06 May 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: In praise of tall trees

What can we learn from a magnificent oak? A photographic essay

Consider this. Here is a one hundred year old red oak in full autumn colour. A giant of a tree with a massive canopy, and beauty for all to see.

What then if I showed you this – a diminutive object that can be cradled in the palm of your hand?

Now, if you knew nothing of botany, the science to do with plants, and I was to tell you that this thing was an acorn and all you need to do is put one of these into suitable prepared soil and nurture it appropriately and you could produce a regal oak tree, you could be forgiven for thinking I was mad.

There is a huge lesson to learn from this metaphor, but first

Thought for the Day
Untamed beings are as unlimited as space.

You will never be able to overcome them all.

Yet, if you could simply overcome the hatred in your mind, 

You will find that it is as if you have overcome them all.

How can you possibly find enough leather

To cover the earth?

But if you could just wear leather sandals,

You will find it to be as if you have covered the earth.

In the same way, you will never be able to change

All external objects.

But if you change your own mind,

There is no need to change anything else.
             Shantideva 8th century Indian, Buddhist scholar and author of the Bodhicaryavatara, A Guide             to the Bodhisattva's Way Of Life

So here is the thing. 
Knowing that an acorn will produce an oak, knowing the conditions an acorn needs to grow into an oak, gives the confidence to plant a few and support their growth:

Above on the left is a one year old baby, nestled amongst pea straw and major protection from rabbits and deer.
On the right, a three year old beginning to make its way.

Now, above we have a six year old, well able to maintain itself in the midst of a big space.
And on the right, a nine year old, beginning to look like its parent, the big tree above whose acorns produced all these youngsters.

But there is more. If on a grander scale, one did know the laws of botany, the laws that govern how plants function; how they live and grow and flourish; one could plan, plant, cultivate and sustain a beautiful garden.

In the same manner, if one did know the laws that govern how the mind functions; how the mind helps a person to live and grow and flourish; one could plan, cultivate and sustain a beautiful life.

Makes simple sense of learning more about the mind and making the time to train the mind!

The 2 top ways to develop mindfulness in daily life

The Mind that Changes everything


Please Note: Orders from the blog have been redirected to the Gawler Foundation, but presently their on-line ordering system is being updated and is non-functional, so to order you need to ring them 03 59671730, or email info@gawler.org.

BOOK: The Mind that Changes Everything

CD: Mind Training  

Mind Training in Melbourne!

Melbourne Workshops –NEXT WEEKEND 

Saturday May 11th : Meditation and the Power of the Mind 
Like a mini meditation retreat. A great chance to refresh, learn some more and deepen meditation in good company.

Sunday May 12th : Living Well, Being Well
Looking after ourselves, maintaining a healthy, healing, vital lifestyle takes some doing. Come along and be reminded of what is important, learn of new research and how it applies in daily life, and be re-invigorated! Lots of new material on nutrition, epigenetics, telomere science and neuroplasticity.

Bring the family, invite a friend or two, inform your colleagues! Maybe you know someone living in Melbourne who would benefit/like to attend.

For full details and to book, LINK HERE

Avaaz helps to save Europe's bees!

Europe has just banned bee-killing pesticides!! Bees pollinate two thirds of all our food -- so when scientists noticed that silently, they were dying at a terrifying rate due to toxic pesticide useage, Avaaz swung in to action. This week’s victory is the result of two years of flooding ministers with messages, organizing media-grabbing protests with beekeepers, funding opinion polls and much, much more.

Mega-corporations like Bayer threw everything they had at this, but people-power, science and good governance came out on top!!  All supported big time by Avaaz. Who?

Avaaz.org is a 21-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. "Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages. Avaaz members live in every nation of the world. The Avaaz team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages.

If you want to support Avaaz and add your voice to their wide-ranging campaigns, or even start an on-line campaign yourself, go to www.avaaz.org

More reasons to look after your telomeres!
Telomeres are protective, DNA - protein complexes at the end of our chromosomes that protect them from fraying as we age.

However, during normal ageing, the gradual loss of telomere length can contribute to our cells becoming unable to reproduce, to their early cell death, and to the formation of cancer.

As a dramatic example of this, in the fairly rare genetic disorder dyskeratosis congenita, telomere shortening is accelerated, and those affected have premature onset of many age-related diseases and early death.

This study set out to assess an association between telomere length and mortality in 143 normal unrelated people over the age of 60 years.

The study found those with shorter telomeres in blood DNA had poorer survival, attributable in part to a 3.18-fold higher mortality rate from heart disease (95% CI 1(.)36-7.45, p=0.0079), and an 8.54-fold higher mortality rate from infectious disease (1.52-47.9, p=0.015).

These results lend support to the hypothesis that telomere shortening in human beings contributes to mortality in many age-related diseases.

Cawthon RMS et al, Lancet. 2003 Feb 1;361(9355):393-5. Link to the article, CLICK HERE

Read more about telomeres and telomere support: www.herbalts.net


  1. Dear Ian, Thank you so much for this great blog! You have quoted my favourite Shantideva verses and the photo-bio of an oak tree is good to see.

    Thank you also so very much for the kind mention of The Dalai Lama's Cat in a previous blog - I really appreciate you bringing it to people's attention.

    There's no doubt that mind training is the basis of a happy life ... and that's fascinating research about the telomeres too!

    Warmest wishes,


  2. Love those Oak trees My grandmother gave me some oak seeds 50 years ago and I grew an oak seedling. Then I gave it to my father who planted it on his property near his cattle yards in Coolac New South Wales. The property has been sold and my father long gone, but I believe the oak tree is still there! Oak trees are very slow growing - consider we should be kind to ourselves as we work on training our minds - it takes time and persistence.

  3. Beautiful blog! So simple, so meaningful.

  4. Love this blog, always wanted to plant an oak but they grow so big! And I love the metaphor with training the mind to produce a beautiful life - like planning for a beautiful garden. Makes sense of all the books I read and try to understand and put into practise.

  5. Funny you talk of trees, when I had breast cancer 30 years, I always looked at trees and thought, if trees can grow tall and strong when they loose a limb so can I, this thought stayed with me for a very long time.

  6. Hope you are still well my friend. Beautiful photos. Namaste _()_