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  • Skribentens bildPake Daigen Hall

Ordination of a tree - protecting the forest

Uppdaterat: 23 feb.

-by Pake Daigen Hall

We walked through a 60 year old forest of fir, on grounds that once has been pasture for cows. It was a well known forest, but we hadn’t walked in this exact area before. The winter had put a blanket of white snow on the ground, that made the trees stand out with brown and green. We walked this forest of fir because we had gotten the news that this area had been filed for felling of forest.

It’s well known that forests have to gain some age to develop a greater biological diversity, and for a forest, 60 years are very young. The traces from the history of pastures were evident in the amount of high juniper bush that had died, once the firs grew high around them. And it looked at a quick glance like there were only a few of the more common kinds of moss where it was possible to see for the snow. We know from before that there grew some blueberries and lingonberries on the ground. But all in all, a forest that hadn’t had time to let life really settle in. All the firs even in size and height. Against the snow they all looked like rickety teenagers. And soon their time on earth may have come to an end.

Then all of a sudden a giant fir rose before our eyes. It stood alongside some pine trees and two more well grown and older firs. We measured it’s circumference - 3,30 m. Way bigger than any of the 60 years old ones that dominated the forest. As soon as I sat down under it and leaned my back against the bark of the tree, I knew we had to try to protect it from being felled. This great fir does a Bodhisattva’s work just by standing there, just by being alive. It creates a wider range of biological diversity just by not being the same age as the other firs. More species of moss and lichens have a chance to take this fir up as their partner, or host. Birds finds shelter and food among it’s huge braches. Insects can make it home in dead branches and cracks in the bark. This fir also very effectively stores carbon dioxid and contributes to being a carbon sink for the area. The first 20-30 years of a clear cutting the area releases carbon dioxid into the atmosphere, even if you plant new trees. But an old fir like this one does it’s job wonderfully. And if we let it stay alive and upright, it doesn’t release it back out for a long time. So old firs in general do the work of a Peacemaker, the work of a Bodhisattva, by taking action and using it’s ingredients in life to heal this world. And this old Bodhisattva does it beautifully in this moment, in this particular corner of the world.

The Thai Buddhist tradition has some monks that have been giving Buddhist ordination to trees in areas where forest companies are looking to cut everything down. In their Buddhist context it is well known and respected that it brings bad karma to hurt anyone in the Sangha of ordained monks. So an ordained tree can’t be cut down without karmic consequences. This has actually saved a lot of areas from clear cutting.

Inspired by this practice we decided to give our old fir Bodhisattva a Peacemaker ordination and make it part of our Sangha. We adorned it in Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags, and did a meditation together. I also recited the Peacemaker Precepts to it. The fir just stood there in silence. A couple of weeks later we came back on a Day of Reflection. We did a sitting meditation together, and chanted The Three Refuges, Prajna Paramita Hrdaya, Kannongyo and the Bodhisattva vows. I gave a short talk about the peacemaker work this old tree does, and asked it to uphold the precepts. It stayed silent and still.

After the ordination I reached out to the owner of the forest and asked him not to cut down our Sangha member. We talked for a long time about forests, biological diversity, rare birds and old trees. He promised so spare this old tree, and also asked us to let him know if we found any other nature conservation species or endangered species in his forests. So now this old Peacemaker and fir Bodhisattva stands there and will hopefully continue to do it’s work in the forest for a long, long time to come.


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