The Beefy One

Beefy

Standing at the edge of a children’s playground this tree seems to have been working out 😉

I came across an excellent piece on trees by Hermann Hesse. I thought perhaps you may like to read it too.

Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte [Trees: Reflections and Poems]

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

Linked to Becca’s Sunday Trees – 307

 

Published by

Dahlia

Email me at mysilverstreaks@gmail.com or tweet me @mysilverstreaks

30 thoughts on “The Beefy One”

  1. What a wonderful essay to read on a beautiful Monday morning. All the trees have stories to tell.yes, you need to know how to listen to the trees. The tree (in the picture) is on the school ground is perfect for climbing, sitting eating lunch or just resting er sitting there reading. a tree meant to play with it climbing, swinging and jumping. Reminds me of the game of Amli-Pipli played by Kauravas and Pandavas in the story of Mahabharat. In our local Park, there were a few trees where kids used to climb and jump off but the council(Local Authority) decided to cut them down to stop kids climbing them. For their safety, they said when children for decades had been playing there.
    Good Morning dahlia.

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      1. I have a funny story to tell. When I was a college student in Mumbai I lived on a beautiful campus. There were a few Gulmohar trees outside our hostel. Some of the girls including I used to climb on the branches and the canteenwala boy used to deliver our order on the tree. Such fun. Unfortunately, our Hostel was flanked by the Principal’s house one side and Vice-principals house on the other. They were horrified. – Girls sitting on the tree and the Canteenboy under the tree looking up!!!.Of course, the trees were chopped down. All true. We were a bad lot .Not that we cared.
        Yes, I loved the essay and that tree.

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      2. OMG! No wonder the canteen guy was so prompt in delivering orders 😀 As a child my sister and I used to carry some water, jaggery and chanas in a battered old purse of Mum and climb up a guava tree and have a picnic up there – great fun! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

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      1. Oh yes, it’s a great game. The game Kauravas(K) and Pandavas(P) played that either K or P would climb Imli or Pipal tree and hang on to the branches. The team on the ground shook the tree until someone fell on the ground and got punished, As Arjun was a weakling he always ended getting punished until one day mighty Bhim decided to take revenge. He shook the tree so hard that all the Ks fell on the ground and got injured. What fun!!

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      2. Ohh and to think I didnt know about this story – I do remember something about Bheem shaking the tree and them falling off the tree though. Phew some saving grace 😀

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      3. Qh Dahlia… We were wearing jeans when climbing the trees. so the canteen boy did not see anything he should not. But it was sad that lovely trees were cut down.

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  2. That’s a wonderful photo, Dahlia!
    The writing by Hesse that you have quoted is thought-provoking. It’s very much in the spirit of German Romanticism. Its emphasis on self-realisation is superficially enticing – and maybe is true, up to a point – but that strand of philosophy eventually leads to justifications for the oppression of women by men; ‘subject’ races by the master-race; and so on.
    I’m not saying it’s all wrong, or all bad – just that it’s strong stuff and needs to be read with caution and awareness!
    With best wishes
    Penny

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    1. Very intriguing viewpoint Penny – “Its emphasis on self-realisation is superficially enticing – and maybe is true, up to a point – but that strand of philosophy eventually leads to justifications for the oppression of women by men; ‘subject’ races by the master-race” I went back to read it but I couldnt quite get this bit. Or are you extrapolating or drawing from some other article too? Do tell I would love to know more especially what I am missing – thanks Penny for your insightful and thought-provoking comments. 🙂

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  3. Dear Dahlia
    I’m speaking out of a rather superficial general knowledge of the German romantic tradition. The sort of sentences that rang alarm bells were “And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.”
    “And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.”
    This glorification of the individual, the hero figure became in Nietzsche’s work a doctrine of the superman. Subsequently the Nazi’s adopted (perverted?) his philosophy – and we all know where that led. I personally treat anything that refers approvingly to Nietzsche with a great deal of caution.
    What isn’t in doubt about this passage is that it is philosophy disguised as literary prose. You might say that I feel while philosophy is dangerous, disguised philosophy is doubly dangerous!
    With very best wishes
    Penny

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    1. I see what you mean Penny! This is an eye opener for me and I really appreciate your decoding the subtext for me. Only recently have I begun to appreciate the power of the unsaid, and the power of the suggestion, it is all so insidious and subtle but nonetheless effective in brainwashing. As you say disguised philosophy is doubly dangerous and if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have been any wiser. Thanks so very much!

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  4. This really is a nice strong man tree flexing his muscles. And it looks like one tree you can depend on. Thanks for sharing the wisdom of Hesse. That was an added bonus and so aptly captured my very own sentiment about trees .

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  5. Wonderful picture and a wonderful text, Trees are magnificient in their own ways, silent teachers and can teach us so much of patience in life….lovely post….

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