Apple Tree Story Comment
"I couldn't help commenting on the Apple tree story. Apple trees have apples to procreate. They want animals / birds to eat the apples and poop the seeds out to spread their genes. It's a symbiotic relationship rather than one of selflessness...."
The example of an apple tree is commonly given in yoga philosophy to illustrate what causes stress.
It's true that the apple tree wants to procreate, but the key is that it will not be upset or stressed out if someone likes the apples or not, if the apple seeds become trees or not. It produces apples because that is what it's meant to do by nature.
In comparison, as people, we find it hard to let go of the fruits of our actions. If you teach a dance or yoga class, and some people don't come back, it's natural to ask if they liked the class or not.
The apple tree doesn't ask. It just gives and gives and does what it's meant to do.
"I think yoga is great. As a scientist, I have difficulty with some of the analogies... I hope you don't mind my belaboring this.
An apple tree tries to have the most enticing fruit (in fact 3 of the worlds religions revolve around this concept - not that that's ok...) to seduce the picking/eating of them to spread its genes around as much as it can.
Just because we can't "communicate" with the apple tree to understand this desire, it's apparent when an apple tree does not produce enticing fruit, something is wrong. (Same with flowers. It might appear they don't care if the bees take their pollen, but it's fundamental to their reproduction or they will die out. Hence, they try to make themselves the most attractive (e.g. give the best service) so the bees will visit.)
So in conclusion, Nature does care if the apple is chosen, and if not, it will wipe out the apple tree if it's not "popular"."
Yes, scientifically, you are correct.
Yoga and other spiritual philosophies such as Buddhism and Sufism are full of metaphors, stories, and analogies to illustrate specific points (and not so much to be scientifically correct).
The goal of yoga is achieving lasting Happiness and Inner Peace. An apple tree example is a useful tool to reduce stress and let go of expectations - to think how the apple tree just gives without worry. It doesn't get upset.
Maybe, on some level, the apple tree feels a loss if its apples are wasted. But it's nothing similar to what our anti-depressant and anxiety-medication culture has to deal with, and what stressful predicaments our ego-driven minds get us into.
Non-Attachment to Procreating. Is there such a thing?by Anonymous:
This apple tree story is very comforting, yet it hits an unsettled string in my consciousness. I am a wife and mother of 2. I have a sense that I will not be happy if I do not allow myself to have a 3rd child. My husband says he is happy with the 2 we have and does not have any desire for more kids.
I feel that if I am just happy with what I have, I may be depriving the 3rd one from a life of its own... I feel like I am not completely life giving. The apples in the tree are like the potential future apple trees... like the eggs in a woman's body. But we have a bit more control about when we make trees (children) than the apple tree.
How do we exercise that control when we are striving to be non-attached? Can the concept of non-attachment be employed meaningfully to our human drive to procreate (as opposed to just sex)?
One has to ask oneself: Who is the "I" that is desiring?
There is an "I" whose desires will never be fulfilled - the personal limited ego-driven "I". The "I" is always afraid to lose what it has and always desires for more. The "I" is an essential and necessary part of our mind. It is the whole reason we have spiritual traditions like Yoga and Buddhism, to realize that we are not the selfish "I".
There is an "I" who has no desires - the selfless Universal "I" - the deepest part of who are are - which we 'feel' when the "I"-mind is quiet, when the mind is stunned into a momentary silence by natural beauty, or a work of art, or deliberate meditation practice.
I hope this helps to answer your question. There is nothing wrong with wanting more children of course.
But, isn't the desire to procreate one of the ultimate expressions of our ego?
If it wasn't for the ego, I wonder if the human race would make it this far.
At the same time, to give birth and care for another life is one of the ultimate expressions of selflessness. To care for a child is a profound lesson in selflessness and compassion.
However, these virtues, selflessness and compassion, are only there for the ego. More specifically, for the purification of the ego and letting go of our own selfless tendencies.
The Universal Self needs no such practices. It is exactly the place where such virtues come from. It is the part of us that informs the mind to be more selfless.
Bottom line is, can your caring for another child be a lesson in compassion and selflessness? Or is there a selfish need there?
Good luck and Namaste!