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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

World Parliament of Religions, III: Re-imagining a Tree of Life

World Parliament of Religions, III: Re-imagining a Tree of Life

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Monday, October 19, 2015/Categories: wildlife conservation, sustainability, art and design, environment

e       A Re-imagined Tree of Life from the Sikh perspective   (credit: Riled Up)

Riled UP has commented on the wide-ranging symbolism of the Tree of Life to many cultures before so it wasn't surprising to encounter a representation of one at the just concluded Parliament of World Religions, 2015. This Tree was created by the  Sikhs , a major religious sect from India and elsewhere.

Representatives from the Sikh community in England had constructed a langar, a communal lunch room, to provide free meals for conference attendees and a series of panels were on display around the room describing their tradition of personal service and responsibility. The Sikhs re-imagined a Tree of Life using both traditional and contemporary symbolism. In their representation, the Tree was divided into two symmetric portions with each leaf taking on a specific symbolic meaning on the branches. 

 Sample Leave on the Sikhs 'Tree of Life' with Virtues and Actions + PhD candidate explainers: (credit: Riled Up)

The Sikhs believe specific virtues are the keys for a person to live a complete life. From their perspective, these traditional virtues should be aspirations for anyone to develop and include:

being accountable and living with integrity; being merciful and forgiving; caring for others, animals and the environment, being curious and gaining new knowledge; appreciating beauty; conserve for posterity; remembering your roots; and to exercise compassion daily.

These traits were shown as individual leaves on the right-hand branches of the Sikhs contemporary Tree while on the left-hand branches were actions they felt appropriate to try and accomplish by putting them into practice. These actions follow the  Millennium Development Goals  for sustainable development set in 2000 by the United Nations. These included:

to eradicate poverty and hunger; to improve primary education; to promote gender equality; to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health; to combat infectious diseases; to ensure environmental sustainability; and to develop global development partnerships.

Mendeep Sehmi, a PhD candidate at Coventry University in the UK, said:

"Sikhs believe in combining the secular and the sacred. In order for the tree to be fruitful, you must put the virtues into action since the "tree" is the person." and concluded: "you should reach for the stars but keep your feet rooted as the tree is not only for this life but also the next one."


After wandering the conference halls, lecture rooms, and display areas it seemed like the Sikhs presented some of the most lofty of goals while maintaining realistic ideas of how to approach environmental and other situations we experience today. Their lunches were delicious as well.


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