Sacred Bodhi Tree from the Metta Forest Monastery / Wat Mettavanaram

"Even as a mother protects with her life 
Her child, her only child, 
So with a boundless heart 
Should one cherish all living beings: 
Radiating kindness over the entire world 
Spreading upwards to the skies, 
And downwards to the depths; 
Outwards and unbounded, 
Freed from hatred and ill-will.”  

from the Metta Sutta - Buddha’s Words on Loving Kindness

"Trees are a common symbol for nature and for centuries they have provided shelter for man and animal alike. Tree worship was a common practice in India at the time of the Buddha. This can be seen in the story of Sujata - offering milk-rice to the Bodhisatta seated under a banyan tree on the eve of his enlightenment in the belief that he was the deity living in that tree. Trees, in fact all vegetation, are respected as ‘one-facultied life’ and there is a vinaya rule giving them protection. The story is of a monk who was cutting down a tree and damaged the arm of the tree spirit’s child. She asked the monk not to destroy her home - to no avail. The spirit complained to the Buddha and as lay people heard the story they too ‘were offended and annoyed’ so the rule was created for monks forbidding ‘the damaging of any living vegetation."

Learn much more about the Bodhi Tree

Link: http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/arty/bod-leaf.htm

Link to Metta Sutta: http://viewonbuddhism.org/resources/theravada_chants.html

Link to Metta Forest Monastery: http://www.watmetta.org/