Not seeing the trees for the wood...

Thursday July 5, 2007

Seeing the trees for the wood...

I can’t claim this insight for myself. Last weekend I was down once again at Gaia House, on a weekend metta retreat, which was much needed. I did a lot of sleeping and a lot of meditation, not all of it at the same time. Anyway, as we hurtling back up the M5 motorway to Birmingham, we were talking about various matters – philosophy, meditation, the virtues of the chocolate muffins we had just been eating in the service station – and Elee (who was at the wheel of the hire car), turning the well-worn phrase on its head, said something about “not seeing the trees for the wood.”

It is a striking idea, and it seemed to fit in with my mood after the retreat. How much time do I spend not seeing the trees for the wood? It is so easy to get lost in large, grand-sounding abstractions, and in doing so, to miss the close, intimate business of living. Which is, I think, why I find meditation retreats useful. They give a chance to spend some time returning one’s attention to the trees, whilst letting the wood look after itself.

Tags: , ,
 
#1 · PeterAtLarge

6 July 2007

A nice observation! I also get lost in my grand theories and plans, and forget that it’s not about those great unknowables, but about what’s immediate and real. Thanks for the thought. Cheers, PaL

#2 · Alexia

4 January 2011

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and one of the main reasons I moved to Asia. I found that, in England, it was all about how grand the wood; here in Korea, even the branches are interesting, and I find myself noticing the leaves.

Comments are turned off for this article.