Gurdjieff International Review

The Mystery of Trees

Richard Whittaker


moment in which one gets a glimpse of the reality of being is unforgettable. Such a moment took place for me once as I stood on a large lawn at our property, “the Woods.” The lawn is circled on three sides by an amphitheater of stately trees—mostly Douglas firs and second growth redwoods.

For years, I’d seen them. But this day something called me to stop. What was I seeing? This was the question I asked myself. I let myself stand there as the minutes passed. After a few minutes a shift took place. I suddenly could feel how each tree expressed a reaching toward the sun. Expressed? No, this doesn’t quite capture it. This was a living fact taking place in the present moment—a response to the sun, a response to the radiations of the sun.

On a chilly day, walking in the shadows, then suddenly stepping into the sunlight and feeling the warmth on one’s back, delicious. How is it we are just at the right distance from that great source of life to feel its radiations as delicious? And trees, in their growing, stretch up, reach out with their branches, to receive this food. They eat the radiations of sunlight.

Their growing upward, and the spreading outward of their branches, it’s entirely guided by their contact with (their awareness of?) these radiations traveling to earth from so far away, 93 million miles away. In the seeing of this, was the feeling of something like prayer.

And how to express this part, the ethereal?—that there’s a vastness between our planet and the sun—empty space, as one who is not a quantum physicist might say. And yet the radiations awakened the chemical, rocky, material substances of the proto earth. What was it that took place (and continues to take place) in the micro realms of materiality touched by these solar energies? If one could look closely enough at this meeting, had micro vision, what would be seen? □

Richard Whittaker is the West Coast Editor for the magazine Parabola: The Search for Meaning, the founding editor of the magazine works & conversations, and is a long-time member of the Gurdjieff Foundation in San Francisco.


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Featured: Winter 2019/2020 Issue, Vol. XIV (1)
Revision: August 13, 2020