A couple of years ago, I went for a Vipassana course, the idea of which is to keep silent and spend time with oneself for 10 days, alone even when in the company of a hundred others. No form of communication is allowed, not even eye contact. For lack of regular human activities like reading, watching TV or talking to other people, I ended up talking to trees.
Well, not ‘talking’, because we were on maun vrat (vow of silence), but a sort of mental communication. I’d go up to the trees that lined the pathways of the compound and silently greet them, chat with them in my head – “How are you doing today? More birds hanging around? Huh.” – and generally spend a lot of time looking at them. The birds and animals at the centre were remarkably unafraid of humans, and as one teacher half-joked, they were in a state of dhyaan (meditation) themselves. And so I’d observe the groups of twittering birds as well, and had sweet stories to tell my kids later on.
Today, due to my self-imposed silence, I found myself talking to trees again. I was on my way to work and there were plenty of traffic jams due to the BRICS 2012 Summit. By the grace of God, I had a driver, and could sit back and watch the trees. One stood out in its grace and beauty, spreading its branches over a disproportionately large area – almost as if its entire raison d’être was giving shade; it wanted nothing for itself. I was reminded of an article I once read about what trees teach us; one of the points in it was:
Trees keep growing, completely unconcerned about any imperfection. And in that, they are perfect.
Thinking back of all the significant trees in my life, and all my conversations with them, I could not help feeling a sense of deep peace and connectedness with the earth. What treasures these trees are – holding generations of memories, limitless potential and universal coding in their cells. And how enlightened: they observe without reacting, they absorb negativity without harming themselves, and give out positivity without expectation of anything in return. They have so much to teach us, but how much time do we spend communicating with them – speaking not with our mouths but with our hearts, listening not with our ears but with every cell in our bodies?
Today as I called out a smiling, silent “Yo dude” or “Hey sweety” to the trees I passed by, I could not help but see a face in each of them smiling back at me.
Yes, I know, it’s you, Krishna. I see ya.