The Value of Trees
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi, a humanitarian and spiritual leader known all over the world as Amma or Mother, has told us that in ancient times in India people would perform rituals to worship trees, especially if there was a need to cut a tree down and sometimes even before plucking its fruit or leaves.
Amma says that in the old days there was no need for environmental preservation because protecting nature was part of the way of life and was a way of worshipping God.In those days, when people needed to cut down a tree they would plant not just one but several more to replace it. More than remembering ‘God’, people’s lives were spent loving and serving society and Nature. They saw the Creator in the creation. They loved, worshipped and protected Nature as a visible form of God.
“The creation and the Creator are not two but one,” Amma constantly reminds us. The various environmental programs and ‘green initiatives’ run by Amma’s ashram are motivated by and based on this principle. In Indian philosophy, everything that one sees can serve as a reminder of the all-pervasive nature of the Divine, and this way of looking at things is deeply embedded in the Indian culture. Amma’s perspective shows her deep understanding that all names and forms are but various manifestations of the one, all-pervasive consciousness that is the substratum of the whole of creation.
Nature is a beautiful expression of creation. When spending time in Nature, many people find a connection within, a space for reflection, and a refuge. Once we begin to feel this connection, we often feel inspired to serve all living beings. Amma says, “Only through love and compassion is the protection and preservation of nature possible.” Amma’s Green Initiatives are a place where worship and service become one.
When we realize that all beings are interconnected, how can we dump toxic waste into rivers? How can we destroy our forests? How can we pollute the air with poisonous fumes from our factories?
Amma’s Ashram offers several programs that serve Mother Nature, reawakening the world to the spiritual principles that have protected our environment for millennia.
Importance of Forests
Amma tells us, “Forests play the most important role in maintaining Nature’s harmony. It is only due to them that there is any semblance of harmony in the world today.”
While scientists have known for years that trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is one of the gases causing global warming, it is only recently that they have discovered that this is not the only or perhaps even the most important effect that forests have.
An international study published in ‘Nature Climate Change’ says that trees also regulate the exchange of energy between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere. Because of their height, trees powerfully affect heat transfer by causing movement of the surrounding air, and also by releasing moisture into the air.
“Forests play a more important role in cooling the surface in almost all regions of the Earth than was previously thought,” said study co-author Kaiguang Zhao, assistant professor of environmental modeling and spatial analysis at the Ohio State University. “This really affirms the value of forest conservation and protection policies in the fight against climate change,” he added.
Trees and forests also produce oxygen, clean and filter rainwater, and help retain water in the ground, as well as reduce levels of air pollution. As Amma reminds us, “We must stop polluting and exploiting Mother Nature. We have to protect her in order to ensure our survival as well as the survival of future generations.
Trees and forests also produce oxygen, clean, and filter rainwater, help retain water in the ground, and reduce levels of air pollution. As Amma reminds us, “We must stop polluting and exploiting Mother Nature. We have to protect her in order to ensure our survival as well as the survival of future generations.
“Nature is our first mother. She nurtures us throughout our lives. Our birth mother may allow us to sit on her lap for a couple of years, but Mother Nature patiently bears our weight our entire life… Just as a child is obligated to his birth mother, we should all feel an obligation and responsibility toward Mother Nature.”
After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Amma’s Embracing the World charitable organization helped plant 30,000 saplings on India’s coast to help stabilize 13 kilometres of coastline. Embracing the World has organized the planting of more than a million trees in the world since 2001, and is a member of the United Nations Billion Trees Campaign.
Amma has said, “Each country should try to protect its remaining forests, and plant as many trees as possible.” But she is not suggesting we simply rely on our governments to do this work. “Individually, we should each make a vow to plant at least one tree a month, so that in a year each person will plant 12 trees,” she says.
In September 2013, Embracing the World announced a new goal: to plant six million trees worldwide. Wherever you live in the world, you too can participate!
“Plant trees. It is a blessing to do so. Trees outlive us and provide fruit and shade to coming generations. Together we can restore nature’s beauty to the face of the world. Planting a tree is selfless service to society. Just as we enjoy the presence of trees planted by people in the past, we too should plant for the future generations.” – Amma