China

In Chinese mythology, Fusang (Mulberry Tree) refers to the divine tree and island in the East (Japan), from where the sun rises. A similar tree, known as Ruomu exists in the west, and each morning the sun was said to rise from Fusang and fall on Ruomu. Chinese legend has ten birds (typically ravens) living in the tree, and as nine rested, the tenth would carry the sun on its journey.

Wu_liang_shrine_relief_depicting_xihe,_yi,_and_fusang_tree
Fusang tree as depicted in a rubbing from the Wu Liang Shrines’ reliefs, mid-2nd century.

Peach Trees were considered the “Tree of Immortality,” grown by the Heavenly Queen Mother. The peach-tree wood was said to ward off evil, so weapons were made of it, and its petals created an elixir of love. Xiwangmu, the queen goddess lived in the Kunlun Mountains of western China. She had 3,600 peach trees in her garden, guaranteed to provide eternal youth.

mother11-1
The peach tree of immortality.

They were said to ripen the every 3,000 years. Every 500 years the queen invited the eight immortals to a peento (peach) banquet. Once the Monkey King crashed the banquet, stole peaches and ruined the party. It is said that only two humans ever tasted the peentos — King Mu of the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-770 BC) and Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

Ⅰ号大型青铜神树
Bronze Tree with birds, flowers, and ornaments from Sanxingdui.

Trees associated with dragons and phoenix’s were also seen as Tree of Life.  In the 1900’s the sacrificial pit at Sanxingdui in Sichuan, China was discovered. Dating from about 1200 BCE, it contained three bronze trees, one of them four meters high. At the base was a dragon, and fruit hanging from the lower branches. At the top is a strange bird-like (phoenix) creature with claws. Also found in Sichuan, from the late Han dynasty (c 25 – 220 CE), is another tree of life. The ceramic base is guarded by a horned beast with wings. The leaves of the tree are coins and people. At the apex is a bird with coins and the Sun.

interior_laotzu_taoteching_tao_yuanming
Tao Yuanming and the Pine Tree, early 15th century.

Taoism sees the evergreen Pine Tree as the Tree of Life because of it’s ability to bend, survive, and endure. Taoist’s believe that nature is a continual balance between Yin and Yang, and that any attempt to go toward one extreme or the other will be ineffective, self-defeating, and short-lived. Yin and Yang are complementary principles yet display opposition. Trees exhibit receptivity, which is feminine energy similar to yin, yet they are also expansiveness, which is masculine energy or yang.

dragon-and-tao

In the Taoist creation myth, Supreme Unity (WU-JI), is limitless and produces the delimited (TAI-JI). This divides into heaven (Yang) and earth (Yin). Heaven and earth rejoin through human form and experience supreme unity.  One cannot exist without the other.

“Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.” – The Chuang Tzu

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. – Lao Tzu 

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. – Lao Tzu

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. – Lao Tzu

Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu 

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. – Lao Tzu

He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted. – Lao Tzu 

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. – Lao Tzu

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy. – Lao Tzu 

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. – Lao Tzu

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve. – Lao Tzu

If you would take, you must first give, this is the beginning of intelligence. – Lao Tzu

Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses. – Lao Tzu

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tzu

The career of a sage is of two kinds: He is either honored by all in the world, Like a flower waving its head, Or else he disappears into the silent forest. – Lao Tzu

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Lao Tzu

The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, The more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete. – Lao Tzu

The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. – Lao Tzu

The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ – Lao Tzu  

Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge. – Lao Tzu

To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. – Lao Tzu

To lead people walk behind them. – Lao Tzu

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu

To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; Not to realize that you do not understand is a defect. – Lao Tzu

To see things in the seed, that is genius. – Lao Tzu

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. – Lao Tzu

Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained. – Lao Tzu 

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. – Lao Tzu

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. – Lao Tzu

Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes The less one knows. – Lao Tzu

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. – Confucius

Ability will never catch up with the demand for it. – Confucius 

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are. – Confucius

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. – Confucius

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius 

Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire. – Confucius

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. – Confucius

Heaven means to be one with God. – Confucius

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. – Confucius  

If we don’t know life, how can we know death? – Confucius

If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear? – Confucius

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people  – Confucius

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. – Confucius

It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them. – Confucius 

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance. – Confucius  

The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large. – Confucius 

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. – Confucius

The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. – Confucius

To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it. – Confucius

Wherever you go, go with all your heart. – Confucius