Monday, March 2, 2009

The Great Oak Bodhisattva

Hidden in Temecula, Southern California is a wonderful secret: an old oak tree over 1,500 years of age, probably the oldest and largest known coastal live oak tree in the world. Nestled in the Pechanga Indian reservation, this oak tree is anything but a decrepit tree. From the outside, one cannot distinguish its magnificence. However, upon entering “its world,” one cannot fail to be enraptured by its size, serenity, and magnanimity. What we see above ground is only the tip of an iceberg. It stands majestically at more than 96 feet high, with a massive trunk nearly 20 feet in circumference. Much more is hidden from view underground.

From Thai Temple and Indian Reservation

To me, this oak tree is like a bodhisattva teaching us a lesson in Karma. This bodhisattva offers shelter, protection, happiness, and memories to those who have had the fortune to encounter it. In its quiet but powerful demeanor, this bodhisattva has demonstrated the power of karma over time, space, weather, and human designs. Master Hsing Yun spoke about the several principles of “karma” in “The Unique Characteristics of Buddhism.” He mentioned that karma is self-created i.e. it is not created by divine power: this oak tree is testimonial to the fact that it has withstood the tests of time and weather. Karma also means equal opportunity: this oak tree has made the best use of its existence, against all odds. Karma gives us hope and a bright future: this great oak bodhisattva reminds us that our future is in our hands. Karma means good begets good, and bad begets bad: certainly, this oak tree bears witness to the sowing of conditions through time. Karma is neutral, it is up to our mind to interpret and apply it towards positive goals.

Nature embodies the Dharma – animals, plants, and worlds are gently speaking to us. May we all celebrate the success of the Great Oak bodhisattva, and dance in the world of the Dharma.

Read about the oak tree at the Pechanga Reservation web site:

By Venerable Jue Wei


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