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This morning my husband and I had a long talk with our gardener. About five trees in our garden. We had similar talks before but without much seriousness. Today we had to come to a serious decision. Mindfully, carefully thought out decision.
You see, our garden space is actually quite narrow, and the previous owners of the house had planted several trees while the house was being built. Some of these trees were perhaps not really planted with much careful thought, especially not with a consideration of the fact that trees grow big and bigger. As much as we are grateful for the fact that we have a nice green space in our home which is a great source of joy and beauty, we are also beginning to get concerned about the location of these trees.
They are planted too close to the boundary wall, in fact the trunks of two neem trees are already beginning to cause some cracks in the wall. There is a very tall teak tree with its beautiful trunk, but it has become too big for its place and is really leaning heavily on the boundary wall. There is also one part of a flowering oleander tree which is beginning to look worrisome. And then there is a big palm tree with a heavy root system planted very close to one of outer walls of the house itself.
The solution has to be drastic. Just a few months ago also we had been through a lot of drastic action in the garden (read about that here). And now this.
A part of my heart cries when I think of what will be happening in my little garden in a few days.
But I have already started thinking about what I will be planting in the places left vacant. Of course, no trees that tend to grow big and bigger. Plus I take comfort in the thought that we may still be able to save part of the oleander tree. I also plan to save as much of the wood from the trunks as possible and use the log pieces to make stands for potted plants.
There is however a part of me that can’t come to terms with what I am about to witness. It has taken me a long time to be convinced of what must be done. Ever since moving into this house more than three years ago, we knew this time would come sooner or later. And we had been somewhat preparing in advance by carefully doing some planting of smaller trees, vines and bushes which will eventually fill up those corners left behind by the big trees.
But still it hurts.
My thought goes to all the trees that have been removed from the face of the earth because we, the people needed to build roads, buildings, flyovers, bridges, houses etc. My thought goes to all the trees that had to be cut down because we, the people needed nice looking furniture and floors. And paper. And more paper.
My thought goes to all the trees that were cut down simply because we didn’t know better.
Am I being hypocritical here? Here I am thinking about all those trees that have been cut down from times immemorial and those that are being cut down as I write this. And yet soon I myself will add a few more to the total count of the ‘cut down’ trees.
I can persuade myself by words such as — my situation is different, I have no choice, I can’t let these trees cause damage to the house. I can also arrogantly think to myself — didn’t I do my bit for the trees by buying all the refurbished second-hand wooden furniture for my home instead of buying new? Don’t I recycle? Don’t I do composting? Etc etc….I can do all these things to feel comfortable with my decision. But I should not.
I don’t know what I am feeling really. Maybe I don’t want to know. Because a part of my heart is still crying. Only one thought comes to mind — Compassion for our Mother Earth. When will we begin to practice that?
Maybe we can begin to practice by consuming less. Less paper, less plastic, less electricity, less petrol, less water. Less things.
Maybe we can begin to practice by being kind to all things around. By gradually becoming mindful of the material world around us.
Maybe we can begin to practice by creating green spaces, even if they are small balcony gardens. Or indoor gardens with a few potted plants.
Maybe we can begin to practice by planning our little green spaces more thoughtfully, more consciously. So we don’t have to make some difficult decisions few years down the road.
Yes, that’s the lesson I am learning today. Being more mindful, being more thoughtful, being more considerate. Because true and sincere compassion requires mindfulness, awareness and humility. It requires that we be non-judgmental and non-arrogant.
Not easy things to do. Especially when we are so used to thinking that we know what is best for the world and for everyone else in the world. Especially when we are so used to forgetting that there is a force much higher than our very limited intelligence which is leading the world to a higher harmony, much higher than we can ever conceive or imagine, despite or through all the chaos and destruction and turmoil we see around us.
Indiscriminate compassion is the noblest gift of temperament, not to do even the least hurt to one living thing is the highest of all human virtues; but God practises neither. Is man therefore nobler and better than the All-loving?
To exalt one virtue,—compassion even,—unduly above all others is to cover up with one’s hand the eyes of wisdom. God moves always towards a harmony.
~~ Sri Aurobindo (Aphorisms)
Do I find comfort in these words? Sure I do. Contemplating on these words today is a compassionate thing to do, for myself.
But in addition to feeling the compassion in these words, I also find them teaching me an important lesson — that of compassion as a means to a greater harmony. Compassion as a means to becoming mindful — of my choices, my actions, my thoughts, my awareness. This is the lesson I hope to keep in my heart.
To read readers’ comments on this post, click HERE for its previous version.
This is my contribution to the unique global movement called 1000 Voices for Compassion. Today, the 20th February 2015, over 1000 bloggers worldwide are publishing posts about compassion. It is an effort to spread goodness and compassion in a world torn by strife and violence.