Thursday, October 2, 2008

Simile of the Tree

Last morning I had a very strange dream. Or was it more like a stream of thoughts that came suddenly? Anyway, it went like this...

A tree grows because of 5 important ingredients that come together, namely the plant seed (or seedling), the soil, water, air and sunlight. Without one of these, the tree/plant would never grow. If we equate these 5 substances or things to the 5 aggregates (Sanskrit: skandas) that is supposedly to make up the "self", we can also draw to the same conclusion that if one of these aggregates are missing, then a "self" would not come into being. Rebirth would not take place. Similarly, our seed of ignorance is so thick, that even though the 5 aggregates disintegrate upon death, it "regroups" together through the forces of karma and delusion to form another being. The tree example shows clearly the dependent origination of a "being" (and in fact, any other thing or phenomenon). Hence, a tree is empty of an inherent nature, i.e. it doesnot exist by itself. It came about through factors or substances that come together.

What happens when a "being" is liberated from samsara? It means the 5 substances doesnot come together and thus, the tree doesnot grow anymore. Or, the tree is uprooted. Once separated from the soil of delusion, the tree is deprived of its nutrients and thus cannot survive any longer. The seed has been destroyed. So, where has the tree gone to? Perhaps, there is none in the first place. There was just air, water, soil, sunlight and the seed that came together, and produces a "being" or "self". But before the tree is gone, it would spread its seeds elsewhere and thus produce more trees in the future. One tree produces many, many other trees. So, even though one "being" is liberated, many more "beings" are produced, i.e. through ignorance. Therefore, samsara will never be any lesser.

After the tree is gone, where are the other 4 substances that makes it? They are still everywhere. Air, water, soil and sunlight - these continue to benefit nature and all "beings".

So, this ends my stream of thougths. By then, it must be 9 or 10am. But it is so tempting to slide back to sleep since the air is still cool after the night's heavy down pour. :)

However, I still wonder whether all these makes any sense. ???

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