Heaven is eternal and Earth lasting.
They are lasting and eternal
Because they do not live for themselves.
Therefore, can they live forever.
“Tao Te Ching (Dao de Ching): The Book of Meaning and Life”
Translations by Richard Wilhelm (1978) and H. G. Oswald (1985)
I am reminded of this quote, as I ponder the lessons recently learned from a silver maple tree. The tree, which voluntarily self-planted in a location of our yard that has been unlucky for trees, has recently had to be removed, due to infestation or infection. The decision to remove the deceased tree was very difficult for me, because I love and identify with every tree; however, in the end, I realized that it was necessary for the health of the balance of our little ecosystem.
That realization of balance brought me also to another realization – that the tree itself does not stand alone as a single individual, but is a messenger of the Earth and is a part of that whole…and that Lao Tzu was stating the same thing in the quotation above. The natural world (which can be called Gaia or Spirit or the Universe) is the Oversoul – the ultimate bodhisattva. This Divine Energy is manifested in Nature and all of Nature is an embrace. Each tree is a messenger, testifying to what is right and beautiful or, in the case of the silver maple, that something is not in balance.
The tree has not “died” by being removed; it has simply taken another form as another aspect of that Universal Spirit. In the same fashion, no soul dies because there is no individual soul – all is part of the Oversoul and All is Eternal.
Some monotheists put themselves above the angels (and, hence, above “God”) by believing in the immutable individuality of each “individual” soul – this is Ego. The older faiths understand the All and understand that, when there is imbalance, we need to cleanse what is wrong, but do it within the context of the Whole, the All.
In this way, “Heaven is eternal and Earth lasting” and “[T]herefore, can they live forever.” In this way, also, we – and the trees – will live forever…in ultimate Peace.