Newsletter October 2015
Rituals & Nature
– with excerpts from Swami Muktananda (Australia)
With the aid of ritual we learn to respect and nurture the natural environment, and with awareness, sensitivity and patience, we can also learn to communicate with nature.
The rhythms of the cosmos such as the lunar and planetary cycles and seasons all have a subtle effect on us. These cycles can be expressed and integrated into our life's process through ritual, helping us to maintain a conscious awareness of the laws of nature, intensifying our understanding and participation in the rhythms of the universe.
You may like to try starting this practice during the upcoming Navaratri from Oct 13th-22nd – a very auspicious time for any spiritual practices at the changeover of the seasons, and a good time to observe and connect into nature’s rhythms.
Ritual is an opportunity to step out of the mundane and renew ourselves, remembering that all life is interconnected and sacred.
Tree puja rebuilds our severed relationship with nature. When we build a relationship with something or somebody, we begin to care about its well-being and future, and the closer we get, the more we feel. As we care for the tree each day, as we see it change through the seasons, and notice the different birds and insects it attracts, and the flowers or fruit it may produce, our respect for it is certain to grow. The puja tree becomes a sacred place of solace and support, a place where we can simply be at peace and gain an understanding of our dependence and interconnection with nature.
Tree puja involves adopting a tree and caring for it.
You will meet your tree every day, whether it is a large tree, small one in the garden or a pot plant on the kitchen window sill.
The steps of the ritual suggested here have the benefit of time-honored historical symbolism and meaning behind them, but they are certainly not the only way to connect. You can also modify or create your own ritual and symbols, but know why you are modifying it, and once set, stick with it.
The steps are:
- Light a small candle and incense (be aware of fire hazards).
- Offer some water and a flower to the tree.
- Say a prayer of thanks and gratitude, sing a mantra or do any other offering that feels right for you.
The Jyoti (flame) represents the Atman, and its awakening not only in ourselves but also in the tree. For the purpose of Fire Safety, only light your candle while you are sitting at the tree and keep your candle for successive tree pujas.
The Incense purifies the environment, particularly the negativity of our minds.
The Water symbolises the watering of our spiritual life. When offered to the roots of a tree, it signifies an offering to our own spiritual thirst and nourishment of our own inner world. We cannot see the roots of the tree as they are more than two-thirds of the tree’s height. Similarly, we cannot see the spirit, the essence of our own existence.
The Flower (if available) is offered in recognition of the beauty of the divine.
In all traditions the tree is worshipped as the symbol of life, and worshipping trees is an ancient practice. Trees provide oxygen, fruits, seeds, wood and shade. Trees purify the air, water and soil. They provide shelter and homes to thousands of other species. Without trees we would have no oxygen to breathe and we would die. Tree puja is worship of Mother Earth, the source of all nourishment and life, as trees represent all the divine qualities of Mother Earth, endlessly giving, nurturing and sustaining.