On a pleasant summer afternoon, I was riding my bicycle in a lush green park in the city of Bangkok. In an upbeat mood, I was humming my favourite songs while breezing through a tunnel of towering trees. The birds perched on the canopy were at their poetic best, as they sang with unbridled enthusiasm about all things beautiful. Yet, even in such a happy moment, I noticed something in the vicinity that made me stop and ponder. All around me, while the leaves on the trees swayed gently to the cool breeze, the trunk stood still, with no avenue to move about in any way. I could tell that the trees and I shared the same merry mood, yet I had an advantage that my friends in the flora did not. I could move about, sing, dance, and express my happiness, while the trees could only sway to the ebb and flow of the wind. After all, they were firmly rooted in the ground.
‘How I wish that trees could also walk. Wouldn’t it be nice to see them sing and dance when they are happy?’ I lamented.
Engrossed in this wishful desire, as I stopped under a mighty Bodhi tree and rested myself against its trunk, I heard a deep, comforting voice emanating from nearby.
‘Why do you seem so low all of a sudden, my friend? Just moments ago you were so joyous in your heart. Don’t you think it is a beautiful day today?’ asked the Bodhi tree, swaying gracefully to the wind.
‘Oh, dear Bodhi, it indeed is a beautiful day. But how can I celebrate this day alone? I wish you could also sing and dance, travel freely and enjoy the experience of the world beyond your vistas. While I am grateful I can move about, sing, and express my happiness; I feel sorry that you cannot.’
Moved by my concern, the Bodhi tree lovingly shed an old yellow leaf that came swirling down from its canopy. As it landed on my lap, the tree whispered,
‘My friend, thank you for your concern. You are right. I cannot sing or dance or travel freely around the world. But I choose not to feel sad about it. Instead, I grow with solemn devotion and faith. I completely trust the divine design of the universe. Do you know what happens when I do that?’
‘What?’ I inquired.
‘By growing with all my creative energy, a voiceless tree like me becomes an arena where the birds choose to sing symphonies with all their heart, every morning. Yes, I cannot sing, but I do foster a million mellifluous singers in my canopy.
Even though I cannot travel, I provide shade and shelter to every fatigued traveller that crosses my path. I get to hear of all the magical places on Earth from them. Yes, I cannot travel, but I foster faith in travellers and assure them that trees will provide a place to rest whenever they are in need. I do not let my limitations bog me down. I stay true to my nature, grow with all my heart, and encourage people to do things that I am not able to. There’s great joy in living like that.’
With the blowing wind, the birds sang merrily, assenting to the wisdom the tree shared.
Resting in the cool shade of the Bodhi tree, I made a big choice in my little heart –
To sing with an open heart whenever I can. And if for some reason I cannot sing, I should become the arena that fosters singing. The stage that enables others to thrive.
Swaying gently, the tree flirted with the wind, celebrating a life lived fully. Resting in the shadow of the wise old tree I realised,
‘No wonder the Buddha found enlightenment while meditating under a wise old Bodhi tree!’