by: I. M. Oderberg


Ages ago a young student of India asked the question of his teacher who, rather than giving a direct answer, tried to stimulate his pupil’s own thinking. After considering the parts of a nearby tree, they came to the seed. When it was cut, clearly visible was the food intended to support the seedling in its first stages of growth. Nestling in a corner was a minute replica of the tree—to—be, so small, yet containing the inheritance germ that in the right circumstances would multiply into a new individual. It would be similar to its parent. yet different in its own way. Further examination of the kernel located the empty ‘‘space of the heart’’. Out of the invisible would pour all the potentiality of a tree.

THERE IS A SIMILARITY HERE WITH THE INNER BEING OF MAN.. If we look into the mirror of our nature, we perceive numerous selves. There is the public person and the private man, the mask and the face behind it. But even this face is not the real individual who experiences all the events of the day. We may think it is. and also that it creates the images of ourselves that are familiar to us. But if we peel off these projections, these layers of selfhood paring away the diverse people we may like or appear to be. we would at last reach the invisible self As we gradually become aware 0f it, we find ourselves being more the spectator than the actor. We may even see our posturing on our own private stage for what it really is.

ST. PAUL SAYS WE ARE COMPOSED OF BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT. Others tell us that we are of a far greater complexity. with our outermost skin consisting actually of a mixture 0f various materials and energies. sonic dense and others more refined. The soul is compounded of its own kind of substance, encompassing the emotional element and the mentality. The mind, too, functions as a duality, the lower aspect drawn to rationalizing and material concerns, while the higher is attracted to the principles of things and is sometimes irradiated by an influence beyond its own range. The latter is the spirit, which bears within itself the spark that comes from God and also the quality that is the source of the intuition.

How many of us are prepared to look in to the mirror of truth and see our many selves? To wait for the images 0f the lesser to fade away and to recognize them for what they really are illusory creations of our fancy and desires? We shall need great patience and strength to bring into focus the reflections of the higher qualities of our being.

The scripture states that if we have the faith of a grain of mustard seed we shall move mountains. Surely this remark is not meant to be taken literally or to encourage blind faith! Does it suggest that implicit trust in the very law of Life that has brought us thus far to human-hood can help us bring forth our potential, to become more completely humanized beings? The task of transmuting all our personal selves may seem impossible. But if we can become inwardly detached from the roles we play. not only before our fellows but even before our innermost self , we shall indeed be captains of our soul. The winds of circumstance will not sway us. nor the pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain, or confusion between the reality and what it appears to be. This poise stems from the real maturity of the true human being.

Daily life provides us with many lessons to acquire self-mastery . Yet the main one seems to be emancipation from our selfish ness which assumes many forms. For this trait may be not only of the grasping kind, but also take on the guise of a centeredness that ignores the plight of our fellows. The symbolic mustard seed-—so small--grows into tile plant, representing the development of any entity tv out of its unexpressed resources. It reminds us of the tree as the age-old symbol of the universe–or of man-- drawing sustenance from and rooted in space. Un-folding more and more of what is locked up within its invisible heart, it fills its field of possibilities again and again, but never exhausts its fertility. It contains a multitude of lesser beings, its branches supporting its kith and kin, from micro-scopic organisms to birds and other creatures.

In the far-off days when myths kept alive through the generations of men tile seeds of insight planted there by Sages. trees embodied concepts about gods and the creative forces of nature. The Scandinavian Eddas told of the World Ash, Yggd-rasil growing upside down with its roots in the skies and its branches towards earth. Its trunk was the axis of the revolving heavens, and the “World Eagle” perched on its summit. This is similar to the old Egyptian story of the Two broth-ers, one of whom was slain and his soul entered the Persca Tree from the branches of which he later emerged as the Bennu Bird, the Phoenix and hieroglyphic symbol of the reinbodying soul. India’s Aswattha tree, also with its roots in the heavenly realms, represented the cosmos unfolding itself into the material world, the Life-force fed by its sap; and the Bo-tree of the Buddhists gave strength to the Buddha in his hour of enlightenment. The Banyan tree yields its meaning more readily, perhaps, for it can represent the duality of spirit and matter, bound into unity by its essence. From its heavenly” Branches descend those aerial offshoots searching for the ground where they might strike root and become a new trunk. thus extending the range of manifested life farther out. The stories could be multiplied endlessly. So our forebears were wiser than we think when they pictured this great. pulsing, ever fecund Life as a tree, linking everything with the All, its heart the invisible space within a seed.




Vol. IX, No. 9. Fall 1972

Portal Publications,

2404 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92102

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