Sighting of Bodhi trees

4 March 2011 - 8:34pm 1 Comment

As the symbol for compassion and enlightenment, Bodhi trees can be found in almost every Buddhist monastery. This is hardly a surprise given the energy generated by the monastic community’s ultimate goal – to practice undiscriminating compassion, and achieve enlightenment.

Recently, Bodhi trees have been sprouting wherever His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche, spiritual guide of Kechara, has a presence. It began with sprouts of a bodhi tree outside Rinpoche’s former Ladrang (a high Lama’s residence and private office), followed by sprouts outside of Kechara House’s gompa. The latest Bodhi tree has sprouted as an offshoot from a frangipani tree outside Rinpoche’s current residence.

The Bodhi tree outside Rinpoche's current residence

It is very rare to see a Bodhi tree growing in Malaysia, because they are not native to this country. The tree also does not grow very easily, often taking 100 to 3000 years to become fully mature.

Since Bodhi trees are not native to Malaysia, there is no reason why they should be growing so frequently in this country…and so close to Rinpoche! Signs like this are therefore very auspicious as Bodhi trees represent compassion; it is said that Bodhi trees manifest where holy beings reside or where holy activities are conducted.

The Bodhi trees sprouting wherever Rinpoche goes is reminiscent of a story about Lama Tsongkhapa and the sandalwood tree. According to the legend, Tsongkhapa’s father took the afterbirth (placenta and fetal membranes) of his son and buried it in the ground. Moments later, a sandalwood tree grew right where the afterbirth was buried. The tree is now famously known as the Tree of Great Merit and emitting a pleasing scent, it also bears the impressions of the Buddha’s face and various holy syllables.

The Bodhi tree association with Buddhism and Enlightenment goes all the way back to the time of Siddhartha Guatama, the historical Buddha who is said to have achieved Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India. The current tree there is now widely regarded to be the direct descendant of the original specimen which Buddha sat under.

The Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya

Because of its close association with Enlightenment, which is the goal of all Buddhist practitioners, the tree has great sacred and symbolic significance. In the centuries after the Buddha, the Bodhi tree became a symbol of the Buddha’s presence and an object of worship.

With the blessings of the Buddha, we hope many Bodhi trees will appear at Kechara World Peace Centre in the future, a place where hundreds if not thousands of people will gather in the search for eternal happiness.