to stretch my legs. In the fields around the monastery there have been thousands upon thousands of trees planted over the past thirty or more years. Each year more young and tender/vulnerable trees are planted. How they need protection too. From the high winds and from the animals, mostly rabbits, who eat them. There are special plastic tubes that slip over the young single stem whips, as they are called. Then around the tube is a chicken wire tube for extra protection. I could not help but notice the care and attention that has gone into making sure the rabbits are not able to make a break in. Guarding the trees as they grow strong enough to fend for themselves has become an art. Large rocks cover gaps between the chicken wire and the uneven ground they rest on. And I see a square of cardboard slotted around the tree inside the plastic guard to inhibit vegetation growth close to the treelet! We want these trees to survive and the majority do.

There is a link in my mind to what is happening here in the monastery this week. New Baby Buddhas protected by their fresh new promise to keep the Precepts and follow where they lead in life. Tender flowers and we do everything to guide people in what is perhaps the most important journey of their lives. Inwards. The journey had no beginning and has no end yet taking the formal step to commit to religious practice is not nothing. No vow or promise is taken lightly. However, there is much that comes into one’s life to cause one to fall over. And much that weighs one down, causing the picking up of the practice again hard. Really hard.

A ceremony which happened the other night is especially significant. It reflects the need to recognize at all times when one has acted in ways which takes one away from ones own good intentions. Mistakes. Recognize AND accept mistakes – that’s what causes one not to be weighed down by all the self-recriminations, guilt or denial. Acceptance is like the care we take to protect the young tender trees. The wind blows, snow comes in the winter and we get nibbled at from time to time (Oh and we nibble on others too don’t forget!) Recognizing our vulnerability, taking care to take care of ourselves is paramount. During the long and slow procession in dim light which is at the start of the ceremony, there is a chant. Hail Shakyamuni Buddha. Over and over and over again. Hail Shakyamuni Buddha. Over and over and over again.

Just sometimes, when in extremity or not, all that is left to us is to look up. The chant and the ceremony is about looking up in darkness. Faith.

There are no articles of faith in Buddhism, and trust can be used in place of faith. But faith in….what? Trust what? Hail Shakyamuni Buddha. Always we are on Vulture Peak listening to the Buddha.

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7 thoughts on “Tree Protection – Re Publish”

  1. That was an interesting link, I hope this furthers it.

    Kev and myself tried to grow Ginkgo trees from some seeds I had bought and shared with him. The instructions said the seed must be places in soil and put in a dark container in the fridge. After a few months, they may start to germinate when removed. Sadly, for both of us, no joy. I wonder is it a difficult thing to maintain and culture after the ceremony for some.

    The Ginkgo tree is one that always intrigued me. One grew out side my house in London for the 30 years I was there. It was a very hardy tree, surviving me reversing into it with my first car on many occasions, a couple of car crashes and a motorbike crash. Yet every year it would burst back into leaf.

    The Ginkgo is a very special tree, it has survived the worst a man could do to any living thing in 1945. Many of the surviving trees are cared for by monasteries and the buildings have been known to be built around them as they grow.

    The Ginkgo is one of our “living fossils”. It has been around for years.

    Simple in its form yet full of wisdom. It is one of my favourite trees, even when young, I knew there was something special about it. No matter how we treated it, car fumes, war and impacts it would still grow upright and strong.

    I guess this is perhaps part of the blueprint of life. Over complication can bring on an unnecessary burden in our search for our own peace, it seems though our peace comes from our ability to be able to stand tall in adversity and shelter those who may find it a little harder. Something you may not know you are doing. I look at my self in the mirror, I see the scars of life, I see the scar of the surgeons knife, the scar covering my fractured skull and the one where I caught my nose on a washing line jumping off a coal bunker in Lerwick. I also see the effect gravity is having on my skin and of course sunlight, wind, ice and rain. Just beyond that I can see a happy smiling man. Which of course makes me smile. I wonder if the smiling, happy man is sheltering those around him from some of the horrors his eyes have seen and his body has felt.

    Sadly, although popular in the gardens, the Ginkgo is struggling in the wild. With cultivation, male trees are favoured as the female trees give off an aura that can twist a nose. We need to get the female trees back in abundance.

    Thank you for reading this far :-) and I have added a link here – – to those Bearers of Hope.

  2. Thanks so much Keith. Wonderful stories and wonderful link too. I love the Ginkgo too. When in Taiwan I was up in the mountains in a national park. There I walked through what seemed like a whole forest of this tree.

    But my first introduction to the Ginkgo was when a young man appeared at the door of Reading Priory one Sunday morning with a fledgling tree in his arms. He’d decided this was where his tree was going to live. And indeed, it lives on there to this day. Nothing huge you understand. And as it happens that young man, now a few years older is a regular reader here.

  3. I love your expression “fledgling tree.” To an amateur ornithologist and botanist it says a lot.

    The Jukai ceremony you refer to is the one that stands out most clearly in my memory of taking the precepts at Shasta in 2001. This memory is an often needed reminder to protect and nurture ones practice, picking it up again and again and again; going on, always going on.


  4. Glad you saw which ceremony I was talking about Doris. My Jukai is still fresh in my memory which was back in 1979. Practice, yes picking it up and picking it up – constantly.

    My walk up on the moors this afternoon brought me to see just how valuable and tender our fledgling trees actually are. Out here in Northumberland it is one of the more remote areas of Britain. I find myself amazed and grateful to have the strength and opportunity to walk these hills and moors. Lots of lambs in the fields too.

  5. Thank you all. A part of my own experience is that when I leave off (pun approaching, maybe) from deprecating this little being for past or persistent mistakes, after some time the mistake habit seems to just sort of dry up and fall off, and then there seems a bit of room for new growth.
    A winery, where I was gardener, had a huge female Ginko, when the tree flowered and fruit formed many different types of Asian people came in huge numbers for several weeks to gather the nuts. Very good stomach medicine when they are pan toasted or lightly browned. The Ginko is the only tree I know of where every part of it is medicinal; bark root, flower, fruit, seed and leaves. What a tree. Yay! Ginko!!
    Just like the six senses are medicinal in training. Or like medicine if taken in the wrong amount, poisonous.
    Oh, and the original point I wanted to make. I have faith. Experientially based faith that tomorrow the Sun will rise. It may be obscured for a variety of reasons, but I “know” its there.
    I’m sure I’m crashing logic rules, and…

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