Auburn, Alabama (CNN) — Hundreds of Auburn University fans rallied Saturday under their beloved oak trees, hoping against hope that the trees poisoned — allegedly by a disgruntled University of Alabama fan — might yet be saved.
“They’re Auburn. They’re the heart of the town. They’re 130 years old. And you can’t squish what these trees are,” said Kristen Easterling, a junior at Auburn University.
The trees’ plight — university scientists say its doubtful they can survive the poisoning with a harsh herbicide — has even helped bind the deep-seated rivalry between Auburn fans and its cross-state arch rival, the University of Alabama.
More than 50,000 people have joined a Facebook page called Tide for Toomers, whose organizers said on the page that supporters have raised nearly $32,000 to help support efforts to save or replace the trees.
For generations, Auburn fans have thronged to the trees, which are named for a historic drugstore nearby, to celebrate and “roll” the trees with toilet paper. The latest significant celebration was after the Auburn Tigers defeated Oregon for the national football championship on January 10.
On Thursday, Auburn police arrested Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, on a charge of criminal mischief for dousing the soil around the trees with a herbicide commonly used to kill trees and brush.
Officials learned of the alleged poisoning after a man called a Birmingham, Alabama, talk show and said he had poisoned the trees the weekend after the annual Auburn-Alabama football game in November. Auburn won, 28-27.
The caller claimed Auburn students celebrated under the trees when they heard news of the death of renowned Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, and also mentioned the placement of a jersey with Auburn quarterback Cam Newton’s number on the statue depicting Bryant in 2010.
To understand the explanation of the motivating factors behind this stupidity, you will need to watch episodes 4, and 5 (and probably 7 this Saturday) of the I AM Spirituality video podcast. (It’s now #1 in the ‘Spirituality’ section of ‘Religion & Spirituality’ video podcasts on iTunes.) That said, here is why crap like this comes to fruition in the world:
In this tree poisoning situation, the ego within man has yet again caused unnecessary pain and suffering on both sides of this situation (as it always does), and it is what also caused the senseless stupidity of harming trees in the name of a sports rivalry.
If you’re arriving late to the party, until we are spiritually awakened the ego within us is the cause of all our actions as humans. Period.
First, let’s talk about the ego of the man who poisoned the trees. His ego (his mindful definition of self) included a deep and powerful attachment to the University of Alabama, to include Coach Bear Bryant, and to include the rivalry with Auburn University. He was a fan. No… he was a HUGE FAN, and it became a portion of his definition of self. The University, the team, Coach Bryant, the history, the traditions… all of it… became a part of his definition of self. “I am the University of Alabama football program,” his ego said. (It happens globally – not an uncommon occurrence.) Now, that said… as we know… when things get attached to the ego, they are getting attached to a person’s mindful definition of self, and subsequently, when it comes to the self, the mind wishes to defend the valuation of it’s ego pretty vehemently (see episode 4).
So… from the tree-poisoning-man’s perspective, when the perceived slights against Coach Bryant occurred, when the rivalry delivered its bitter losses over the years, when the opposing fans rubbed ‘Bama fans’ noses in it smugly, and when the most recent loss (on the road to major Bowl contentions) occurred, they were all perceived by the man to be attacks on himself (or more accurately HISself… or his perceived self, anyway). They weren’t attacks on ‘Bama, they were attacks on HIM. And this is what the attachment of the ego does… it creates this illusion.
And so from his warped perspective, he had endured some perceived attacks on his self for quite a while. It was like someone was slapping him in his face, or threatening his family. Over, and over, and over. Now, when the ego’s valuation gets attacked, it gets fed into the Equation of Emotion (episode 0004), and because of a difference in the Reality as Perceived and the Expectation or Preference, a negative emotion occurs. In this case, it’s anger and other emotions in the anger family… like frustration.
Now… what we’re going to discuss in episode 0007 is the ego’s valuation system. And when the ego perceives a devaluation, it upsets the Equation of Emotion, But the issue with that, is that the mind can’t let the Equation of Emotion remain unbalanced, lest it go insane and fall into a death spiral of an endless loop of negative emotion. So when an ego devaluation occurs, the mind eventually has to try to either distance itself from the decreased valuation (escapism), or it must readjust it’s perceived valuation by either increasing it’s own valuation or (more often) by decreasing the valuation on the other side of the equation (of whatever is challenging the ego’s valuation).
And this somewhat complicated but yet still simple process is the basis for all arguments on the planet. One side: You suck! (perceived valuation attack) Other side: No… YOU suck! (perceived devaluation of the other side, attempting to balance the Equation of Emotion). Or potentially it could be: No… I don’t suck! (a defense of the original devaluation attack itself)
So knowing this… it’s easy to see why the guy who poisoned the trees simply HAD to do something from his perspective. And knowing the beloved oaks were a symbol of Auburn, what better to do than to go poison them, and do damage to the valuation of the other side? It accomplishes the same thing in the man’s mind as calling the Auburn fans assholes, which other folks might (and do) do. “They made fun of (my egoic attachment to) Bear Bryant. Fuck them. I’ll kill their trees.” It accomplishes the same thing as attacking an opponent’s argument in a heated discussion. In a political argument, this can sound like, “Yeah but the damn Democrats want to tax us into oblivion no matter what it means for business and the economy.” A devaluation for the other side’s position. Or sometimes a positive argument can be made to increase the primary valuation without an attack on the other side… “Yes, but the Democrats know that we need to increase taxes to be fiscally responsible for all the defense spending.”
Every conflict on Earth can be explained by this process. It’s all about the ego valuation battles.
And so in our Auburn case, an existence of ego here has potentially if not probably destroyed some beautiful 100+ year old oaks in the name of some man’s perceived slight against his own perceived definition of self. Now… as a side note… it is here that my mostly dormant ego would like to say something like, “What a dumbass.” But in reality, that reaction would only be my own ego’s perception of valuation trying to rebalance its own potential devaluation that the ‘Bama man introduced to the definition of ‘being human’. I’m a human. He’s a human. He acted stupidly. So now he’s dragging the human race down with him. I can’t be connected with that, so I must put him in a different group from mine so as to separate my valuation as human from his. So now he is a DUMBASS HUMAN. Now, he’s not like me. Now, my valuation is restored. Whew! That was a close one! (I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with the bullshit traps of the ego anymore. Calling people dumbasses is not constructive.)
So now… if that weren’t bad enough… all that ego crap going on within the Alabama man who poisoned the trees… that’s not our entire story. There’s also pain of ego on the other side. The Auburn side.
The egos (the mindful definitions of self) of the Auburn folks have attached to Auburn University, and those beloved oaks. So when those oaks were attacked, the egos of the Auburn faithful were attacked as well. Many got angry. Many got sad. Those who were angered became so because of the perceived external attack on their egos (in the form of the trees and their attachment to the school, its traditions, etc.). They may have even followed it up with a. “what an asshole,” or a “what a dumbass.” We know why. And for those who got sad, they had an internal attack on their ego valuation with the acceptance that 1) a part of their egos were going to be permanently devalued (the oaks were damaged if not dying), and/or 2) that someone in the human race could come to the point of taking action to destroy something beautiful to support a sports rivalry (which again… is devaluing their egoic position as a human being, connected with why we would want to call the guy a dumbass).
But either way, regardless of where someone is in the tree poisoning situation, the ego is what caused the pain on both sides of the fence.
And here’s the rub:
The ego isn’t evil on one side of the fence and a righteous on the other. The ego of the University of Alabama man isn’t the evil aggressor, while the egos of the Auburn fans stand as the innocent victims of that man’s actions. Nope. The ego is a problem on both sides of the fence. It creates evil on both sides. It caused the sickness in the man to kill the trees. AND it caused the pain and suffering of the Auburn fans. And that’s a tough pill to swallow: The perpetrator didn’t cause the pain of the victims. The victims’ egos did. Their perceived definitions of self did. Ouch! And although its a travesty that some beautiful trees are now in jeopardy of not being anymore because of the intentional action of a man, the pain that exists in the minds of the Auburn fans and alumni… is in reality… an unnecessary illusion. Double-ouch!
Okay, so… I bet some people hate me now… Yes, there’s potential for lots of emotional reaction in that statement, because again… that statement… could also be perceived by some to be an attack on the valuation of their ego’s existence. “Your pain is not worthy.” “Your pain is an illusion.” And so anger and resentment and sadness may occur… for the same exact reason it did when they learned the trees were poisoned. But guess what sports fans…? The simple fact is that from a Spiritual standpoint… from a God-mind standpoint, any pain or anger that could be generated by this post and that last statement… is all an illusion too.
Sorry to be the one to tell you.
And thus the evil of the ego is revealed yet again.
And as much as that’s not a pleasant thought for our minds (that are run by an ego that wants to defend it’s egoism, which causes the violent reaction when I say things like the ego is an illusion that causes illusionary reactions), it’s a simple fact. When we become victims in some way… it is only ourselves that make it so. It is only ourselves that allow us to become victims.
And until we accept that fact, and work to discover our true spiritual selves that exist under our false selves of ego, pain and suffering, and anger and sadness, and victimization… is the way it’s going to be. Aggressors… defenders… pain and suffering… anger… a push to rebalance the valuation equation… arguments… hurt feelings,,, and we do it all again tomorrow.
So in closing, I will say that I sincerely hope the trees make it. Not because I care one iota about the illusory attachment to those trees within the minds of the Auburn fans… I don’t care about the tradition… I don’t care about the rivalry (and I love SEC football)… I don’t care about what the trees mean to the school or the fans… but I DO CARE DEEPLY for the trees themselves. And I CARE MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF for the portion of God that resides within those trees. My best healing wishes and energy to those trees. And my best healing wishes and energy that you may one day be rid of your ego so that you too may not be affected by these horrible actions of others.
I must tell you,,, it’s very beautiful on the other side.
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