While Padmasambhava was engaged in high deserts enroute to Samye, another traveling magician was engraving his own solutions into a rock in the West Mojave.
An ancient American, who stopped at a rock not far from here. "American," as in north, central, and south: the Americas.
When we fully explore the Americas, we will re-write world history. Those coca leaves in the mummified Pharoah's mouth didn't get there by accident. They were delivered there to deliberate purpose, on account of known effect. To ancient Egypt, from the ancient Americas. Clearly, the ancient American medicine men were exporters.
So, then --
We write today of Tree Practice.
It came to me when I was looking at the picture carved in the rock.
From a wish to benefit others, whilst understanding that everything is fundamentally an illusion, we set forth our intention to engage in symbolic, ritual activity centered on Jambudvipa's trees.
What does that mean? For me, it means conducting interdependency analysis of the act of planting trees in the desert.
Contemplating the desert in what promises to be a long drought, the notion of new trees seems somehow counterintuitive. If trees are dying because of the drought, why are we planting new trees? Won't they die off like the other trees? Won't they unnecessarily consume dwindling water supplies? Most all of these questions are already answered when one shakes off the familiar desert stereotypes.
Deserts are not uniform. Rather, they consist of microclimates created from the earth element by wind and the element water. The microclimates can even display abrupt boundaries, such as rain falling on one side of a road but not the other.
What these microclimates do have in common is the so-called empty jar effect. If you put a ceramic jar out on the ground, it will never fill up with water. The sum of evaporation and transpiration will always exceed surface water gain. Within the compass of that definition, you can include high deserts, low deserts, hot deserts, and cold deserts.
Thus, as a desert dweller, I speak not of deserts but of "arid regions."
Certain trees are appropriate to the various microclimates of the world's arid regions. The microclimates have specific soils, temperatures, altitudes, and so forth. The trees appropriate to each place will intimately relate to all surrounding life. They will become the habitat for insects, birds, small mammals, and reptiles.
Quite a challenge, when I look around. Needs to be examined in a sacred manner.
The pictured rock picture, above, is a few minutes away from here. In fact, it isn't far from the oldest living plant on the face of the planet earth!
And what of "here?" Here is where wild, scorching winds are born. The Santa Ana winds. Southern California's murder wind, fire wind, passion wind. Here is the highest recorded temperature, the lowest recorded point; where you can ride from 85m below sea level to 1500m above sea level in an afternoon, where you can drown in a flash flood, or freeze to death in spring. A complex of arid valleys in the rain shadow of California's Pacific-facing mountains.
The trees dying in the drought are not the trees that are supposed to be here.
Still, the life that trees support needs to be supported. If that be the case, it seems appropriate, a sane thing to do, to rearrange the set. Make it more authentic. Find out what sort of trees occur here, and support them.
Seems the right way to go about a drought in the desert is to plant native trees.
From a wish to benefit others, whilst understanding that everything is fundamentally an illusion, we set forth our intention to engage in virtuous conduct centered on Jambudvipa's trees.
When we take refuge in the Three Jewels, I and others are able to understand trees as a living instruction in the three bodies.
In the midst of space:
From what is already perfect, nothing can be taken or given -- by planting trees, I neither add to nor take away from that perfection, nor is the activity itself anything other than sacred activity in accord with time and place.
Calling upon the elements: calling to all tree spirits of all directions, those free, those oath-bound, and all those other beings interested in the welfare of this mandala: see, here, this offering! The earth, the nutrient, the water, the sky.
Joy, amidst the leaves, the flowers, the branches, the fruit, the shelter, the shade, the resting place, the home: the lessons we learn are limitless.
Let it please you. to the extent thoughts of enough or not enough are dispensed as enough.
Come here! See this offering where the earth touches the sky.
To the teachers before us in the form of trees, I offer all that supports your life. I beg you remain here in peace and harmony, and continue to sustain life on earth. May you be nourished by love and unaffected by mistaken views.
May understanding your sacred reality lead to recognition that all things are indistinguishable from the Guru's mind.
In space, where everything is possible, the aspiration accompanying this conduct will come to fruition in time, so let the time be now, and let the benefit be experienced by those beings in need of beneficial experience.
Those with the ability to travel between worlds have returned to this one from their travels.
Long ago, they brought back the news that among all worlds only ours has trees.
So, that is what we've been up to these days, out here in the long pause we've been given before heat rises. Trying our best to plant a few trees with all of you in mind.