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The Monk and the TreeAn Ayahuasca journey of love ... beyond the 3D
By James H. Scheller
Abbott PressCopyright © 2012 James H. Scheller
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Earth has a blissful way of thriving. Nothing has ever overcome the Earth. It is a beautiful place to live for so many living creatures, and the Earth shall continue to love its tenants (the high and the low) for all eternity.
"I want to see what is going on above the ground," says the Tree's spirit to its Dao. "I want to feel the wind through my leaves, taste the energy of the sun, embrace the soil with my roots, and be enjoyed by the creatures of the land above me."
In reply, the Dao answers, "Your path will be long. There are many lessons along your way. Always be true to yourself, and you will prevail. Others, like you, are at war to conquer the land, which has provided for them all their life. Be not a consumer. Just be. Do not seek; for the lessons will be presented, and the answers will be revealed. Remember: you will not be denied the sunlight, the wind, or the soil, for these are three unconditional gifts that will always be provided for you so that you may continue to cultivate yourself—without fear of lack. You will receive more nourishment when Dao presents it."
And so the Tree's growth begins ...
Chapter TwoWhen the Tree had forty-five rings of growth, a small group of settlers began to build a town in the valley of the hill where the tree stood. Many trees were needed to build the village, but this tree was spared along with many others.
As with most towns around the region, the citizens built walls in order to protect themselves from attacks. This city was never attacked in a hundred years, and the citizens felt protected by the walls that they had built. Every citizen believed and understood: anyone going outside the city did so at his own risk.
A young girl, fifteen years of age, walks down the streets of the town on her way to the open market. She does not know of a life outside the walls of the town, but she will—one day. Her name is Malian; she stands five feet two inches tall and is naturally beautiful. She walks with her head bowed and carries an unusual instrument called a pikayliup; it resembles a guitar with an embedded bamboo flute. The musician would strum the strings, and the bellows for the flute would be pumped with the knee. The temple staff had given her this instrument.
As a monk, it is nurturing to an individual's ITLχITL to be artistic and express oneself with activities that bring joy to self and others. Of course, as with all instruments, in order for the instrument to sound beautiful, the person playing it must also have a beautiful heart; but more importantly, the instrument must be chosen by the student. (Or, easier said, "The instrument and musician choose each other.")
Malian is an orphan, taken in by the temple staff. It is not uncommon for the temple to care for orphans, but Malian is the first abandoned baby the staff has cared for. Yes, Malian is female, and at that time, females were not permitted to be recognized as temple staff; therefore, she will have to leave the temple when the time comes. However, in her case, things are different, and her acceptance as part of the staff is because of the temple's senior.
"But she is different," said Master Yoi, the senior of the temple. "Let us see beyond the boundary of her gender and nurture her spirit. I can see Malian's spirit is calm and pure; let us embrace that. I promise you she will be the result of your true love for life. She has begged to be here, just as you did; but it was not your false self who begged—it was your true self. My challenge to all temple staff: Fear not the change in our temple, for life is life. Be peaceful, and raise this beautiful child in all of our ways, and teach her to know her Dao. It is my wish."
As Malian walks the streets, she knows that she receives the stares of many citizens who still have not chosen to see her as the temple staff do. Inside the temple, she is no different than the other monks. Out among the citizens, she is not accepted—at least not entirely. There are those who envy her (mostly women), but she does not recognize envy. Some do not want to be seen speaking to her, for fear that they will be judged by others for being different. Living a life under the scrutiny of the general public may have seemed difficult for someone else, but it is not difficult for her. Malian loves life, and being among life, good or bad, is just life being life.
When she arrives at the market, out of nowhere comes a pleasant "Hello, Malian!" It is a farmer, tending to her display of fruits and vegetables. The vibrant farmer continues to speak. "Today I have brought some of my tastiest vegetables. Because the harvest is so bountiful this year, I have so much to sell. I know the people of this town will be feeling so much better when they enjoy what heaven has provided—and what my back has been able to dig up." She continues to giggle.
"Would you like to try one of my delicious melons? Here, take this one. You can eat it now or later when you are ready." The melon is truly a good one. It is full of juice, and the scent of it makes you feel as though you have already tasted it.
Malian graciously accepts the farmer's gift, bows to her, and says, "Thank you, madam." Then she carefully stores it in her shopping bag.
"I came to the market to get food for the temple staff," says Malian. "I see so many more displays of fresh food, and the smell of the market is very pleasing to me. I can see and hear the beauty in everyone."
"Yes, indeed," says the farmer. "Like I said, the harvest has been kind to us this year. Everyone is in high spirits." Without even tasting the food, which was gifted to them by the land, the people of the town are already being nourished by it.
As she walks barefoot through the outdoor market, Malian's awareness is beyond words. While shopping, she is very grateful to be part of the town's joyous harvest occasion. The market is crowded, even more so near the displays. It takes her a little effort to get close enough to the displays to pick out what she wants. Malian was never discouraged and never became irritated with the people. The lessons her Dao had taught her was that the people were not being unfriendly; they were not yet awake to see with their hearts.
The temperature that day feels very good, like the perfect cup of tea that soothes her spirit and settles her heart. She knows the food she selects is truly blessed; she also knows that the meal the temple staff will prepare will be delicious and full of joy. Today is filled with gifts, thanks to heaven and the land.
Before Malian knows it, her bag is full, and she has walked across the marketplace. Turning back toward the market and taking a last long look at the bustling activity, Malian reviews the joy she has experienced, she then bows toward the crowd and gives thanks to heaven for the precious gifts she's received during her shopping experience. When she finishes her bow, she begins walking back toward the temple. It is getting close to dinnertime, and the incense offering, a Dao tradition, will soon be starting.
Along the way back toward the temple, Malian passes a young girl whom she has seen several times before. They never spoke to one another, but they would one day. The young girl's name is Kalina.
Kalina lives with her grandparents. The three of them had traveled from a distant area to settle in the town several years ago, after a tragic fire took her home and her parents.
Kalina had been ten years old when her mother and father died. Her grandparents care for her now, but they cannot fill that life-giving void that only her parents had.
What Malian does know of Kalina is that there is a distant connection between them, perhaps from a different time.
While maintaining her pace along the street, Malian quietly smiles at Kalina and bows to her; in return, Kalina does the same, as if they had done so thousands of times before.
As Malian gets closer to the temple, she can smell the garden that surrounds it and hear the carp swishing in the garden pond. Malian's connection to the temple and to the town is sincere. But she knows there is more to life than what lies within the walls of the town.
From the top step of the temple's entrance, Malian can see the land on the other side of the walls. "One day I will visit the world outside these walls," she says to herself. "One day." Then she goes inside the temple to assist the staff.
Chapter ThreeOnce again, night falls, and the forest takes on a new life. That particular night, rain falls, and many of the creatures find shelter.
Trees are a great place to find shelter for the forest life. Even the insects find a nice place to hide under a leaf. The trees themselves welcome the rain and give thanks to heaven for the wet blessing as it quenches their thirst and helps digest the rays of the sun.
"I hear the rain and feel the creatures of the land preparing to cover themselves within my roots," the Tree says (the way trees do) to the wind. "I know it is the beginning of a new season, and my trunk will grow stronger, and my branches will reach taller and stronger. I am grateful to still be standing and being part of a community of love."
The rain begins to kiss the Tree, and for more than a month, the rain falls gently upon the land. The inhabitants are blessed with the gift of rain. The wind occasionally blows the drops of water from the leaves of the trees to the low creatures beneath them. A drop of nourishment from high above their bodies is now before them.
The Tree has grown unlike any other tree. It has not spread its roots through the ground and tangled itself in the other neighboring trees' turf. It stands tall, but not as tall as the other trees that surround it. The ground around the Tree provides it with nutrients and moist soil. It stands tall enough to receive the sunlight. However, there is just one unique difference about this Tree. Deep beneath the Tree's surface lies a volcanic foundation that has cooled. Yet the water that seeps through cracks of the volcanic rock is absorbed by the Tree, giving the Tree a different ingredient to survive.
Within the volcanic rock is the history of the Earth. It is porous and can be a direct hardwire to the center of the Earth and contain history beyond human understanding. Water itself contains memory and can transmit it over long distances.
Through the porous volcanic rock seeps the water, which rises up through the Earth by way of underground springs. The water absorbs the frequencies of the rock and moves the information through natural flow. By the time the water has reached the roots of the Tree, there are not just a few vibrations in the water, but thousands. To the Tree, these vibrations in the water are life-changing; just as the molecular structure of fresh water can change the life of a human.
Through the years, the Tree has felt the presence of the other trees in the forest, but did not interfere with them; nor could the other trees interfere with it.
The Tree grows on its own merits, and it is growing much differently than any other tree in the forest. It is growing in the most unusual way. The Tree is not sick, nor is it threatened by wood-boring pests; the Tree is only channeling the information that comes to it through its dharma, a Sanskrit word meaning self divine truth. In the Tree's life it has stayed true to its Dao by not seeking truth. The truth presented itself to the Tree, and the results are profoundly unusual.
The building of the town changed the environment as well as the landscape that surrounds it. The woodcutters and carpenters needed the trees to make fires, houses, and furniture. Each tree was carefully selected for its unique quality to be used either for burning or building. Some of the trees were used to make the finest furniture in the town. No tree was considered useless, not even a fallen tree. In essence, every tree has a gift to the citizens of the town.
When the town was finished being built, fewer trees were being cut. However, when a carpenter did need more wood, the distance a woodcutter needed to walk was nearly half a day's travel. A person traveling to the forest would need to walk up a gradual slope in order to get to the older trees. This was no easy task, because of the equipment and supplies that needed to be hauled in order to carry out a full day's work order.
The Tree knows it will one day serve a purpose to the town, but it does not know what that purpose will be. The woodcutters and their mule-pulled carts full of supplies would pass by the Tree to select another tree to cut. The Tree does not know why it was not cut down; perhaps it is not beautiful or useful. The Tree has a question. For the first time in its life, the Tree has a question.
Chapter FourSupper is over, and the temple staff have cleared away the evening meal. The sun is behind the hillside, but the orange-and-yellow glow of the sun is ever so bright. The stillness of the town is settling in, and the aroma of the kitchens throughout the town fills the air. Taking in a conscious breath is pure joy for the soul. The smell of the fresh harvest fills the air; it is as if one can enjoy the meals of a hundred families in one breath.
"Mmmmm. Ahhhhh," Malian says to herself, as she sits before the koi pond, preparing to play her pikayliup for the life in the garden.
Malian enjoys playing and singing, but her music teacher told her not to play in public forums. Many of the townspeople have not heard Malian perform, and if Malian did play for them, there might be trouble for her. However, Malian does not need an audience of townspeople; she only needs a settled heart to speak her dharma through her music.
The pikayliup is a difficult instrument to play, if you let the looks of it impress you. As a child, Malian does not know how to be impressed with difficult or complicated instruments. Just listening to the beauty of the instrument's sound gives Malian the encouragement to play beautiful music with the instrument of her choice.
When Malian plays, the temple staff settle where they are on the temple grounds and let Malian play for them. Nothing else matters at that moment. Listening and letting one's spirit ride on the tone of the pikayliup is blissful. The life in the garden hangs on every note, while the song of the insects joins in, to be part of Malian's band. The entertainment lasts only a short while, but continues to resonate throughout the night.
When she was finished playing, Malian would always say, "Sleep peacefully, all of you. I will be with you tomorrow." She would then make a small bow to the koi pond, and then off to bed she would go.
Even though Malian is only allowed to play in the temple area, there are others who can hear her playing and singing. Other people and other living creatures can hear her from great distances.
High upon the hillside, the life that covers the land also hears Malian playing. They can always hear Malian playing, except the Tree. The water that runs through the Tree is often unsettled and very distracting to the Tree. The Tree does not always feel what the others trees do, because of the vibrational noise contained in the water it drinks. The Tree does know that there is more to the environment, which it stands upon; but what is this more?
During this time period (before any Eastern or Western philosophers that we know of in our modern-day history books), the skies, the land, and the seas are filled with the sounds of life that we do not know of today, mainly because modern technology drowns out the beautiful surrounding environment that is right before our eyes. Long ago, during the time of this story, even a soft musical note can be heard several hundred yards away and sound like a concert.
That night, as Malian sleeps, she dreams of being outside of the town walls. Seeing herself walk through the grassy fields between the walls and the tree line on top of the hillside and feeling the grass under her bare feet is so real that she even feels the cool temperature of the water and the rocks. As she walks closer to the tree line, she sees the forest animals' eyes looking out of the forest at her. She does not feel threatened by the new creatures she is meeting.
She was taught that there is much to fear in the forest, but for some reason, she does not know of this fear.
Throughout the night, Malian spends time in the forest of her dreams, as if to become familiar with a place she will soon be returning to at another time.
Chapter FiveAs the morning light shines through the window of Malian's room, she knows that this is a special day for her. Today is her twenty-sixth birthday. All of the sounds coming into her room are pleasant and beautiful to awaken to. Lying for another brief moment on her bed, she notices that the room is unusually quiet.
I hope everything is all right, Malian thinks to herself. She hears a noise outside of her window, so she stands up to look out—but she is then distracted by a knock on her bedroom door. "Come in," Malian says. "The door is not locked."
Excerpted from The Monk and the Tree by James H. Scheller Copyright © 2012 by James H. Scheller. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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