Friday, April 25, 2014

Ordaining the Big Oak Tree

We ordained the big oak tree tonight. I felt a little funny about being part of that ceremony. That beautiful old oak tree is kind of like a wood Buddha from the 12th century. It has been around far longer that we have, and has experienced many persuasions over the century(s) that it has lived.

Photo by Scott Shaevel
What about its choice? Is this like the Mormons baptizing everyone and their brother? Do we have that right to determine what someone should believe? Should we even baptize a child? Are we regulating its mind before it has the ability to say boo?

Maybe I could sneak over to the tree some night and defrock it. I kind of liked the lack of preferences of that tree. How it reaches out in a myriad of directions giving love to all sentient beings, even those in a blade of grass mentioned in the sutra that we read at the ordination. Maybe, just maybe, that is what the tree is contemplating when it isn't struggling with challenging elements and people.

When I read this to my Zen Writing group, Bill pointed out that when the Zen center moved into our current temple that they saw that the tree was dying and both petitioned the city to move a sidewalk and changed the landscaping to give the tree more water. I started to feel that the tree might now have some major affinity with Zen. I hope so.

After our meeting, I spoke with Scott about the tree. He suggested that it might be a Buddhist for a while, but then, when its tenants change, it might adopt another persuasion. That sounds good to me.

This morning I found a paper on tree ordination in Thailand: Here is the abstract of the paper:
“Abstract: The symbolic ordination of trees as monks in Thailand is widely perceived in Western scholarship to be proof of the power of Buddhism to spur ecological thought. However, a closer analysis of tree ordination demonstrates that it is not primarily about Buddhist teaching, but rather is an invented tradition based on the sanctity of Thai Buddhist symbols as well as those of spirit worship and the monarchy. Tree ordinations performed by non-Buddhist minorities in Thailand do not demonstrate a religious commitment but rather a political one.”
In retrospect, I like that we ordained the tree. We take for granted much of our environment that treats us so well.

Photo by Scott Shaevel

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Lotus sutra in chapter on plants says Buddhas compassion is like rain which falls on every plant equally.