Trees A Yogic Perspective

The yogic world-view, like all human attempts to understand the world, does so using human concepts and ideas. From this perspective, trees and humans, and ultimately the entire cosmos, all come from the deific source of all being, known as Brahma, 'at one with the all'; and in his perfection he creates the endlessly branching World Tree through Nada, the pure stream of sound. The first duality that comes into existence is Shiva and Shakti, which we would call spirit and nature. Shiva represents divine intelligence, enlightened vision, and sometimes a form of wild insanity. Symbolically Shiva is portrayed as the eternally dancing deity, who dances so wildly that little drops of light fly from him to become the souls of all life forms. Shakti, the nourishing, patient, and at times terrible force of nature, catches these souls and clothes them in bodies made from the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether.

The soul particles that Shakti has caught are known as devas. They travel through a cycle of endless manifestation. Once the source has divided itself to become Shiva and Shakti, these two energies then come together to form what, from a human perspective, are the 'coarsest' type of things: planets, and all structures made of minerals, such as mountains, deserts, stone, sand; the sun and everything that contains fire, warmth, and light, lightning or magma; the atmosphere and all gaseous aspects of the universe; oceans, and all bodies of water including lakes, rivers, clouds, rain, snow and ice; and finally ether, the invisible world of ideas and formative impulses. Everything is loved and everything is sacred. Shiva and Shakti are everywhere, manifesting as different forms.

Having separated from Brahma, souls evolve as individuals in this ultimate play of energies. Yet even at the beginning there is an impulse and attempt to return to unity.

It is this endeavour by Shiva and Shakti to melt into each other and become one that brings into being the second phase of this cosmic dance. Shiva and Shakti come closer to one another and Shiva is no longer pure consciousness, but shows himself as emotions like longing, fear, sadness, happiness and desire. Shakti is no longer pure form, becoming a changing, striving and reproductive substance. Soul reaches the plant kingdom - the emotional kingdom.

Along with the famous experiments of connecting plants to lie detectors,* the phenomenal success of Bach Flower Remedies is further evidence of the sensitivity and emotional life of plants. The view of Dr Bach was that every plant, and therefore tree, strongly embodies one particular emotion. He said, for example, that the signature energy of the trembling aspen tree is great sensitivity and premonition; while the thick and dark ceiling of leaves that is the horse chestnut is the embodiment of a protective, yet also slightly oppressive form of love. The positive effects of Bach Flower Remedies experienced by countless people prove the depth of his understanding, and speak volumes for the powerful interrelationship between plants and emotions.

* A good introduction is The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird.

As people, we can also have first-hand experiences of the emotional life of plants. The mere presence of a plant or tree can strengthen or even trigger a depth of feeling, which we may not have discovered otherwise.

Above all, trees can help us to commune with the deepest levels within us, bringing us to a complete unfolding of our consciousness, which has always been the specific concern of Yoga.

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