Saturday, September 16, 2006

Betel Tree Spirit in Penang

The New Paper on 15th Sep 2006 did a report on a certain human face which recently grew out of a betel nut tree in a Penang village. While droves of curious people went to see for themselves, some also harm the tree by cutting off its roots, which they believed had healing powers. The villagers are very much against this type of inconsiderate people.Look at how human-like the face is! Some say the face changes everyday, but it sure looks damn unhappy here. Maybe its those dumb people who are cutting the roots pissing it off. That's why they call it a "ghost tree". Chinese visitors also started to offer joss sticks & flowers to this ghost tree, praying for 4-D numbers. Some of the smart villagers also sell photos of the face to visitors for 2 ringgit each. I think they might as well get a bomoh to make amulets out of its betel nuts. Why hasn't anybody thought of it yet? This also reminds me of the tree shrine in Choa Chu Kang where they found a Lukkok. I wonder which Ajahn wannabe buried it there, of all places. When there's so many people praying there, someone is sure to discover his "baby"! Well now that its with the police, some people have put up a separate shrine there to make offerings to the baby spirit. Wierd stuff..

The Vinaya says that:

"The damaging of a living plant is an offence to be confessed."

The story goes that during the Buddha's time a certain Alavi bhikkhu was chopping down a tree. The devata living in the tree said to the bhikkhu,
"Sir, do not chop down my dwelling to build a dwelling for yourself."
The bhikkhu, paying no attention, continued chopping and injured the arm of the devata's child. The devata thought:
"What if I were to kill this bhikkhu right here?"
Then another thought occurred to her:
"But no, that wouldn't be proper. What if I were to inform the Blessed One of this matter?"
So she went to the Blessed One and on arrival informed him of what had happened.
"Very good, devata. It's very good that you didn't kill the bhikkhu. If you had, you would have produced much demerit for yourself. Now go, devata. Over there is a vacant tree. Go into it."

(The Commentary adds here that the tree, being in the Jetavana Monastery, was one of the choicest pieces of devata real estate in those days. Other devas coming to pay their respects to the Buddha also made a point of paying their respects to the devata living in this tree.)

People were offended and annoyed and spread it about, "How can these Sakyan recluses chop down trees and have them cut up? They are destroying one-facultied life."

This news report is living proof that there ARE Devatas or in this case, spirits that make dwellings out of any tree taller than a man. If we are not careful when dealing with these trees, these supernatural beings could very well harm or even kill us for destroying their houses. That is why we should not just respect animals, but all plant life as well.

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