Finding Strength and Shelter in the Tree of Life

Finding Strength and Shelter in the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life has long been a symbol of power, wisdom, protection, stability, and growth across many cultures and spiritual traditions. Like the extensive root systems that anchor trees firmly into the earth and the broad canopies that reach towards the heavens, the “tree of life” represents the interconnectedness between worlds seen and unseen.

Examining the tree of life’s meaning can give us perspective, hope, and a reliable foundation to build upon even during life’s storms. This article explores the history, symbolism, and significance of the Tree of Life across different faiths and practices. Understanding and applying these lessons mindfully can help weather all seasons.

tree of life

What is the Significance of the Tree of Life Symbol?

The concept of a tree of life, often depicted with birds in its branches and animals scattered around its trunk, traces back to ancient Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago. The symbol persists across many religions and mythologies including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as Norse and Celtic paganism.

The tree is centrally rooted, tall, symmetrical, ever-growing, and ever-bearing fruit. These characteristics evoke ideas of immortality, wisdom, strength, beauty, and redemption. The tree draws nourishment from deep in the earth and energy from the sun and heavens. Different parts provide shelter, sustenance, medicine, tools, and more.

The Tree of Life represents the interconnection between the divine and mundane, the infinite and finite, and the cosmic and earthly planes. It embodies the concept of “as above, so below” through its vertical axis linking realms and its horizontal boughs embracing all living creatures under its shade.

Just as extensive forests arise from small seeds, the tree stands for growth, achievement, and the manifestation of hope when properly rooted and tended. Its longevity speaks to the endurance of the spirit through all seasons. The Tree of Life exemplifies the possibility of spiritual evolution and redemption.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life Meaning in Different Faiths

Here’s an overview of the tree of life meaning in some major world religions:


In Genesis 2:9, God plants the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, God banishes them from Eden, placing angels and a flaming sword at the garden’s entrance to prevent access to the Tree of Life.

Later in Revelation 2:7, Jesus says that those who overcome trials will gain access to the Tree of Life in Paradise, living forever. So while the tree caused the fall from grace, it also represents redemption through Christ. As such, it signifies wisdom, eternal life through faith, and the triumph of the spirit.


The Tree of Life is mentioned in Genesis and Proverbs. In Kabbalah teachings, the tree represents the path to wisdom and God. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet correspond to the tree’s branches, with secret meanings to be uncovered through meditation and study.

Just as the tree draws nourishment from above and below, Kabbalists believe that properly balancing the physical and spiritual leads to enlightenment and immortality, as the Tree of Life did in Eden.

Tree of Life


The Tree of Immortality in the Quran sprang from the same spot in heaven where Adam was cast down to earth. Those who taste its fruit achieve eternal life. As in Eden, humanity lives in a state of innocence until choosing to disobey. The tree represents the possibility of redemption through submission to the divine will.

In Persian literature, the cosmic tree on Mount Qâf contains all seeds and animals. Qâf symbolizes the earth’s spiritual axis – the path between heaven and earth. Climbing the tree and grasping the celestial fruits allows one to attain immortality.


The Ashvattha tree, or peepal tree, is believed to be the tree of life and time. Its roots reach into hell and its branches into heaven. The Upanishads compare the tree’s seedling, trunk, branches, leaves, and roots to the primal elements and senses that comprise the manifest world.

The Ashvattha reminds Hindus of the eternal cycle of creation and dissolution. It represents the world tree as well as the tree within the heart. Watering its roots daily through spiritual practice nourishes its growth. The tree flowers enlightenment and the fruits of liberation.


The Bodhi Tree (Sacred Fig) represents the pivotal tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment after 49 days of meditation. On the night of his breakthrough, the Buddha took shelter under the Bodhi Tree during a great storm.

The Bodhi Tree recalls the Buddha’s perseverance and protection through hardship, serving as a reminder to stand firm like a tree when faced with life’s tempests. Its four wide-spreading branches were said to symbolize the four noble truths that helped awaken the Buddha and free him from suffering.

Tree of Life

Lessons from the Tree of Life

The universal Tree of Life symbol remains relevant today. Like our ancient ancestors, we still seek shelter, stability, and higher meaning during life’s storms. The Tree of Life and its recurring themes across faiths and cultures offer many lessons for weathering all seasons:

Be firmly rooted – A healthy tree requires strong roots for drawing nutrients and remaining fixed during storms. When centering values and cultivating stillness through spiritual grounding practices, our roots grow deeper.

Remember your connectedness – A tree thrives only with sun, air, water, and soil. Through mindfulness, we remember our connectedness to all living beings in the web of life. Mutual growth arises through compassion.

Keep growing – Trees never cease reaching for the light. When encountering setbacks or storms, like the Buddha, we persist through hardship and continue growing through the practice of loving kindness, ethics, patience, effort, and wisdom.

Bear fruits and provide shade – By blossoming into our potential, we bear the fruits of peace and happiness. And by offering these fruits for the shelter and nourishment of all, we receive boundless blessings, shade, and refuge in return.

The tree of life across cultures contains universal lessons for finding strength, wisdom, growth, and shelter on both mundane and spiritual planes. Understanding the roots of this powerful symbol helps transform life’s storms into nutrients for blossoming. By wisely tending to our inner tree daily, we can all flower, fruit, and offer shade in infinite abundance.