Banyan trees are large, stately trees that grow all over Rishikesh. Their trunks are very wide and layered, looking as if a grove of trees has merged and grown together into one super tree. They look almost like the equivalent of the blue whale in the tree kingdom: large, gentle, sonorous. They are sacred here. Many are adorned with red, yellow and white paint and tied with red strings around their trunk, some have offerings of candles and flowers at their base. All feel ancient and wise, as if they’ve seen a thousand buddhas beneath their gnarled branches. If you are quiet and sit with them in their shade, they will teach you to meditate. Sit up straight, they say. Ground yourself. Feel the sun. Vibrate, grow, just be. Do nothing, which is everything.
What strikes one most about the banyan tree is the growth of the roots. Instead of building a subterranean root system and then reaching up out of the ground to build a tree in the expected tree fashion, the roots of the banyan tree appear to grow down out of the branches of the tree. It almost looks like fringe hanging down off the sleeve of a jacket. Ever so slowly the roots grow further and further from the sky down, reaching towards a ground they trust is there. There is no way these roots can know for sure the ground is there, that their nourishment and life will be provided for. But the tree trusts. It knows innately to put down roots, to patiently continue to grow, because some day they will find nourishing soil.
Can we do that as humans? Can we grow our roots without any way of knowing that something will take? Can we reach for our dreams without any reassurance that they will manifest? Can we release fear and walk boldly into trust? What if humans became like banyan trees, gently growing the roots of our own highest potential, knowing that God is managing the process and the someday we will reach the fertile soil of our own manifestation? No angst from the banyan tree, no drama from us, just utter belief that what it needs and what we need will be there in the end.
Be brave, the Banyan trees say to us. Be brave.