What is the Tree of Anisa

Nov 2019
3
Philadelphia, PA
Hello - I'm writing a paper on the Tree of Anisa, which I was named after, but actually understand so little about. The main reference from the writings that I can find is in the Persian Hidden Word Number 19.

O My Friends!

Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awestruck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.


In Persian the "tree of life" is
شجره انيسا

Abdu'l'Baha writes "By the "Tree of Anisa" is meant the Tabernacle of the Lord of Grace, the divine Lote-Tree, the Tree of Life, 'the Olive that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out even though fire touched it not' "

There is also a reference in God Passes By:

He has moreover declared, “hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anísá (Tree of Life), made a new Covenant and established a great Testament… Hath such a Covenant been established in any previous Dispensation, age, period or century? - Shoghi Effendi

Does anyone know anything more about this tree as a symbol within the Baha'i dispensation, or pre-dating the Baha'i dispensation?! Did it originate as a concept with Baha'u'llah? I would especially love to hear from those among you who speak Persian and or Arabic.
 
Jun 2014
1,100
Wisconsin
Hello - I'm writing a paper on the Tree of Anisa, which I was named after, but actually understand so little about. The main reference from the writings that I can find is in the Persian Hidden Word Number 19.

O My Friends!

Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awestruck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.


In Persian the "tree of life" is
شجره انيسا

Abdu'l'Baha writes "By the "Tree of Anisa" is meant the Tabernacle of the Lord of Grace, the divine Lote-Tree, the Tree of Life, 'the Olive that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out even though fire touched it not' "

There is also a reference in God Passes By:

He has moreover declared, “hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anísá (Tree of Life), made a new Covenant and established a great Testament… Hath such a Covenant been established in any previous Dispensation, age, period or century? - Shoghi Effendi

Does anyone know anything more about this tree as a symbol within the Baha'i dispensation, or pre-dating the Baha'i dispensation?! Did it originate as a concept with Baha'u'llah? I would especially love to hear from those among you who speak Persian and or Arabic.
This is the first time I've heard the Tree of Life equated with the Lote-Tree, which is in itself an interesting thing.

The divine Lote-Tree, or the Lote-Tree Beyond Which there is No Passing, or the Sidrat al-Muntaha, is first mentioned in Islamic sources and then further referenced by Baha'i sources (for example, the Medium Obligatory Prayer). Muhammad first encounters the Lote-Tree during the Mi'raj, when he was taken through the Seven Heavens by the archangel Gabriel. In the Mi'raj narration, the Lote-Tree grows in the Seventh and highest Heaven, and grows at the boundary of that Heaven. Beyond the Seventh Heaven, there is only God, and the Lote-Tree itself is thus growing at the place in the universe that is closest to God Himself.

In other words, the Lote-Tree represents the closest point at which man can approach God. God, being infinite, cannot be fully comprehended by a finite mind, and thus the Lote-Tree is representative of the most comprehension possible for a human to have of God.

The Tree of Life, on the other hand, is usually symbolic of other things, and it is commonly mentioned in Christian and Jewish sources. Most notably a description of it can be found in the supposedly-Jewish-but-probably-Christian book Enoch 2. Therein, Enoch describes it as a massive tree found in center of the Garden of Eden, in the Third Heaven. It overshadows the whole of the Garden of Eden, bearing the appearance of gold, and eternally on fire, but not burning up. On the tree grows every type of edible fruit, and rivers of wine, oil, honey, and milk flow forth from the root of the tree, which in turn branch out to become every single river in Paradise.

In Enoch's description, you can see symbols of radical unity (it is both part living tree, part fire, without the two parts contrary parts destroying one another) and symbols of God's bounty (the many fruits, the source of the rivers of heaven).

The Tree of Life is also often used in Jewish mysticism as a symbol for the mystical approach to God. In the symbol are ten different interconnected points representing points of the spiritual journey. The top of the Tree represents God, whereas the root of the Tree is Creation. The points in between are the attributes of God, which one goes through on their quest to meet God.

But the Tree of Life goes a bit further, and is found even outside of Abrahamic sources, for example the symbol is common in Baltic (Latvian/Lithuanian) art, drawing from roots in Baltic paganism. In Baltic symbology, the Tree has three tiers, one symbolizing the dead or the past, one symbolizing the living or the present, and the third symbolizing the unborn or the future. The Baltic Tree of Life symbol often encorporates into its design a variation of Perkon's Cross (the Baltic version of the swastika) which is the Baltic symbol for Fire, so in the Baltic traditions we also have the union of tree and fire.

In Norse paganism the Tree of Life is Yggsdrasil, the tree that connects the nine different worlds of Norse Cosmology, notably the Word of the Gods and the World of Men, so like the Jewish traditions, the tree also links mortal man with the Divine.

It appears that the Gaels, Croatians, Hungarians, and Japanese also have Tree of Life symbols in their cultures, but I'm not well-versed in those traditions to be able to elaborate on that point. The symbol seems to be nearly universal.

The Baha'i verse you cited, which I was not previously aware of, marries together the Tree of Life with the Lote-Tree Beyond Which there is No Passing. So we have a symbol of God's bounty and God's unity through the Tree of Life, as well as symbols of Enlightenment with the Lote-Tree. So overall the tree is representative of the connection between divine God and mortal man.

Lote Tree in Islamic Art:


Jewish Tree of Life symbol:


Baltic Tree of Life Symbol:
 
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Nov 2019
3
Philadelphia, PA
This is the first time I've heard the Tree of Life equated with the Lote-Tree, which is in itself an interesting thing.

The divine Lote-Tree, or the Lote-Tree Beyond Which there is No Passing, or the Sidrat al-Muntaha, is first mentioned in Islamic sources and then further referenced by Baha'i sources (for example, the Medium Obligatory Prayer). Muhammad first encounters the Lote-Tree during the Mi'raj, when he was taken through the Seven Heavens by the archangel Gabriel. In the Mi'raj narration, the Lote-Tree grows in the Seventh and highest Heaven, and grows at the boundary of that Heaven. Beyond the Seventh Heaven, there is only God, and the Lote-Tree itself is thus growing at the place in the universe that is closest to God Himself.

In other words, the Lote-Tree represents the closest point at which man can approach God. God, being infinite, cannot be fully comprehended by a finite mind, and thus the Lote-Tree is representative of the most comprehension possible for a human to have of God.

The Tree of Life, on the other hand, is usually symbolic of other things, and it is commonly mentioned in Christian and Jewish sources. Most notably a description of it can be found in the supposedly-Jewish-but-probably-Christian book Enoch 2. Therein, Enoch describes it as a massive tree found in center of the Garden of Eden, in the Third Heaven. It overshadows the whole of the Garden of Eden, bearing the appearance of gold, and eternally on fire, but not burning up. On the tree grows every type of edible fruit, and rivers of wine, oil, honey, and milk flow forth from the root of the tree, which in turn branch out to become every single river in Paradise.

In Enoch's description, you can see symbols of radical unity (it is both part living tree, part fire, without the two parts contrary parts destroying one another) and symbols of God's bounty (the many fruits, the source of the rivers of heaven).

The Tree of Life is also often used in Jewish mysticism as a symbol for the mystical approach to God. In the symbol are ten different interconnected points representing points of the spiritual journey. The top of the Tree represents God, whereas the root of the Tree is Creation. The points in between are the attributes of God, which one goes through on their quest to meet God.

But the Tree of Life goes a bit further, and is found even outside of Abrahamic sources, for example the symbol is common in Baltic (Latvian/Lithuanian) art, drawing from roots in Baltic paganism. In Baltic symbology, the Tree has three tiers, one symbolizing the dead or the past, one symbolizing the living or the present, and the third symbolizing the unborn or the future. The Baltic Tree of Life symbol often encorporates into its design a variation of Perkon's Cross (the Baltic version of the swastika) which is the Baltic symbol for Fire, so in the Baltic traditions we also have the union of tree and fire.

In Norse paganism the Tree of Life is Yggsdrasil, the tree that connects the nine different worlds of Norse Cosmology, notably the Word of the Gods and the World of Men, so like the Jewish traditions, the tree also links mortal man with the Divine.

It appears that the Gaels, Croatians, Hungarians, and Japanese also have Tree of Life symbols in their cultures, but I'm not well-versed in those traditions to be able to elaborate on that point. The symbol seems to be nearly universal.

The Baha'i verse you cited, which I was not previously aware of, marries together the Tree of Life with the Lote-Tree Beyond Which there is No Passing. So we have a symbol of God's bounty and God's unity through the Tree of Life, as well as symbols of Enlightenment with the Lote-Tree. So overall the tree is representative of the connection between divine God and mortal man.

Lote Tree in Islamic Art:


Jewish Tree of Life symbol:


Baltic Tree of Life Symbol:
Wow. This is such a wealth of information. Thank you so much!
 
Oct 2014
1,822
Stockholm
So, it seems like we have established that the Tree of Anisa and the Sadratu'l-Muntahá, “the Tree beyond which there is no passing" - a symbol that also appears in the Quran - are two different symbols, the latter being a symbol of the Manifestation of God.

gnat

P. S. The Tree of life, by the way, is a much used symol in Islamic art, like in this Kerman carpet:
 

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Nov 2019
3
Philadelphia, PA
I wonder specifically about the derivation of the word Anisa (انيسا) which I thought I learned through my study of Arabic derives from the root uns (انس) meaning "to be companionable, sociable, nice, friendly, etc." When I traveled in the Middle East people assumed my name came from the feminization of this root. The name Anisa spelled slightly differently (انیسه) is a common female name amongst Arabs, and being a foreigner, I thought maybe my anglo-Baha'i-parents had gotten this whole Anisa-tree-of-life-thing wrong all along -- that my name in fact meant friend. Or perhaps a more literal translation of شجره انيسا is "the tree of companionship" not "the tree of life". There are other words for life in Arabic and Persian that are not Anisa. But this is how Shoghi Effendi chose to translate the phrase, perhaps in order to grasp the universal-symbolic import more effectively. But my Arabic is not accomplished enough, nor my scholarship to know. Any thoughts?
 
Feb 2019
251
Chicago
Hello - I'm writing a paper on the Tree of Anisa, which I was named after, but actually understand so little about. The main reference from the writings that I can find is in the Persian Hidden Word Number 19.

O My Friends!

Have ye forgotten that true and radiant morn, when in those hallowed and blessed surroundings ye were all gathered in My presence beneath the shade of the tree of life, which is planted in the all-glorious paradise? Awestruck ye listened as I gave utterance to these three most holy words: O friends! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.


In Persian the "tree of life" is
شجره انيسا

Abdu'l'Baha writes "By the "Tree of Anisa" is meant the Tabernacle of the Lord of Grace, the divine Lote-Tree, the Tree of Life, 'the Olive that belongeth neither to the East nor to the West, whose oil would well nigh shine out even though fire touched it not' "

There is also a reference in God Passes By:

He has moreover declared, “hath, beneath the shade of the Tree of Anísá (Tree of Life), made a new Covenant and established a great Testament… Hath such a Covenant been established in any previous Dispensation, age, period or century? - Shoghi Effendi

Does anyone know anything more about this tree as a symbol within the Baha'i dispensation, or pre-dating the Baha'i dispensation?! Did it originate as a concept with Baha'u'llah? I would especially love to hear from those among you who speak Persian and or Arabic.
References to the Tree of Life are found in all religions. About 5000 years ago, Lord Krishna talked about the Tree of Life in the Bhagavad Gita. In Gita 15:3 He says "The true nature of this tree, its beginning, its end, and its modes of continuity—none of these are understood by ordinary men "

I will try to present some excerpts from a Gita commentary for those interested. This is very esoteric stuff.

This enduring "Tree of Life"—mentioned in many scriptures of the world, including the Bible—is the human body and human mind.

In the light of intuition, yogis behold the inverted "Tree of Life"— the tree of consciousness (ideational components of the human body and mind causal body) within the tree of life force (the nadis of the astral body, channels of life energy), these two existing interlocked within the inverted tree of the physical cerebrospinal nervous system. This triple tree has its roots of thought emanations, life-force rays, and cranial nerves hanging upside down from the eternal Cosmic Consciousness above its ideational, astral, and physical spinal trunks; and its triple branches hanging below.

In a book on anatomy, look at a chart showing the nervous system in the human body. Turn the chart upside down, with the brain below and the feet above, and you will see that man's form has a similarity to an inverted tree, with a trunk and many branches.

Then turn the chart right-end up and you will see that the nervous system itself looks like an inverted tree, with hair, brain, and spine above; and numerous branches of nerves shooting out below. As trees spring out of the soil beneath them, the human tree of thought, life force, and nerves grows invertedly downward from the "soil" or ground of Cosmic Consciousness.

In the human body, the physical tree of nerves is a gross manifestation of the astral tree of life energy within. The two trees of nerves and life force are condensed out of the tree of human consciousness, the elemental ideas in the causal body, which in turn emanate from Cosmic Consciousness.

THE TREE OF LIFE HAS THREE KINDS of leaves, or receptors through which the indwelling soul receives knowledge ("Vedic hymns") of triune phenomenal creation: sensations, life force, and thought perceptions. The metaphor of leaves compared to Vedic hymns calls forth an image of phenomenal world sensitivity and vitality (the vibrant green leaves denoting life) and whispering motion, "hymns of knowledge" (the rustle of leaves).

The "leaves" of the physical tree of life, for example, are the sensory organs in the epidermis and their corresponding centers in the brain, sensitive and full of life, receiving sensations and reporting that knowledge. The waving of those sensory leaves suggests the motion of sensation caused in the nerve centers through which we receive knowledge about the body and the world.

Through the help of this sensory commotion we see colors and forms, hear sounds, taste food, and so forth. When one perceives the proper integration of physical sensory stimuli with the inner trees of life force and consciousness (in the astral and causal bodies), true knowledge of the phenomenal world is produced. A man of Self-realization, tuning in with the Infinite, can see this mysterious tree of nerves, life force, and thought issuing out of Cosmic Consciousness; he thus becomes omniscient—a "knower of the Vedas," that is, of all knowledge.


The ordinary man is absorbed in sensations, which reach him through the sensitive leaves of the spinal tree. He partakes of the fruits of touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste that exist among the "leaves," the sensitive receivers of sensations at the end of the numerous nerve branches.

The ordinary man indulges in the transitory pleasures of bodily sensations and fleeting thought-forms, thereby exposing himself to countless subsequent miseries. But a man of Self-realization, being one with the Cosmic Consciousness of his Maker, beholds the human body and mind as delusive thought-forms that provide the soul with a means to experience the Lord's cosmic chiaroscuro.

That is why the Bhagavad Gita says that one who understands this triple tree of life, which has its source in God's eternal existence, is a knower of all wisdom

THE ANALOGY OF THE ashvattha tree of life is here further elaborated. Its branches spread both "above" and "below"—extending upward, they give knowledge of the higher realms of being and consciousness; and stretching downward they confine perception to the sentient physical body and material plane.


The life and consciousness flowing through these branches, concentrated either above or below, are nurtured by the gunas, triple qualities (sattva, rajas, and tamas), according to the ego's response to their good, activating, and evil influence.


Human actions originate primarily from the "buds" of sensation, the "sense objects." These sensations grow on the bodily nerve endings of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. In a deeper metaphysical analysis, these "sense objects" are defined as the causal potentials or "buds" of sensory experience: sound, or what the ear can hear; tangibility or resistance, what can be felt; form or color, what the eye can see; flavor, what the tongue can taste; odor, what the nose can smell.

Inherent in these supramental potentials are the subtle vibratory creative elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These potentials become elaborated as the sensory organs and perceptions through Interaction with the three gunas, and the end result is the manifested "object," or sensation.


Although the principal root of the tree of life lies above in Cosmic Consciousness, there are secondary roots beneath, embedded in the subconsciousness and super consciousness in the brain. These "rootlings" originate mans actions from the likes and dislikes (attractions and repulsions) engendered from good and bad actions and desires of past lives ( samskaras and their progeny, vasanas or desire-seeds).

They extend downward into the nervous system and senses,, "the world of men," and compel man's actions. These past habits and desire impressions continuously instigate in man the performance of specific actions— good or bad as the case may be.

THOUGH THE TRIPLE TREE of consciousness, life force, and nerves is present in man, he does not understand himself or Nature. The elusive ever-changing modes of cosmic creation bewilder him. Of such delusive ignorance in ordinary beings Jesus spoke: "...they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Matthew 13:13).

Only a sage determines to wield the strong axe of nonattachment, nondesire, to destroy the ashvattha tree within him, deeply rooted in the habits of material living. He alone attains the Divine Goal.

The worldly man, living under the thick-leaved tree of sense pleasures and egotism, does not perceive the skies of liberating Cosmic Consciousness. But the sincere devotee, by discrimination and yoga practice, strikes a mortal blow to material desires and past-habit-instigated activities rooted in his conscious, subconscious, and superconscious minds.

Thus felling the obscuring tree of material delusion, he beholds in transcendental ecstasy the skies of the Infinite. He perceives Cosmic Consciousness as the origin, continuity, and end of the Tree of Life of his body and of the cosmos. By this realization that God is all, and by freedom from past and present desires, he becomes a liberated being, able to retain this consciousness even in the bodily state. But never again will he be forced by cosmic law to take rebirth on earth.
 
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