During my weekend trip, one of the sights that caught my eye was a temple that is just a short walk from our organic vegetable farm. The temple, like most Thai temples, is lovely. This one is a small, but still beautifully ornamented,. However,, what really caught my eye was a huge banyan tree in the middle of a large open courtyard space between the temple and its other ancillary buildings that included a dining hall and dormitories for the monks.
This banyan tree was huge. Because of the root system that can extend for dozens of metres, banyan trees are best left to grow in open areas, such as this courtyard. When they are planted too close to buildings, their roots can cause huge problems including cracked slabs and pipes, flooding and general havoc. This was true at our acute care campus where two banyan trees had to sadly be removed because their roots were destroying our x-ray department. In March 2014, I posted a requiem entry here.
This particular banyan tree, as mentioned, was huge. It was so large and old that it seems like the monks felt it deserved its own Spirit House. I have never seen a banyan tree so well protected by Spirits. It must truly be a treasured tree in this this temple community. The banyan tree has always been an important part of Buddhist and Hindu culture. In Hinduism, the leaf of the banyan tree is said to be the resting place for the god Krishna. And in Buddhism, this tree is often seen to be representative of a respect for the sanctity of life.
The Spirit House at the base of this banyan tree demonstrated the clear respect that the monks at this temple have for this tree. While it is not a fancy Spirit House and while it needs to be protected from vermin, it sits at the base of a magnificent tree protecting it from threats that would harm it.