Imagine, just for a moment, that God has hidden within every person the same dream.
Imagine that he caused people in every culture of the world to experience this dream–and that we will one day remember it, together:
Lying on solid earth, you feel encircled, as if in a great gathering. Your ears buzz with the rustling of leaves. The air is astir with a conflagration, the roaring of fire. Your eyes, though enveloped in light, are shut. Everything is bathed in heat and light. The sensation of it builds on your skin. Your attention awakens, your arms, limbs, every member of your body is ignited by a divine love. It fills your heart, pulls you upward, calls you to step forward. You stand beneath the source, a great tree, ablaze, though none of its leaves or fruits is consumed. In a momentary stillness you hear three words being called out from the tree. You wake up, heart beating though you’ve forgotten why.
This dream I’ve portrayed depicts a universal symbol–the Tree of Life, mentioned in the Torah when it describes the Garden of Eden. Moses beheld it in the wilderness of Sinai, and the fire of it called to him. Buddha attained enlightenment sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree. Ancient Egyptian mythology tells of the first couple, male and female, emerging from a “tree in which life and death are enclosed.” Jews called it etz chaim, and in the book of Proverbs it referred to Divine Revelation itself. Jewish mystics saw the Tree of Life reflected in the human body in the sefirot. An Eastern Christian saint said, “the tree of life is the love of God.” The Qur’an says that God’s light shines out from the Sidrat al-Muntaha, the divine lote-tree, which marks the boundary of all creation. The Baha’i writings say that magnificent tree of life symbolizes the prophets of God, whose guidance protects and nourishes everyone. The Tree of Life in cultures all around the world represents the center of everything or axis mundi, the balance between masculine and feminine, and the meeting place of heaven and earth.
The Baha’i teachings invite us to remember this sacred and symbolic meeting place, as if hearing a call or remembering a dream. With these mystical quotes from the Baha’i writings, please feel invited to reflect and meditate on this rich and ancient metaphor, the Tree of Life:
Incline thine ear unto the voice of thy Lord, the Lord of all mankind, calling from the Divine Lote-Tree.
By My life! This is the truth, and all else naught but error. This is the Day wherein the divine Lote-Tree calleth aloud saying: O people! Behold ye My fruits and My leaves, incline then your ears unto My rustling. Beware lest the doubts of men debar you from the light of certitude.
Say, this indeed is the Frequented Fane, the sweet-scented Leaf, the Tree of the divine Revelation, the surging Ocean, the Utterance which lay concealed, the Light above every other light… Indeed every light is generated by God through the power of His behest. He of a truth is the Light in the kingdom of heaven and earth and whatever is between them. Through the radiance of His light God imparteth illumination to your hearts and maketh firm your steps, that perchance ye may yield praise unto Him. Say, this of a certainty is the Garden of Repose, the Loftiest Point of adoration, the Tree beyond which there is no passing, the blessed Lote-Tree… – The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 154-155.
The undying Fire which the Lord of the Kingdom hath kindled in the midst of the holy Tree is burning fiercely in the midmost heart of the world. The conflagration it will provoke will envelop the whole earth. Its blazing flames will illuminate its peoples and kindreds. All the signs have been revealed; every prophetic allusion hath been manifested. Whatever hath been enshrined in all the Scriptures of the past hath been made evident. To doubt or hesitate is no more possible… Time is pressing. – Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in Shoghi Effendi’s The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 111.
Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awestruck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, pp. 27-28.
If you meditate on this beautiful and meaningful image it may appear throughout your reading of the Baha’i Writings, in popular culture, and art. It amazes me that this call to remember is everywhere! I’ll see you, as we awaken, under the Tree.