You are invited to make friends with a representative of the Plant Kindom.* Choose a being who is larger than you, who will also probably live for many decades (or perhaps centuries, if you befriend a Sequoia or the like), yet who experiences life in a way so profoundly different from your own life experience.
Choose one individual (to start) with whom you wish to make a friendship — a favorite tree that’s easy for you to visit several times per week, at least. It should be a tree that is easy for you to walk up to, to touch the trunk (and perhaps hug, if you are so inclined, and if you’re confident the tree would appreciate it). If you’re a bit nomadic, this doesn’t have to be an exclusive, lifetime affair — even a friendship of a few days can be treasured, and perhaps you can find a new tree friend in every ‘port’.
When you visit, spend at least a minute giving your arborescent friend your undivided attention. Take a little time to get to know it. Talk about the weather. Ask after its health. Have you sprouted new leaves since we last visited? Do you have flowers, fruits or cones today? What other animals are visiting you now? How does the air smell today? How’s your soil? What are you up to this week? (Note that you do not need to do this out loud, lest other passing humans think you strange, and you shouldn’t expect to ‘hear’ an answer, but you can seek the answers and the tree will ‘tell’ you.)
If you can, spend some meditation time with your tree companion, focusing on the exchange of breath, the reciprocity of O2 and CO2. Realize that much of the tree’s mass, its ephemeral leaves and fruits and flowers, but also the wood of its durable trunk and roots, is constructed from the carbon the tree inhales.
Trees are able to capture our breath, and keep that gift from us as a beautiful piece of their own monumental structure for decades, maybe centuries. The more time you spend breathing beneath a tree’s leafy canopy, the more of the tree will be made from your breath. If you speak beneath a tree, the tree will in some fashion save and be shaped by your very words.
Let us know about your new friend and your experiences with this practice in the comments.
Trees are very good friends to have. Go say “agaya and ubuntu” to one – you’ll be glad you did!
*lack of a ‘g’ there is deliberate – Novasutras is not into monarchy or other ranked hierarchies
The global environmental and social challenges we face today are daunting, and they demand a response at a scale appropriate to the problem. Join us as we build a spiritual movement based in the principles of reverence for the living world, interdependence and loving-kindness: agaya and ubuntu.
This video describes some of the science supporting ubuntu. This is a talk by Tom Chi at TEDxTaipei, who never uses the term ubuntu. Nonetheless, what he describes is the underpinnings of ubuntu in physics, cosmology, chemistry, biology, and neuroscience.
Equatorial rainforests are sacred places. People around the world are coming together to recognize this fact and work to save Earth’s Three Green Hearts: Amazonia, Congo, and Sundaland. The Novasutras Movement is working to preserve and protect each of them. Learn more about it and join us on Tuesday, August 25th 2:30pm PDT / 21:30 UTC.
Science continues to reveal the complex intelligence of the Plant Kindom* upon which we utterly depend for the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe.
How else can we integrate our respect for the dignity of the Plant Kindom into the way we live and shape our societies?
Helpful hints for preparing local celebrations of the Equinox, including themes of balance, global unity, orientation, transition and migration. We suggest some activities for promoting awareness of agaya and ubuntu and having fun.
We stand in solidarity with indigenous water protectors, calling to #StopLine3. The proposed tar sands oil pipeline expansion would despoil the sacred land and water of Minnesota. We demand that banks stop funding Line 3 and other destructive fossil fuel infrastructure. We urge President Biden and the US Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the permits for Line 3 construction.
Explore the history, practice and science of “forest bathing”, and how it can help you deepen your connection with all other beings in loving-kindness, with the complex wonder and sacred beauty of the universe, with what we call agaya and ubuntu in Novasutras. Shinrin-yoku practice may help you become a more effective agent for increasing ubuntu and agaya in the world.