Once a long time ago, during an extremely challenging moment in my life, I visited the Redwood Forest in Northern California. Even though I was not alone, everyone grew quiet, as did I, walking the path among the trees. Several were on the ground. I stood next to one that had fallen and, on its side, it was taller than my 5’8″ frame. The quiet soothed my soul, my mind, and my heart. The life force energy of the trees towering above me was palpable and I felt as though I could feel them breathing.
On the path leading back to the parking area, I came upon a Redwood with an opening in its trunk. The opening did not go through the tree. It was inviting and I walked toward it, touching the bark on its sides as I approached. I looked inside and it was clean and had a fresh aroma to it. I stepped inside and felt myself gasp softly. I was standing inside a Redwood tree! The top of the curved opening skimmed my hair as I turned my palms outward to rest against its “skin.” Closing my eyes, I was transported to another level of awareness. I felt the flow of my breath and the beat of my heart – both quiet and gentle. The life force energy of the tree pulsed into my hands and I remember thinking “I can feel you breathing! I can sense the flow of sap, of life running through you!”
I do not know how much time passed. It didn’t matter to me; nothing mattered except the oneness I was experiencing. “I” disappeared as did “Tree.” There was only the One. Later I realized that I had, in those moments, known the truth of non-duality. Everything is one thing.
At one point I knew that, should I so choose, I conly disappear into that tree. The oneness would become a physical reality and I could share life with that tree until it’s years came to an end. I breathed deeply on the brink of full immersion and thought of the depth of oneness with my children. I could feel and see them so clearly in my heart. They would be left without ever knowing what had become of me; they would be told I “disappeared without a trace.” Ahimsa (Do no violence) came to mind, the fundamental principal of my yoga practice. My choice was made: this moment of non-dual bliss must not become the source of such emotional, mental trauma (violence) for my children. With soft tears flowing, I breathed awareness into my own body, my personality, my humanity.
Physically, I walked out of “Tree” and returned to “me.” On every other level, that bond, that sense of oneness, has remained these past 19 years. That day, in the giant Redwood, non-duality evolved from concept to reality. My gratitude abounds for my teacher whom I call “Tree.”
Everything is one thing.