With summer in full swing, I’ve been spending more time than ever outdoors on my patio. While sipping a creamy, bubbly black raspberry float, I found myself lulled into a hypnotic trance, captivated by the sway of delicate, leaf-heavy tree branches as they danced in the breeze. I recalled how so much of ancient wisdom has been gleaned by simply observing and contemplating nature. The Taoist masters, by watching the interplay and movement of animals, derived Tai Chi and the Qigong healing foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Buddhism, Hinduism and various Indigenous Traditions and teachings are also deeply rooted in the natural elements, creatures and plants of our world.
I realized that just like many spiritual traditions, which embraced the lessons from the animate and inanimate creations surrounding us, that I too could discover their stories, their teachings, if only I took the time to carefully observe. Afterall, aren’t we all made up of the same Divine Essence? Don’t we all share in that Oneness of Being which was created by the same Energy that birthed the stars, gave rise to the planet and all life on board, including myself?
However, unlike the ancient spiritual sages, I found myself farther removed from that intuitive, pure knowingness, and decided to enlist the help of researchers, who also sought to know the wisdom that nature could reveal. I chose to focus on leaves, and here is what I learned about and from them…
Just like myself and others, leaves can experience stress by being exposed to trauma or harsh conditions. When this happens, they exhibit what is known as “leaf scorch.” They, in fact, experience suffering. This reflects the Buddhist teaching that all living beings experience suffering and are deserving of compassion.
Even though leaves can be easily torn, they are flexible, and like the Tai Chi master, they will yield to a force, rather than resist it. What a great lesson in learning to surrender to the things that are beyond my ability to change.
Leaves are drawn to things that nourish them. They seek out sunlight and the right nutrients in order to thrive. Can I learn to seek out those healthy things in life which promote my growth? Can I avoid the things, people, habits, food, etc. that are harmful to my well-being?
The leaf experiences perpetual change throughout its life cycle. So too I experience continual change throughout my lifetime: jobs, homes,
possessions, my physical body, and so on.
Despite the continual transformation, all the instructions and materials for the leaf’s growth, color and texture alterations are contained within the leaf itself. Despite its lifetime metamorphosis, it is the same leaf from beginning to end. Similarly, despite all my lifetime changes, I am the same individual from birth to death. Everything I need to master the changes and challenges throughout my life is contained within me, and I need only bring those helpful qualities forth into expression.
Despite each leaf being a unique individual entity, each one harbors the wisdom that its survival is dependent on a cooperation among all its
surrounding leaves. This cooperation ultimately nourishes the tree, which correspondingly nourishes the life of each individual leaf. What an important lesson this is about working together for the common (and individual) highest and best good.
So those are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned in my study of leaves.
Next, I will continue my research to discover what wisdom I can glean from studying creamy, bubbly black raspberry floats. Mmmmmmm.