Archive for March, 2011

March 29, 2011

Blue trees, for now.

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March 17, 2011

Contemplation and Trees: Bonsai

Note: A friend in Japan, now safe in Kobe, writes us that a useful place to send donations is the U.S.-Japan Council Earthquake Relief Fund All donations go to local relief. They thank you.

The oldest living tree is a Norway Spruce in Dalarna, Sweden(1).  At 9500 years, it’s older that the Bristlecones in the mountains in California.  Yet it looks just like a tree you would pass on at a Christmas tree lot — only the root stock is ancient.

Time and Shaping: When trees in the wild are shaped by wind –or by other trees falling on them, by poison oak wrapping tightly around them–  a record of time and growth is formed that is more apparent to us than the slow circles of tree rings.

Most people have seen bonsai trees and have probably wondered about the human hands that have helped shape them.  According to Taoist thought, Yin and Yang forces are found in each tree. These opposing powers of the universe are glimpsed in the small straight branches and the twisted ones, the shiny light bark and the soft dark, the leaves throughout the seasons.

In southwest China fengshui stands for the interaction of yin and yang and represents a power that affects the world and everything in it. Fengshui may be found especially in strange and awe-inspiring trees and stones. The contemplation of these powers or the active cultivation of trees to enhance their spiritual force, as in the Japanese art of bonsai, builds gentleness of character, religious spirit, and respect for humankind.
“Trees”. Pamela R. Frese and S. J. M. Gray Encyclopedia of Religion. Vol. 14. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. p 9333-9340.

Wrapped by vines

1. According to the National Geographic, 2008. (Based on root dating.)