The Cosmos in the Tree, as seen by Thích Nhất Hạnh

A wonderful quote by Thích Nhất Hạnh in The Art of Mindful Living provides a lovely illustration of agaya:
“Look at the tree. [It] is a wonderful thing, a tree. A tree is very beautiful. A tree to me is as beautiful as a cathedral, even more beautiful. I look[ed] into the tree and I saw the whole cosmos in it.
I saw the sunshine in the tree. Can you see the sunshine in the tree? Yes, because without the sunshine, no tree can grow.
I see a cloud in the tree. Can you see? Without a cloud, there can be no rain, no tree.
I see the earth in the tree.
I see everything in the tree.
So the tree is where everything in the cosmos comes into, and the cosmos reveals itself to me through a tree. Therefore, a tree to me is a cathedral, and I can take refuge in the tree and I can get nourished by the tree…
I can get in touch with the tree only if I go back to the present moment, because the tree can only be found in the present moment.”

Of course, agaya can take you even deeper. The elemental atoms of the tree came from the heart of an exploding star billions of years ago, so that nova is in the tree (as it is in you). The water, the carbon, everything that the tree has taken in as it grows has been cycling in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere of Earth for about four billion years. Because of the number of atoms, and how well they mix over time, it is likely that any given tree might have taken in some of Cleopatra’s bathwater, some of the calcium from a dinosaur’s bones, some of the nitrogen from the first generation of jellyfish, some of the carbon dioxide you exhaled whenever you walked past. This is how agaya transitions into ubuntu – we are all made of the same things, and as participants in Earth’s biosphere we constantly share matter and energy.

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Thích Nhất Hạnh and his companions have also provided a beautiful expression of ubuntu:
“We are all the leaves of one tree. We are all the waves of one sea; the time has come for all to live as one.”
What do these ideas evoke in you?
What are some of your favorite quotes that encapsulate important aspects of agaya and ubuntu?
Please take a moment to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

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