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Transforming Nature

Last week a friend sent me pictures of amazingly grown trees. I found out that they were originally grown by Axel Erlandson (1884-1964), the son of Swedish immigrants in Central California. He shaped his trees for over 40 years and created the worlds most outstanding examples of Arborsculpture. He would create designs on paper first and then plant in the specified patterns; pruning, grafting and bending them. When Erlandson was asked how he got his trees to grow like this, he would reply, “I talk to them.”

Later the trees were put into a park to attract people to the Tree Circus.

What we call our character can be cultivated in a similar way. We can transform our nature through loving attention and long-lasting focus. This process of cultivation of character through right thinking and living has been beautifully described by Thackerey in his words:

“Sow a thought and reap an action; sow an action and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap character; sow character and reap destiny.”

The effort to control one’s lower impulses needs repetition, until it becomes a habit, a second nature. When a new habit is established, the repetition needs no effort after a certain time. The habit will be engrafted, like the grafting of a tree. When you keep a branch of a tree under soil for some time, the branch begins to send roots into the soil, making it an independent tree, so that you can cut off the branch from the parent tree to make it an independent plant. So a new habit should become independent of the old, unprogressive habit, and cutt off from the old one.

This is the purpose of repetition in learning new things and especially in spiritual training. See also the Lunar Messenger on “The Power of Habit”.

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