A tree can be like Buddha

Art historian Chiang Hsun stays awhile with a comforting big tree in the wilderness. He admires its steadfastness, its sturdiness, its generosity. He takes heart as his unassuming friend shows us that we all have it in us, whatever our beliefs, to be the bigger person, to give shade, to give rest to those around us.
The tall and unassuming tree in the wilderness. (Facebook/蔣勳)
The tall and unassuming tree in the wilderness. (Facebook/蔣勳)

The night before I left, I went to see that big tree again. 

I thanked him for being there, for holding up his umbrella-like canopy for sweat-drenched farmers toiling nearby, and sheltering them from the baking sun as they took a break under his care. 

I thanked him for the flowers that bloomed every season, for uplifting the spirits of the dejected and the downcast, for showing them that life is never so bleak as to be hopeless, but should instead blossom with dazzling colours. 

A tree stretches out its branches and shelters those under it. (iStock)

I thanked him for spreading his branches far and wide, selflessly, so that migrating birds from remote lands could find rest and insects could crawl along his torso, and all of them could build their nests among his boughs and twigs and find a little place of refuge from life's travails.  

I thanked him for obliging the climbing and parasitic plants, for letting the vines and the morning glories embrace and live on him, so that they could brave the storm together, and let beautiful flowers flourish and dance in the wind.  

In the darkness and silence of the night, he is the giant that stands tall and proud. 

A tree is a giant that stands tall and proud. (iStock)

I thanked the thoughtful souls who shone their light upon him, so that even in the darkest of nights, people could see this giant tree in the wilderness and revel in the magnificence, splendour, and dignity of life. 

Clasping my hand in prayer, I understood that a tree is part of all beings. A tree can be like god; a tree can be like Buddha.  

Related: Taiwan author Chiang Hsun: One humanity, one world | What is the colour of 青春 (qingchun), or youth?