Would the Buddha Trim the Bodhi Tree?

by Bob Schwartz

Back in December on Bodhi Day (the celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment), I gave myself a present:

This Bodhi Day, I gifted myself a bodhi tree, just like the one that the Buddha was sitting under when he was enlightened. Almost just like it. This bonsai ficus religiosa is about 8 inches high, so I will not be sitting under it.

I’ve taken good care of this very hardy bonsai and it has grown well. That leaves me with a conundrum. The aesthetics of bonsai includes appropriate trimming to maintain a certain balance. But each time I consider taking scissors to growth, I stop. If it grows lush and green, let it grow.

Then I thought of the Buddha’s own Bodhi tree. There are no tales of his considering trimming that tree. That doesn’t mean he didn’t think about it—or not think about it.

So, as I continue to water this beautiful little tree, a new koan appears: Would the Buddha trim the Bodhi tree?

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