It seems most if not all civilizations on earth have held a metaphor of “The Tree of Life”. Here is my version:
All of us on earth live beneath a Tree of Life. It is huge, covering all of us easily and completely. Its branches are beautiful and overflowing with all the nourishment we would ever want. To make our story easy, it is an apple tree with perfect fruit easily within an arm’s reach to pick whenever we wish. It is always full and ripe; there is no season without perfect tasty apples ready for us. We all live together under this magnificent Tree of Life, and there are many types of people:
Some people enjoy their days doing whatever interests them. When they are hungry, they reach up, grab an apple, and eat it right there. They know the Tree will always be there and the fruit will always be available and their lives are complete.
Some people don’t know the tree is there (maybe this is most people). Their heads are constantly down and they eat the fruit they find on the ground. Sometimes they get a perfect ripe apple. Sometimes it may be more rotten.
Some people have crafted a basket and pick apples to put into the basket. They don’t need all of the apples now, but they accumulate them anyway for a variety of reasons:
- They may be afraid that a season of drought will occur, or
- They wish to share with their friends, or
- They see people who are crippled in one way or another and cannot reach a branch or don’t know how to reach one. These people share from their basket.
Some people go to great effort to create large canvas bags in which they can put many, many apples. Some of these bags are so large they are too heavy to be moved, so the person sits and guards the bag so it is not stolen by anyone else. These people are often like those with baskets sharing a small portion with friends or those who cannot reach the branches. Usually these bags have apples that are so old in the bottom of the bag that they are rotten and putrid, but the bag owner doesn’t notice this.
Some people, as we have mentioned above, may be crippled physically or mentally and are unable to reach the fruit. Some of these see the fruit, some don’t. Some rail at their situation, sitting and screaming demanding help that they sometimes get and sometimes not. So often they eat the rotten fruit on the ground. Some see the problem and build ramps and towers for them and others like them to be able to reach the branches. Of course, both types of people do get help from the basket people and the bag people and others.
Some people see the branches and can reach them, but choose not to. They go to the basket people and bag people and sometimes the crippled ramp people trying to get apples from them. Sometimes that works and when it doesn’t, they pick fruit that may be under-ripe or over-ripe from the branches that are closest to where they are at the moment. Or they eat the rotten fruit on the ground.
Some people see the fruit and want it, but they don’t believe they are smart enough to pick the fruit or think they are not worthy to have something a luscious as a fresh apple off the tree. So they eat the rotten fruit on the ground.
Some people are clever and talk to those who consider themselves unworthy or not smart. The clever people say, “I will take care of you and I will make you worthy, so I give you permission to pick the apples if you give me one apple for every two that you pick. Just put it into my canvas bag. But if you don’t pick enough apples fast enough, I will demand that you give me two apples for every three you pick.”
You see where I am going with this story. I am sure you can think of many other types of people who also live under the tree. And please don't dissect my examples too critically. I have consciously not labeled each type of activity with a name, for that particular judgment lends itself to harsher judgments. There are many motivations for each activity. We are all learning and experiencing as we go along under this Wonderful Tree.
So what’s my point? It doesn’t have to be hard. If we all picked from the Tree as we need it, we would all get along, we would all be happy, and we can experience what we want to when we want to. Or we could all have baskets and share. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. That option is available to us. The Universe really is like that Tree of Life. Full of abundance. Full of everything you might want to experience without pain or discomfort. We just need to open our eyes, look up, and KNOW that the Tree is there. Well, we’re looking and I love all of us for it.
The Old Monk